Residential School on respect and understanding: view from Zaman Wahid

Zaman Wahid is an undergraduate studying at Daffodil International University, Bangladesh. He attended the ACU Residential School 2017, held at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia in December 2017. Zaman tells us how attending the Residential School has had a positive impact on him. 

Zaman Wahid, DIU

The journey from application to attendance of the ACU Residential School 2017 was exciting, but rigorous and tough. Only one student per ACU member university could be nominated to apply for the programme, which didn’t ensure acceptance into the programme. So, I first went through a two-layered internal selection process to be eligible to apply. I was then nominated by my vice-chancellor and applied for the programme. Two months later, I got the dream email which would enable me to cross the border for the first time.

I was one of only 30 student leaders from universities across the Commonwealth who were selected to participate. As it was going to be the very first time in my life to visit abroad, I was thrilled – especially, thinking about the new cities I would visit, and the new people and cultures I would get to know. That, and solving crucial societal problems with some of the brightest minds from around the globe.

Before the programme, many questions arose in my head: how would I survive in shared accommodation with an unknown person, having never shared a room before? What if we didn’t get along? What if nobody wanted to talk to me because my English isn’t as good as theirs? So many questions. But during the programme, I can guarantee that nobody had as much fun as Daniel (my roommate from Kenya) and I! I found everyone to be so interactive and friendly, no one allowed me to be embarrassed for a single moment.

I want to share two things I learnt about myself, that I also want to share with my grandchildren in my old age. On the first day of the programme, everyone introduced themselves with an object that defines them. Bilu (Papua New Guinea) and Daniel (Kenya) showed something special that represented themselves, but also their countries – the hardships, the unity of their men. I felt a bit ashamed that I didn’t even think about me and my country like that. And I learned the way leadership should be. I found so much diversity and opportunities to learn from the 29 people from different countries, but I also found a common string among us that was the thirst for mutual understanding, tolerance, and respect. And that inspired me to think that we, all different human races, will also find the string to tie ourselves with love someday.

After a late night gossiping with Timothy (Hong Kong), Smit (India), Steven (Uganda), and Noor (Mauritius), Daniel and I set a thousand alarms to wake up at 6.00 AM so that we wouldn't miss breakfast and the bus to the programme. But nothing worked. The sunshine saved us. Daniel asked me the time and I said 7.32! The bus would wait for us up to 7.45 AM. I somehow got ready by 7.42, but Daniel was taking a bit more time – I don’t know why, maybe he was thinking about the dream he just dreamt about getting married to his girlfriend. I decided to go ahead and grab an apple at least, but something held me back. So I waited and we got the bus together. Thinking back to the questions I had faced before the programme, I am so happy that I have returned with so much friendship, and respect.

This programme left me with so many learnings and memories that I can’t even share in words. But I now know who I am. I now know how to make an effective decision, how to plan, how to lead and most importantly how to think while taking into account my diverse surroundings. I have no doubt that the programme will allow me to implement the idea we found together not only in my institution but beyond.

The content, lesson and activity of the programme were awesome, but the whole process of the programme was exceptional and extraordinary. Because this way I found my peers as not my peers, but as my family members. I found a family with diverse cultures, beliefs, and faiths, aspiring to promote mutual understanding and respect by creating tolerant and inclusive communities worldwide.

Zaman Wahid

  • Read our round-up of the event
  • Read other student's views on the Residential School: Jiwani (from the University of the West Indies St Augustine campus, Trinidad and Tobago), Robbie (from Otago University, New Zealand), and Ruth Grace (from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda)
Last modified on 11/01/2018
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