We delve straight into our adventure as soon as we arrive in Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka. Prepare your senses as we get to know this intensely bustling city! During our in-country orientation, we’ll learn about the history of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan, hop on one of many colorful rickshaws, boat and float along the Buriganga river, practice our bartering skills, and sample the many sights, smells, and delicious tastes Dhaka has to offer.
We’ll also kick start our explorations of the garment industry by visiting our partners who will brief us on the legal situation on the ground.
Traipsing to Thanapara Village
We hit the road with a journey to Thanapara Village in the northwest of Bangladesh on the riverbank of Padma. An 8-hour bus ride from Dhaka, we’ll take in the roadside views of Bangladesh while preparing to meet our partners at the Thanapara Swallows Development Society.
Dying, Weaving, and Embroidery with Swallows
Welcome to Bangladesh’s first fair trade collective! Founded 20 years ago, the Thanapara Swallows Development Society (or Swallows) is a women’s cooperative involved in every stage of the fair trade garment production process. Their handicraft program consists of dying, bobbin, design, weaving, sewing, and embroidery. The artisans here make a wider range of products – from handloom fabrics to men and women’s clothing – using only local materials. Profits and proceeds from their products are then used to build the community’s school and medical centre.
We’ll spend a chunk of our time living and learning side by side with these women to gain a better understanding of what it takes to create an ethical fashion and garment industry. We’ll take part in a deep knowledge exchange as we get our hands dirty in dying and weaving workshops while also helping out in the local school!
Fun tidbit: People Tree, featured in the critically acclaimed documentary, True Cost, sources their products from Swallows!
Journey to Cox’s Bazar
We’re off to another journey by bus! From Thanapara, we make our way south-east to Cox’s Bazar! We’ll make a quick pit-stop back in Dhaka to stretch our legs and then we forge ahead!
Disorientation – Cox’s Bazar
We’ll cap our whirlwind adventure for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’ prior to flying home. We’ll settle in at Cox’s Bazar, home to the longest continuous natural beach in the world. It’s the place where both locals and tourists come to play and relax, away from the general hustle and bustle of the country. With a stunning beach backdrop and the breezy freshness of the Bay of Bengal, we’ll relive memories of the program, reminisce about our wild and wonderful experiences, discuss how to stay connected, and brainstorm project collaborations for the future.
Then off to the airport for some tearful goodbyes!
A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region
Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day
All lodging and accommodations throughout the program
Three local meals a day
All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions
All group transportation on the ground
Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience
Support from OGHQ whenever you need it
With OG, you live like the locals.
Traveling as much as we do on the Bangladesh program, there are a number of different styles of accommodation. In Dhaka, Cox’s Bazar, and any other major city, we stay at clean, safe, and secure guesthouses. During our project work in Thanapara Village, we’ll be living in our partner’s guesthouse, giving us the unique opportunity to really integrate and absorb as much learning as possible. Cold bucket showers are common and continuous electricity can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! Though Western comforts should not be assumed, you can expect to better connect with locals and their culture!
Turning 18 was like the firing of a starting gun for James. He started moving across borders and continents and hasn’t found the finish line yet. Typically found bothering mountains with his skis, or holy men with questions, his initial wanderings and wonderings spanned a diverse set of scenery, continents, and jobs to keep the show on the road. Four years with OG has only served to strengthen his early convictions around the transformative potential of travel experience to peel back our preconceptions about our world, and to better facilitate shared understandings which can benefit all of us.
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