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  • Ataur Rahman Shaheen, Dhaka College

Inspiring New Ways

“2019 YouthMappers Leadership Fellowship”, it's just a simple sentence, but I could not measure its weight because for me, it is immeasurable.

The 2nd bi-annual YouthMappers Leadership Fellowship Workshop was held from 6 -14 January 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. It was a great feeling to be one of the selected fellows for this unique opportunity. The workshop focused on skill building, increasing youth leadership, enhancing open mapping techniques, data visualization, and professional development. The first half of the week included presentations on the history of YouthMappers, an introduction on OSM in the classroom, and presentations by our hosts at the University of Pretoria on their research that provide local context on South Africa as a collaboratory.

We engaged in discussions, lab exercises, and a field visit to use open mapping platforms. Sessions in the second week focused on professional development training, using data in the real world, mobile applications for development, and reinforcing chapter sustainability. The University of Pretoria organized a team building activity at Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves. On this day, we explored early human history & nature and it was unforgettable.

The most important thing that I have learned is to think big in a simple ways because simple is the best. This workshop helped me to widen my range of thinking. And the mantra I liked most is “Teamwork makes the dream work”.

We were provided an agenda before the workshop and received a detailed agenda on the very first day but I have learned much more than what was listed, several times multiplied from that list. I learned something from every single moment and from every single person who was there. Our group was made up of people from different countries, different thoughts, different things, lots of experiences to exchange and this inspired me and motivated me.

I met some fantastic guys who were just awesome. The friendly attitude from the YouthMappers staff was a matter of wonder for me to see. They never made us feel that they are professors or a higher rank person of a prominent organization, they always acted like a friend, advised us about right things, and were always ready to help us if we needed anything. They even played UNO with us (a card game our Colombia Fellow Fabio brought), danced with us, and had fun with us. Every day we had to get up early at 6 am but we up until 11/11:30 pm at night chatting and sharing stories.

And the fellows.... I will say just one word, those guys are just tremendous. We were together just for 9 days but I felt each day as if it was a week. I think I am so lucky that I am a part of this amazing cohort. I will not forget those evenings, each one full of fun and I am especially thankful for their friendship. During the workshop, our friendship came to become so strong that it was hard and emotional on the last day when we were saying bye to each other. I wish to meet you guys again and again. I traveled to South Africa with a small bag but at the time of returning, I was carrying a large package of experience, memories and happiness. I would like to thank YouthMappers, the University of Pretoria, and the USAIDGeoCenter for organizing such a wonderful workshop!

Ataur Rahman Shaheen is a student of the Statistics department at Dhaka College. He is a 2019 YouthMappers Leadership Fellow and traveled to Pretoria, South Africa to join the other 22 selected fellows for a week-long workshop hosted by the University of Pretoria. He is the president of his YouthMappers chapter and is very interested and actively participates in Humanitarian work. In his free time he loves to travel, exploring nature, and local foods. He hopes to help sustain & build a robust YouthMappers chapters in Bangladesh so that they can be a strength of the mapping community in Bangladesh. He knows that through their participation, students can enrich their knowledge, experience, and get financial support. Working with big data is one of his dreams.

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