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  • Mohammad Azharul IslamYouthMappers at BSMRMU-Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University, Bangladesh

My Experience Throughout the Year 2022: Leading From the Front

When I started my journey with YouthMappers, I even didn’t know about mapping and related things. I just knew some about GIS and got trained on that. After attending some of the programs. Our current student adviser Mr. Khan Mohammad Ibtehal (former president of YouthMappers at BSMRMU) taught me a lot of things about mapping. I learned about YouthMappers, I learned about OpenStreetMap, and also other related activities. I tried my best to learn these and contribute to the community. So, my mentor (Mr. Ibtehal) gave me a chance to lead from the front with a new team with some new challenges. Before that, the Covid-19 situation made us gather online and run our program. But after the Covid-19 situation, while the campus was open for all, it was really hard to cope with the new situation. Because no one was willing to gather together for many reasons.

As far as I remember, my first step was to bring my team on a table. They responded to my call and we tried to figure out the solution to this problem. We held a couple of events and meetings online and tried to inspire the students of my university to get connected with us. We got a good response. Then we divided the team and sent them to our departments of the university. We had student campaigns where my team tried to convince the students about what we are doing. We had sessions about OSM, about YouthMappers, GIS, geospatial maps, etc. In reply, we got a huge response from all of the departments of my university. Not to mention, there are 5 departments; Oceanography and Hydrography, Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering, Port and Shipping management, Maritime Law and Policy, and Marine Fisheries.

The tough thing was to include female students. For that, we had to work harder so we can include female students in this community. And it was also a success. Previously, the participation of female students was about 26% of the whole chapter members. Now it is 46%, and increasing. About half of our executive committee are women. We hosted a contest on Independence Day and most of the contribution was from women. They are skillful and hard-working persons in our chapter I have observed till now.

We collaborated with chapters in our country and also abroad. We had collaborated mapathon with the UN Mappers for the first time and had training sessions for our chapter members. We had hosted most of the mapathons we got connections for our chapter. We also got a grant from the Open Mapping Hub Asia Pacific for our next vision. And it’s a matter of joy that 3 of our members got selected for the YouthMappers fellowship summit at Jamaica 2023 from Bangladesh. It is an honour for us.

So, the achievements might be small as just 2 years passed as we have developed our chapter. I am still learning and it has no end. But leading from the front taught me a lot of lessons that will help me in the near future. And I am always thankful to Mr. Ibtehal and all of my team members for their support that brought us to this stage. But need to work hard, together.

Happy mapping….


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