I don’t know if addressing someone as foreigner makes them feel disrespected or something, but I don’t say that in a negative way. ‘Foreigner’ is a common term in Bangladesh that is used to refer to a person who was born in other country and is not of Bengali nation. To make it clearer, I’d say if a child is born in a non-resident Bangladeshi family living in another country, he’ll not be termed as a foreigner. But anyone other than Bengali will be.

I always find it fascinating to meet foreigners. Those who have been following my blog for a while now might already know that I want to improve my overall skill in English. I write English to improve writing efficiency. I listen to English music and watch English movies to improve my listening efficiency. I read quite a lot of article on newspaper daily to improve my reading skill. But the only thing I miss is speak English to take my speaking skill to the next level.

As you might know, people in Bangladesh aren’t much comfortable in speaking English. Even those who update their statuses on Facebook in English aren’t comfortable in speaking English. If I try to speak English, majority of people here will get me wrong thinking I’m just trying to ‘show off’ how educated I am, which sucks! So, whenever I meet a foreigner who always speaks English, I find an opportunity to speak. I know, they suggest wannabe English speakers to talk with the mirror but I can’t do that. It looks crazy to my own self, you know.

Anyway, before meeting Mark Hillary, I met another Indian scientist at a competition where I had to ask him for a few comments on the performance of the participants from Bangladesh. I was as a journalist there and we talked a few. Since he wasn’t native English speaker either, I don’t really count him. So, Mark is the first!

mark hillary and sajib
A twisted version of this photo is on the About page. πŸ˜‰

On 29th November, Mark Hillary arranged a meetup called Dhaka TweetUp with local bloggers, freelancers and IT enthusiasts in order to know the current situation of the country’s IT industry. There we talked a lot about many things. Even after the discussion, I personally talked to Mark for a while. It was all great. I wasn’t much fluent in speaking English, though. But I still enjoyed it. Above all, Mark is an amazingly friendly person despite being such a popular figure in blogosphere and international media like The Huffington Post and Reuters.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the event, here’s details including photos on Express Bloggers. You can also check out this article that was published on Daily Sun newspaper on December 6, both written by me.

Mark Hillary in Bangladesh
Scanned version of the article. Click to enlarge.

So, that’s all I wanted to write today. It was a pleasure meeting Mark Hillary. I wish I could get chances to meet more English-speaking foreigners. πŸ˜€

18 thoughts

  1. You know, I love Bangladesh in it’s way it’s treating foreigners. Like they are really friendly and kind to you. I am not sure about Estonia. When I will take my hubby in Estonia, we will see, but I’m sure people are not there so friendly with him like Bangladeshi are with me. Of course there is a big difference about Estonian and Bangladeshi personality. I am sorry to tell but I am not so fluent in English myself, haha. Like you are writing thousand times better than me so I can say that you are very intelligent and a good learner! My first experience in talking in English was in Estonia when I was working for one guy from Finland. I still remember how shy I was back then to practice my English with him, lol. But when I lived in Cyprus for some years I got more free. I think a person can learn English best when living in UK or some place where people’s mother language is English, otherwise you’re just speaking it but really not developing, or even getting worse. Like I have got totally lazy about my English with my husband, cause he is making mistakes, which are eventually sticking with me. lol. Now I’m taking my studies in English also and there are so many words I don’t know. I constantly have to check out dictionary. I wonder if they will give me dictionary while exam, lol, otherwise I’m doomed. You are more lucky then me, in Dhaka there are so many foreigners, even more Estonians…


    1. It’s true, speaking to someone who’s not a native English speaker isn’t going to help much in improving English. And I can understand you learning English with errors from your husband. πŸ˜› Pathetic. :mrgreen:

      I can’t say that I’m lucky, though. You see, I’ve been here since I was born and this is the first time I actually met and talk to someone who is originally from another country. Yes, I agree that there are a lot of foreigners living in Dhaka, but they don’t roam around the streets waiting to be talked to, you know. 😦 (I wish they did, though πŸ˜› )


  2. As a ‘bideshi’ in Bangladesh I appreciate what you are saying from the other way around! My Bangla reading is very good and my speaking and writing are ok. But I struggle when I listen to Bangla because I work in an English Medium school and don’t have TV or radio. My wife, who works in Bangla every day is much better at listening than I am! I find that Bangladeshis are always keen to speak English with me – to improve their English – and this is a great habit. We Brits tend to be pretty awful at speaking foreign languages. Even when we can speak, we tend to be very shy and prefer English – we rarely just ‘go for it’ as you have done Sajib and start speaking. You amaze me!


    1. I guess now you understand why I was pretty much over-interested in meeting you. πŸ˜€ If you were in Dhaka, it would have been great for me. 😦


      1. We come down quite often. I am sure we’ll get the chance to meet up some time next year when we get back (just applying for visas now so we HOPE to be back in Bd. by January 3rd!) πŸ™‚


  3. Hey bro wonderful write. We should get together sometimes and talk in English, good for both of us. My girlfriend attends an English club every week on Friday, so why not us? We can do an English club at our household!

    I am good in English since I was a kid. I’m not bragging myself but that’s the truth. But speaking in English is different.

    3-4 years ago I had the chance to talk with a foreigner when one of my client called me. Ohh man! That was very hard. I could not make sentences! Till then I talked with many foreigners on skype and improved my speaking skills.

    On 2009 when I went for a trip to Cox-bazzar I met an actual foreigner, they were from Canada/USA. I talked with them. Later I met many in person. This year I met a group in TSC and made good friendship. They were from Canada, Europe, USA, they also took my phone number.

    Later last week I met Mark, his friend Peter, Martin and that’s all so far! Foreigners are here in Dhaka, just keep and eye for them, you will get a chance to talk! Just relax!


    1. Of course, we can make an attend an English club of our own. It’s definitely going to help us improve, but again, it’s not as much effective as talking to a foreigner who’s origin is in an English-speaking country. I knew you had experience in speaking over Skype, but never knew that you had connection with foreigners here. Maybe you could pass some skype IDs to me to help me out. πŸ˜€


  4. It’s so nice to read about all the cool stuff happening in your life; whether it’s your personal self-development or the development of your career. Best of luck and thank you for sharing :).


      1. I’m not talking about your outlook on life or how you feel about all of this, just matter-of-factly; it’s good to have stuff going on you know.


  5. Going through your conversations, I can come to the conclusion that you all are quite intelligent and good in English. The way you have poured your words in the sentences looks pretty well. I’m also a learner of the language and I’ve a severe passion to enhance my writing as well speaking skill. Though I’m pursuing my graduation in English Literature and Language,still facing hardships in the language; especially in the fluency. I’m an Indian.


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