Agami Town Hall Meeting

Expatriate Town Hall Meeting with Ambassador Dan Mozena and US Congressman Mike Honda

Written by: Behnaz Ahmed (Berkeley, California)

Engaging in civic duty and reform for Bangladesh is often a challenge for non-resident Bangladeshis. Local Bangladeshi organizations in the Northern California Bay Area are trying to change this sentiment.

On Sunday March 23rd, non-resident Bangladeshis throughout the San Francisco Bay Area had the opportunity to attend a town-hall meeting with special guests Dan Mozena, the US Ambassador to Bangladesh, and Mike Honda, the US Congressman for California’s 17th congressional district. The event was sponsored by Agami, a San Francisco Bay area based non-profit organization working to promote education for underprivileged children in Bangladesh. With the successful operation of ten primary high schools across Bangladesh, Agami’s main focus is creating an enriching school environment and localizing global innovation in education technology to empower underprivileged students.

Agami’s primary goal in organizing such an event was to initiate dialogue between non-resident Bangladeshis in the Bay Area and the US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan Mozena, and US Congressman, Mike Honda. Agami hopes that such dialogue will inspire ideas on how to strengthen the cultural and economic ties between the US and Bangladesh.                           

The town-hall began with an introduction of Agami’s initiatives and fundraising goals by president Mahmudul Hassan and fundraising director Murshida Choudhury.

Congressman Honda kicked off the the town- hall discussion by discussing opportunities for American entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. Congressman Honda firmly believes that “strengthening ties to Bangladesh and continuing educational developments on the ground will benefit both the US and Bangladesh”.

When Ambassador Dan Mozena took the floor, the audience of Bangladeshi expatriates was immediately taken by Mozena’s charisma as he shed light on the future of US-Bangladesh relations. Throughout his speech, Mozena reiterated how Bangladesh’s greatest strength is its people. Mozena went on to say that throughout his years in foreign service he has yet to see a population more “ resilient, creative, and entrepreneurial” as the people of Bangladesh. According to Mozena, “Bangladeshis think big” and it is his duty as ambassador to make sure these big ideas reach a global sector.

How non-resident Bangladeshis can get involved in Bangladesh’s future was a major topic of inquiry in the Q&A final segment of the town-hall. Ambassador Dan Mozena encouraged expatriates to get involved with ventures like liftbangla.org, an online platform supported by the U.S State department which allows individuals to find and support effective organizations in Bangladesh. Mozena emphasized that non-resident Bangladeshis are  natural bridges between the US and Bangladesh. Fariba Khan, an audience member and local software engineer who hails from BUET, remarks that Mozena’s love for Bangladesh “inspired her” and she hopes that she and fellow expatriates use this inspiration to continue supporting entrepreneurial, educational, and economic advancements in her homeland.

Written by: Behnaz Ahmed (Berkeley, California)