Sophomore Tanvir Kalam spent his winter break doing what few can claim they've done: He spent the month visiting his family in Bangladesh and filming a documentary about his time there.
Kalam spent the month in Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh, where his relatives live. He said that he had not been to Bangladesh in about a decade. "I haven't been back in a while, partially because of the distance," he said. "I figured I might as well document it." Kalam said that he taped almost everything during his time there.
"A lot of times I would just tape what I saw walking around on the roads," he said. "As someone who enjoys watching documentaries, it was cool to make my own." Kalam filmed about four hours of footage, but said that he edited it down to 20 minutes. He brought the documentary back to share with his friends and others interested.
Since Kalam had not been to Bangladesh in so long, he had no memories of many of his relatives. "It was as if I was meeting some of them for the first time," he said. "There were a lot of kids my age who I'd like to see again somewhere down the road."
While in Dhaka, Kalam said that he spent most of his time with family and experiencing many things about the city, including its mosquito population. "For the first four days they ate me alive," he said.
According to Kalam, there are striking differences between Bangladesh and the United States. "For one thing, there's a lot more poverty there. It's hard to understand the extent of it until you see it." He also noted that there is significantly less diversity in Bangladesh. "When there's a foreigner you can spot them from a mile away," he said.
Kalam said that one of the highlights of his trip was being present for the first election in Bangladesh in eight years. He went to a national mosque where he got to meet and talk to a British reporter for Al Jazeera, who was interviewing a religious leader. "I was filming him while he was being filmed for the news," he said. He also got footage of their conversation and said that he saw the reporter on the news talking about the war in Palestine.
Kalam said that he loves to travel and wanted to make a documentary in order to share his experiences with those who didn't have to the chance to go to Bangladesh. "Not everyone can travel, and I wanted to bring back and share a unique aesthetic," he said.
"I learned from making this documentary and hopefully in the future I can make better ones. I do narrate in this one, but it's not National Geographic. It's a much lower budget film. In fact, there is no budget," he said with a laugh.
Kalam said that he hopes to travel more in the future. "I'd like to study abroad in Morocco," he said. "There are so many places you can go. I think it would be a waste of youth to spend all my time in one place."