"A Walk to Remember"
Europe for the first time! Lots of excitement accumulated in me, and also clouds of fear.
Due to the different cultural backgrounds, I was a bit afraid if I would be able to use the time properly. After attending the seminar, I learned that if you are ‘liberally’ minded, there’s no need to worry. The way the seminar was conducted, is a reflection of ‘liberals’ at mind.
IAF (the International Academy for Leadership) has a beautiful campus. This is a perfect example of ‘Bauhaus’ architecture. The building itself holds the spirit of freedom. The smiling faces of the staff at the reception and at the restaurant made me feel at home. The participants from the different regions of the world with their diverse backgrounds, ages, beliefs all were tied up at some point: We want a better city!
When I am abroad, I wake up early in the morning to take a walk. The beauty of Gummersbach allured most of the participants for a morning walk. I miss the walk so badly now!
Though my expectations were inclined to the technical sides of Smart City and modern mobility, questioning Smart Cities from a philosophical and economic perspective blew my mind. The facilitators with their learning and teaching methods successfully engaged us with the lessons and made us comfortable to contribute.
The group discussions focused on related issues of the Smart City: Mobility and infrastructure, climate change and the environment, democratic and civic participation, data protection and privacy, the future of work, atomization and community are just some of the topics discussed. The ‘world café’, podcast session, and the debate club were methods new to me. Producing tangible outcomes at the sessions was carefully done.
From landing at Cologne until the end “German time” amazed me most. They are very strict about it and they respect it.
The excursion to Cologne was another excitement. I was waiting to visit that city and see their urban spaces. The walkability, traffic management, the restaurants, riverside public places, the museums and, of course, the Cathedral enriched my knowledge. The Kranhaus in Rheinauhafen of Cologne is an urban renovation project which was also on my list.
I found the architectural and urban issues of this project quite successful. We also visited a case study site of Smart City Cologne initiative. E-Car parking, district heating some of the smart solutions were explained to us.
In Cologne, my friend from Bangladesh who is doing his PhD in Bonn accompanied me. In Dhaka, we couldn’t meet for three years. In Cologne, it was a ‘reunion’! Having a friend, who knows the city well was a blessing as we could rush to markets for quick shopping.
I loved the facilitators’ enthusiasm during the seminar and in the free time: they walked with us in the lush green of the Gummersbach hilly environs during lunch breaks, became our friends at the bar. In the evenings we engaged in discussions, arguments, played games and were so vibrant that I didn’t miss a day. Every city has problems of a different nature, the networking will help me in my future activities. The way we connected with each other has the strength to do something great. Through the Facebook group we learn what’s going on about Smart Cities around the world. The learning methods will help me in my personal career.
Being at IAF has not only opened me up to challenging ideas but introduced me to a whole new level of human interaction. I have made many friends, who will always be a small piece of my life. In my whole life, it’s a walk to remember.
Sheikh Mohammad Rezwan
Sheikh Mohammad Rezwan is currently working as a Senior Lecturer, Department of Architect at Daffodil International University (DIU) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He recently attended FNF-IAF's leadership program in Gummersbach, Germany on Smart Cities and Modern Mobility. In this report, he is sharing his personal thoughts.