This Spring, Surfing The Nations embarks on their 10th annual Bangladesh Surfing Adventure, from April 9th until May 3rd. The team will be venturing to the outer island of St. Martin, as well as surfing Cox’s Bazar, and holding the annual Freedom Surf Contest, the only surf contest in the country.
In keeping with their mission of giving back, the team is collecting surf gear and clothing for the surf club in Cox’s Bazar, and also bringing clothing and supplies to the Burmese refugee population.
It is incredible to see how the sport has grown since STN first started to go to Bangladesh in 2004, and even more fascinating to see how surfing has impacted Bengali girls. Nasima is one of those girls whom STN has had the privilege to introduce surfing to.
Filmmaker Heather Kessinger was inspired to capture the story of Nasima and give a glimpse into the life of the young women in Bangladesh. The final leg of the film entitled ‘The Most Fearless’ will include footage from the Freedom Surf Contest.
Check out the trailer for ‘The Most Fearless’ below and watch this space for more updates on the trip!
(Don’t forget to follow us on instagram @surfingthenations and watch the hashtag #stngo for photo updates!)
One of the most intriguing things to do in a foreign country is to go shopping; browsing through the local shops, seeing what the people stock their homes with, trying new foods and drinks along the way, and of course, looking for little treasures to bring back. It’s these little things that we carry back in our suitcase that remind us of the things we loved about the place we had to leave.
At STN, we are exposed to all kinds of new foods, smells, clothing, simply from what people bring back from their trips. But with only one carry-on bag for an entire month, what do people choose to take up their precious space?
In today’s blog, our creative arts producer, Kirsten Roskos shares what treasures she picked up when she was in Bangladesh with the team in April. Enjoy getting a little glimpse of a Bengali market, and maybe make a shopping list for yourself if you are headed that way soon!
Today’s post is from our Bangladesh team member, Taylor Jones. Taylor just graduated the internship mid-April and after a few short days, took off for Bangladesh. She sent us a little update on what’s been going on the first few days of being there. Next up, they’ll be getting ready for the annual Aloha Surf Contest! Enjoy, and check back for more updates from the team!
“Well, where do I even begin! It sure was a long forty hours of traveling to Bangladesh. We had three flights, a few long layovers, and a crazy bumpy bus ride that I will never forget.
We arrived in Dhaka with twenty-one suitcases, nine surfboard bags, and each of our two carry on bags! We piled the luggage onto carts and made our way outside of the airport to our personal bus that Aziz, our Bangladeshi friend and former intern at STN, rented for us! Andy, our team member from Australia was also with Aziz since he arrived a day earlier. It was refreshing to know that we all made it safely and that our entire team was now together.
Our bus ride was a wild fifteen hours long! Let’s just say there really aren’t any rules when it comes to driving in Bangladesh! There was constant swerving, speeding, and slamming of brakes. As crazy as the bus ride was, I absolutely loved the suspense. We finally arrived to our Hotel in Cox’s Bazar at 2:30am.
Our first day here was pretty mellow. We just became familiar with the town driving around, eating at the local restaurant, and buying our own three pieces, the traditional Bangladeshi outfit for women. As we explored the town, so many colors overwhelmed my eyes, different smells took over my nose: good and bad, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful all the people were. It was nice to have a day with not too much going on to soak everything in.
The last couple days here has been one stop to the next. We have been surfing three times so far; the water is warm and the waves aren’t too big. We have been to some of the surf club boy’s homes; all their families are so kind and welcoming. One day, Aziz gave us a tour of the school that he went to as a child and we got to play with the kids that are attending there now. After that, we went on a boat ride to a harbor and Aziz showed us a fish market where he used to work.
Later on, all of us girls got to spend a few hours with a few local girls doing nails, henna, and braiding hair. Even though we didn’t understand too much of each other’s language, the room was filled with laughter and smiles. A few of the street kids have been hanging out with us from morning till we go to sleep; following us everywhere.
All of us are enjoying our time here and no one wants to go home. We are building many relationships, which will make it even harder to leave. It is amazing to see how much transformation has come to Bangladesh since Surfing The Nations first came here. We are all very blessed to be here and are excited to see what the next two weeks has in store for all of us!”
“Surfing has taken root in Bangladesh. Jafar Alam, the country’s first surfer, is a national celebrity whose days are packed teaching and promoting the sport throughout his country. He is one of 60 core Bangladeshis who call themselves surfers and are pioneering the sport to creating their own unique surf culture. Yet in a country of 160,000,000 people, where surfing popularity is spreading like fire, why are there only 60 regular surfers? The answer is simple: The number of surfers is determined by the same number of surfboards available. Surfing the Nations recognized this need and started meeting it by bringing surfboards from Hawaii to Bangladesh every year since 2003. support the surfing community.
After meeting Jafar in Indonesia in 2008, and hearing about the great need for surfboards and basic things like surf wax, a dream that I buried years ago reignited. The dream that started on my first day surfing: to make surfboards. The lure of getting to work, creating, shaping, painting, and surfing on something I had made fascinated me. The ability to close up shop and head to the beach when the waves were good, gripped me. That dream was eventually put on the shelf while I pursued other things people my age are supposed to, like getting a college degree. Making surfboards for my friends was my only connection to that dream, and it was few and far between. Whilst talking with Jafar, my mind was flooded with the idea that I need go there and help to develop surfboard shaping. Out of all the countries in the world that needed surfboards, Bangladesh was at the top of the list. I had an opportunity to to do something I had dreamed about and also further Surfing The Nations vision to develop surfing in that country. The dream was the same, but the motives had changed from my own enjoyment, to serving others, which has always ended up being more satisfying.
This past November, a local Bangladeshi named Kamrul and I made our way through the country in search of the raw materials used to make surfboards. We met up with a rad French organization that was developing jute, a local natural fiber, into a cloth that could replace fiberglass. To our surprise, we found all the materials needed for surfboards through the shipyard. Kamrul and all the other surfers were blown away; It was actually possible for them to make their own surfboards! Soon, they would no longer have to wait once a year for a chance to be given a surfboard by Surfing the Nations. They can now make and surf new shapes they never have, or start a surf shop to produce and sell them. The community of surfers can now enjoy the sport and earn a living doing what they love.
Surfing The Nations returns to Bangladesh this April to further the development of surfboard making and to share hope and love with the people. We have a lot of work cut out for us: sustainable and eco-friendly materials need to be adapted, shaping rooms need to be built, surfboard and fin design need to be taught, and the surfers need business training. Surfing The Nations would like to invite you to be a part of this. Whether you are a surfer or not, you can join us and bring stoke to Bangladesh. We are heading out on April 10th-May 3rd. If you can’t come, but would like to help out,we are also looking for donations of surf gear and supplies to take with us. For more info on ways to help out, email firstname.lastname@example.org” -ZT
It has been a quick yet fabulous month in Bangladesh and the team has been making their way back home to Hawaii. 12 hours on a bus from Coxs Bazar to Dhaka, an airplane through Thailand, and a couple more flights over the Pacific and I’m sure they will be sleeping for the next day just recovering from an exhausting travel.
Rickshaws rides and elephants, surfboards and street-kids, three-pieces and board shorts. You can begin to realize the world of a difference the sport of surfing might pose in a country like Bangladesh. But after only 30 days, the 2012 Bangladesh team hosted a nation-wide surfing competition in Cox’s Bazar, an all-girls surf camp and outreaches to the neighboring country of Myanmar. Continue Reading
As promised, the Bangladesh team update! Get a glimpse of what it’s like to be there through the eyes of team member Kirsten Jackson, as she shares her perspective on the country, the people, the experience.
After 3 days of flying and a 14 hour bus ride, we finally made it to beautiful Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
We’ve got an awesome team out here! So much has happened in such a short time. Our days are filled with early morning dawn patrols, promptly followed by breakfast at the local hotspot “Poushee” (Our absolute favorite)! Next, we cruise around Bahatchurat, the town the surf club boys live in. There’s so much to see and experience during the ten minute walk down the main drive : constant honking from the rickshaws and tomtoms, people everywhere, kids on their way to school, market craziness, cows walking in the middle of the road, selling, buying, bartering. You’re hot and sweaty (and, mind you, it’s only 9am). Finally, half way through the town we meet all the families we’ve come to love. This is what life’s about. We are so blessed to be a part of this community and to live life with these beautiful people.
In Bangladesh, life and relationships grow over meals. On average we get fed about 6 meals a day!
The rest of our days are filled with cruising with the surf club guys, visiting with their families, taking the kids surfing, meeting new people, sharing life, market shenanigans, dancing and singing.
Coming up soon we’ve got a pool tournament, birthday parties and of course, STN’s annual Bangladesh Freedom Surf Contest on Friday, September 28! We’re amping and ready to share the stoke of surfing!
Keep checking back for more updates from our Bangladesh team!
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
Today, we sent back 2 of our Bengali friends with a team of 10 STN staff for the 8th annual, month-long Bangladesh trip.
The journey all started eight years ago, when the founder of STN looked at a map and noticed that Bangladesh had the longest sand beach in the world.
Shortly after that, a handful of people touched down in Bangladesh, and through meeting one lone surfer in Bangladesh, the sport of surfing and the culture of giving back began to take roots in the country.
We’ve been going back to Bangladesh for several years, so what’s different about this year?
In the previous years, STN has been teaching surf to the locals and helped them establish a surf club. We’ve held an annual surf contest and provided food for the street kids involved in the surf contests. As the old proverb goes, we were able to ‘feed’ them temporarily, and teach them how to do some things for themselves. Now, the connections have been made, the club is established, and we see that it is vital to move into intently teaching them ‘how to fish’: rising up leaders of integrity to benefit the community and their whole country, one person at a time. Continue Reading
It’s Friday! Here at STN we have an diverse blend of people, which means we always have a good bit of international tunes going through the office. In a few days, two of our surfers from Bangladesh return home and take a team of our staff with them. In honor of them, we give you the relaxing (apart from the creepy stalker-ish video) tunes of Bollywood! Have a wonderful and relaxing Labor Day weekend!
Song: Rabbah Mein Toh, from the movie ‘Mausam’
I first saw Abdoul Aziz three years ago while watching the documentary ‘Gum For My Boat.’ He was speaking his native language of Bengali at a beach in Bangladesh and still very much a boy. This morning, I saw Aziz as a grown up man, sit in front of a large group of people in Hawaii and tell his story to a large audience in English.
How do things like this happen? How can a boy that used to throw his books in the bushes on the way to school and go crabbing instead, be captivating an audience in a place and a language that he could never grasp a year ago?
Transformation. It’s a big word, it evokes big dreams, yet ever the paradoxical thing, it always starts small.
STN started going to Bangladesh almost a decade ago. The dream began when Tom Bauer saw that the longest sand beach in the world was in Cox’s Bazar. A few people took off to check it out, and after meeting the first Bengali surfer, connections were made and the forming of the Bangladesh Surf Club took shape. This surf club is made up of boys and girls with stories and Aziz was one of those boys. Surfing is the thing that connected him to these strange foreigners and through his friendships with them, he began to observe that the lives of the surfers he met were different: they came to give and not to take. They acknowledged and cared for those that society had ignored. Aziz’s life slowly started to change: at first with just one board, one wave, one friend.
Through the tireless persistence of those closest to Aziz and the generosity of many, Aziz got the chance to come to the surfing mecca of Oahu, Hawaii and do an internship with STN. It was there that he began to learn not only more about surfing, but primarily about leadership and what a big role serving plays a part in that. But the story doesn’t end in Hawaii. With the new leadership skills and the hope that has born, Aziz is going back to invest in his country, which is first of all, people.
This video of ‘Transformation’ shows only a small part of Aziz’s story and we hope that it will inspire all of you to take small yet committed steps to bring hope and change to someone’s life.
This video highlights what STN is doing globally. After you check out the video, find out how you can be a part of the vision to bring transformation to the town of Wahiawa through the GIVE 2012.