Voices of Youth: A Hope for One South Asia from Young Economists at Students' Meet

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Young economists from South Asia at South Asia Economics Students’ Meet (SAESM) 2018, Chittagong, Bangladesh
Photo Credits: Nikita Singla/World Bank

At the 14th South Asia Economic Students’ Meet (SAESM), more than 100 top economics undergraduates and faculties from seven countries in South Asia convened in Chittagong, Bangladesh to discuss how greater regional integration in South Asia can help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) . As these young economists engaged in vigorous academic competitions and research presentations on South Asia’s development opportunities, they also created fond memories and built lifelong friendships. Was SAESM 2018 a new hope for #onesouthasia? Let’s hear it from the students themselves.

Image“With the momentum built up, the stage set, with a banner that in all its glory was decorated with the flags of the seven South Asian states, we sat in our respective country groups to embark on a three-day long journey that was to change my perception of South Asia forever. The dis-embarkment on this passage saw us divided by geographical boundaries, as India and Pakistan made sure to sit the farthest away from each other. The end to this voyage, however, painted a story not many foresaw – twenty Indians and Pakistanis crammed together in a single bus, discussing our common history with a fondness anew to most, accompanied by bursts of people from either side breaking into rounds of Antakshari. At that point, we were one! " – Alizeh Arif, Lahore School of Economics

Image“On my flight to Bangladesh, I had things like “how will I present my paper to 150 strangers” and “how will I be able to mingle with people from other countries” on my mind. But on my way back to India, the only thing on my mind was “how to get this stay extended by any means possible”. SAESM made me see things from a bigger perspective which might not have happened if not for the love and harmony spread by the Bangladeshi hosts and everyone else. I felt at home when I saw how Afghans, Sri Lankans and Bhutanese dancing to the beats of Chammak Challo (a Bollywood dance number). It was heart melting to see how Indians and Pakistanis fought to be in the same bus. For me, this is already One South Asia.”  Harshit Garg, Christ University, Bangalore

Image“SAESM is quite different from other academic exchange programs. Despite the political tensions in the region, all the young economists gathered peacefully in Chittagong. Even before it started, SAESM gave the feeling of one united region. A unique concept and experience, it was! For me, SAESM went even beyond – it transitioned me from an Afghan to a South Asian. On behalf of the Afghan delegation, I invite SAESM to Kabul to show our commitment to One South Asia. ” - Ebadulrahman Hashemi, Kabul University

Image“I feel SAESM is about competition, networking, lifelong friendships, learning environment – all in one package. Let’s create more opportunities for students to experience the education and culture of fellow SAARC members. That will pave the way for One South Asia!” - Basuna Shrestha, Tribhuvan University of Nepal

 Image“As 14th SAESM fades behind us and its legacy roller-coasters on, I miss every bit of this enriching experience. Beyond the unmistakable sense of achievement and enthusiasm which resonated across the conference sessions, SAESM helped forge friendships and harmony as we danced to Bollywood tunes and strolled the midnight streets of Chittagong. SAESM gave me a smorgasbord of key development issues to think about and a host of ingenious minds to explore practical solutions to regional challenges plaguing South Asia. Its unique focus on mutual learning and co-operation in a pluralistic environment makes it very much the repository of the hope and effort that the South Asian academia offers the world. If I can co-author a paper and undertake field research with my fellow Pakistani friend in the remote areas of Pakistan, that’s One South Asia for me !” – Rohit James Joseph, St. Xavier's College, Mumbai

SAESM – a new hope for One South Asia indeed!

One South Asia
Students Celebrate #OneSouthAsia

Nearly 100 top economics undergraduates and faculties from all over #SouthAsia convened last week in #Bangladesh to engage and discuss South Asia’s development opportunities -- and have fun together: #SAESM #OneSouthAsia Sanjay Kathuria Nikita Singla

Posted by World Bank South Asia on Monday, January 22, 2018


Nikita Singla

Consultant, South Asia Regional Integration

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