It was truly a special day for Saheer. As he looked ahead to the day’s plans, he thought to himself, “Today, my dream comes true.” This was his first day at Dhaka University. From his early childhood, Saheer had been dreaming of this day, though the journey to his goal was not so smooth. He had to work hard. Finally, he achieved a GPA of 5, in both his SSC and his HSC exams. After completing his HSC examination, he started preparing for his admission test to Dhaka University. He knew he was up against some tough competition.
The day of the university admission test was to be a memorable day for him. To take part in the exam he had to travel to Dhaka, a totally a new experience for him. He was from far away, born and brought up in the north of Bangladesh, in the Rangpur district. This would be the first time he had been to Dhaka. He started his journey two days before the admission test.
Though it was a long journey by train, he was not tired at all. Instead, he stared through the train window, and enjoyed the natural beauty of the Bangladeshi countryside, but he felt both tense and excited at the same time. At last, when he arrived in Dhaka, he managed to find his way through the busy Dhaka traffic to his uncle’s house, where he had arranged to stay. The warm hospitality of his uncle and aunt amazed him, and that night, he fell asleep feeling content.
Finally, the day of entrance examination arrived. Saheer woke up very early in the morning, took a shower and enjoyed the delicious breakfast made by his aunt. The exam was at 10.00 a.m. Though he was earlier than he needed to be, Saheer reached Dhaka University campus before nine o’clock. He wanted to look around a little first. Dhaka University was beyond anything he had ever imagined.
At first he saw the central library. He started dreaming of entering the library soon and reading various interesting books.
At that thought, he suddenly became very nervous. “What if I don’t qualify in the exam? What a huge opportunity I will miss in my life.” He thought. “I have to try to be confident.” he said to himself, and off he went to find the examination room. He soon found the room, and his seat, in Kala Bhaban which was a big building. The exam was challenging, but Saheer thought he had answered the questions well enough.
After the exam was over, the next two days were very tough for him. He eagerly waited for the result. Again, he felt tense and nervous. He kept checking the Dhaka University website. He couldn’t sleep. Finally, the examination results were published. Saheer’s heart was banging as he searched for his roll number. Finally, he found it.
He could hardly believe his eyes when he saw that he had scored very well in the test. Saheer phoned his parents immediately. When they heard his good news, Saheer’s parents became very excited. He was so pleased to make them so happy. Even his uncle gave him 5000 taka as a token of love. Within the next few days, Saheer was able to complete the admission procedures. He was a university student at last!
Saheer felt a huge sense of accomplishment when he attended the orientation programme. It felt like he was in a dream. The senior students welcomed the ‘freshers’ with flowers, the teachers delivered wonderful speeches and gave out course guidelines to their new students. Saheer was pleased to learn about all the different clubs at Dhaka University. In his school and college, he had attended debating competitions several times. Now, he decided to join the Dhaka University debating club. He started dreaming again. This time, in his dream, he imagined how he would become a famous debater one day. Perhaps, one day, he might even appear in a public debate on BTV.
Saheer started walking from the Kala Bhaban to the building everyone called the TSC, the Teacher-Student Centre. His plan was to collect the membership form for the debating club.
After that, he had decided to spend the money his uncle had given him on some books to learn more about debating. He had also decided to buy some new clothes. “I need to look like a proper student now.” he thought.
Suddenly, Saheer met a boy who was selling badam (nuts) in front of the TSC. He looked to be about 10 years old. He was holding a book in his hands, and other books lay scattered around him. While selling badam, the boy was also reading. Saheer became curious.
“What is your name?” he asked the boy.
“Ratan.” said the boy.
“Do you go to school?” Saheer inquired.
“No, not at all,” Ratan replied sadly.
Saheer bought some badam from Ratan and chatted some more with him. Ratan began to share more of his sad story with Saheer.
“I used to go to school…” Ratan began, “…back when I was six years old.” He explained that his teachers had said he was a brilliant student. At that time, his father had been a shopkeeper, who always encouraged and motivated Ratan to study well. Ratan’s father often bought books for his son, even though they were quite poor.
Suddenly, Ratan’s life changed. His father died and the family became helpless. Ratan had two younger sisters, and with his father’s death, his mother’s sufferings knew no bounds. At that point, Ratan had to leave school to earn money to help support his family. He started selling badam and his mother took a job as a cleaner in an office. However, Ratan had a passion for books. He continued to read as much as he could, trying to teach himself, little by little, as he read, but still he longed to go to school again. At night, after everyone in the house went to sleep, he would cry silently and hide his tears from his mother’s eyes.
Ratan’s story gave Saheer new insight. He decided to do something to bring a smile to Ratan’s face. Upon hearing Ratan’s sad story, Saheer’s dream changed. That very afternoon, he made a new plan. He decided to teach Ratan for one hour every day. Saheer bought some books and clothes for Ratan the next day using the 5000 taka his uncle had given him.
Little by little, because of Saheer’s kind help, Ratan’s life began to change. His sadness was turned around, and instead, he became extremely happy. “Now I know my life can become different, thanks to you, Saheer bhai.” he said. “You have given me hope. One day, I will take the university exam too, and one day, I will become a teacher, just like you.”
Ratan’s happiness pleased Saheer. Meeting Ratan, and discovering his thirst for learning, gave Sahan a completely new vision for his life. He realised that helping others is the true pathway to happiness. From then on, Saheer’s dreams changed. He decided to use his knowledge and skills to help other underprivileged children. Now, his dream is to find a way to make it possible for every child like Ratan to learn, no matter how sad their life has been. Now, his goal is to help their dreams come true, too.
Learn all of the words you do not already know from the first two lists below…
1. High Frequency Words from the 2nd 1000 General Service Word List
|busy||encouraged||programme (British English spelling)||tired|
|checking||exam / examination||program (American English spelling)||tough|
|clock||extremely||sad / sadly||warm|
2. High Frequency Words from the Academic Word List
3. Do you know the meaning of the words and expressions below? These are not high frequency, or common, words in English, so only learn these words and expressions if you already know ALL of the words in the two lists above, very well.
4. Comprehension Question
- What does “He was up against some tough competition” mean? (par. 1)
- Go back and look at paragraph two again. Find the word 'content'. Provide a synonym (a word with a similar meaning) for ‘content’. You should also think about how to say this word correctly. Check a dictionary to find out where the word is stressed. Is it... content or content?
- Why did Ratan continue to read so much after he had left school?
- Did Saheer buy any new clothes with the money his uncle gave him? Explain your answer.
- In what way did Ratan’s dream change? In what way did Saheer’s dream change?
5. Critical Thinking Questions
These questions require learners to use Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (The skills of analysing, applying, evaluating and creating are based on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives. (See…https://tlc.iitm.ac.in/PDF/Blooms%20Tax.pdf ).
They are useful for small group or pair discussions, when you want learners to think more deeply about the ideas in the reading, as they go beyond comprehension and recall only. If time is limited, tell your learners to choose one or two of the questions they find most interesting, and discuss only those.
Alternatively, the questions could be used as ideas for writing. If you use these ideas for a writing task, make sure your learners have the chance to exchange their writing with each other and to talk with, and ask questions of their partners about the opinions they have expressed. The exchange of ideas will enrich their understanding, and expose them to a wider range of ideas.
- Applying: Are you a university student, or do you hope to become a university student in the future? Which university do you attend or plan to attend? Why did you make this choice? In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge that university students face, these days? If you do not plan to go to university, explain what you may do instead. Give some reasons for your answer.
- Applying: What is your biggest dream? What do you need to do to achieve your dream? What challenges or problems might stand in your way? How can you overcome these?
- Evaluating: These days, many university students are finding it difficult to get a job near their home after they complete their studies. In fact, many decide to go abroad in order to get a job. Do you think a graduate should be willing to leave their country in order to find work in their field after they complete their education? Why/Why not? If you had to work outside your own country, where would you choose to work, and why? How long would you stay away? Permanently, or just for a few years? Why?
- Evaluating: In your opinion, how important is it to use your education to help other people less fortunate than yourself? Give several reasons for your answer, and provide examples to support your argument.
- Analysing: What would be some key differences between being a student at a university or being a student at a technical college or polytechnic? In what way would your experiences as a student be similar?
- Creating: If you were given the responsibility to teach another person, what would you teach and why? On a piece of loose leaf paper, and writing in English, design a programme of instruction and learning activities for your student for a week using the outline of the timetable below. Explain your timetable to a partner in English, and give reasons for your choices of subjects and activities. Be creative and have some fun with this!