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Learning to write

December 15, 2018
This photo was taken in 2012 at the launch of the Bangla Food Journeys at the Drum

I set up a blog some years ago, with the aim to write and share my journey….well the interesting ones any way.  However, something has always held me back.  I have a fear of writing, strange as this may sound, as we are always writing.  Whether that be for work, writing reports, funding applications and e-mails.  There is also the social media that I engage in, carefully crafting my ‘brand’ and image with precision (well, sometimes anyway). 

So, let’s unpack this fear and where it came from.  The fear comes from my child hood, forever being told that I am not good enough by my family, school and community.  I was like all my Bangladeshi males freinds that grew up in the mid 1980’s in Lozells. Education was not a priority for us. Instead we were all destined for careers in the restaurant trade.  Our journey on the trade started in our early teens.  Your path was mapped out by the level of your language skills.  If you spoke English; you would become a waiter and if you didn’t, you would become a chef.  My friends and I left school with no qualifications and all of them started to work full time in trade.

My journey was slightly different, I thought I would become a mechanic and did a course in Handsworth College for a year.  It took me a year to find out that being amechanic was not my calling in life…it was a dirty and a cold existence in the winter months.  Within the year I started to work full time in a restaurant in Bedford.  This was followed by Bristol, Bath, Southampton and Jersey.  Whilst this was great for a while, having money in your pockets for the first time and being away from home.  Two years into it; the fun had worn off and I realised that I wanted to do something else.

At aged 19, I started a BTEC National – Business & Finance course at North Birmingham College on a part time basis.  I scraped through the first year and the second year was more of a struggle.  This was partly because a BTEC was the equivalent of having two ‘A’ levels.  I thought, there was no way that I was clever enough to gain two ‘A’ levels.  So naturally I did not apply myself without the self believe that comes from encouragement and support.  I recall people in the community saying, ‘why is he going to college at his age’, there was another popular saying, ‘those that haven’t learned in a day, will not learn in seven days’.   The truth is, I didn’t know how to learn.  I can’t recall ever doing homework whilst I was at school….so a lack of self believe and no one to support and encourage me, meant that I failed.

I did not give up and re-enrolled.  The course tutor, Keith Jenkins took me aside and said, ‘you have 12 weeks to prove yourself’, or you will be kicked off the course.  I thought, there is two things that I can do here; walk away or prove him wrong.  I chose to prove him wrong and decided to stick it out.  I reflected on people that had passed the course last year and realised that they were not any cleverer than me, but they simply put their head down. As it happens, Keith was also my finance teacher.  A subject that I struggle with to this day.  I went to see him leading up to the exam and told him that I was struggling. He told me the areas that I should revise.  I spent every day in the library for two weeks.  When it came to the exams, I was the second person to leave the room.  Overall, for that subject I got a Merit. 

So, that was my lesson learned, you need to apply yourself and get your head down.  Once I learned how to learn, there was no stopping me.  I went on to do a degree in Youth & Community Work and that was followed by an MSc in Management & Organisational Development.  I have set myself the target to undertake a PHD before the day is done.  I am hoping for a scholarship, failing that Iwill wait until I retire.  The journey of learning and writing will continue, ‘because I am clever’

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