Abroad View
Building a better future in Bangladesh
One day almost a year ago, April 24, 2013, started out like any other for so many who worked in a factory building called Rana Plaza. Suddenly, the structure collapsed. People in all of Bangladesh and around the world were very sad. In the accident, more than 1,100 died. Bangladesh is a small country in Asia with a huge amount of people. The population is 154.7 million. A large number of people are poor in this country -- 26 percent live below the poverty level. Many are forced to find cheap jobs and don’t worry about their own security. There are a lot of garment factories in Bangladesh that hire people for low pay at high safety risk -- including teens. In Bangladesh, many of the Rana Plaza survivors are having a tough time adjusting to lost limbs and shattered lives. And the country worries about more tragedies to come. That is why many are now saying that the government needs to pay more attention to old buildings and their owners.
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Imagine a beautiful place that has good beaches, lots of sun, and natural food that people cook all day. With more than 6,000 people from Cape Verde living in Boston, many people want to know more about the spot made up of many islands off the coast of West Africa. It is considered a small world, with a rich culture, that is filled with people who are hospitable and humble. Much of the lifestyle is rural. Soccer and church-going make up a lot of the social interaction. Music is a major export. Many young people and their parents have left Cape Verde and settled in places like Brockton, New Bedford, and Boston in search of a more plentiful life. They are following the path of ancestors who arrived on these shores in the early 19th century as crew members aboard whaling ships.
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Xhorxhia Papa, 17, says she decided to start an Albanian culture club in the fall at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science because she wanted to share with others the traditions of the place she comes from. “It is important to unite with people from the same background and talk to them about your experience,” she says. The club meets once a week and at any given time there are up to 15 students in attendance -- not all Albanian. “As an Albanian, I want people to know more of Albania than the fact that it’s just a third-world country,” says Klea Hima, 17, who attends the O’Bryant. “Even though it’s behind on the economy and it’s a small place, it has such a fantastic history, many tourist places to visit, and we have such a different yet amusing culture.”
Club members discuss the things that set Albania apart from other countries. “I want to teach others about our interesting traditional clothes, dances, and beliefs that make us unique from the rest of the world,” says Ina Dodoveci, 16, who goes to the O’Bryant. The author is a co-founder of the club. 
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Immigrants like me are self-learners. Getting to know English can happen in school but also everywhere you go. If you do not learn this language, your life is going to be hard since you are not going to be able to communicate with others. Every time I do not understand a word, I look it up and attach it to my brain so it can stay there.
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The Learning Lab
"If you are motivated, you will figure out a way to learn on your own"
I taught myself how to make a PowerPoint. I was in 10th grade when I created one for a program about health care. We had to design a clinic treating major health issues in my community. If you are motivated, you will figure out a way to learn on your own. You will have a better idea of what is going on around you. The elements you taught yourself are often the ones that stick in your mind because you valued the energy and time to learn them. It’s tremendous to have knowledge that you learned on your own even if it isn’t graded for points.
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