From my desk to yours: Israt Ara Islam
Posted: 23 June 2020
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are sharing the experiences of Australia Awards alumni and scholars while they navigate through a new normal.
Whether working or studying from home, schooling children while also juggling professional duties, or providing frontline COVID-19 support, these scholars and alumni will be sharing their struggles, tips, silver linings and dreams for the future.
The reflections below come from alumna Israt Ara Islam in Bangladesh. Through an Australia Awards Scholarship, Israt completed a Master of Educational Leadership from the University of Western Australia in 2017.
Can you tell us about your current role, what you are up to and how you are contributing to your country’s development?
“I am currently working from home as a Scholarships Coordinator for Australia Awards – Bangladesh. Since the lockdown went into effect in Bangladesh, I have been assisting future scholars by arranging Australia Awards Scholarship information sessions online every week. During the sessions, I provide useful tips for lodging a successful application. As an alumna, I also share my personal positive Australia Awards experience to motivate potential applicants—both through these sessions and also through promoting the program on social media. I am well connected with my fellow Australia Awards alumni through social media and I feel proud to learn about their contributions in making a difference during the COVID-19 crisis in Bangladesh.”
How did your Australia Awards Scholarship help you get to this point in your career?
“My Australia Awards experience helped boost my self-confidence, enhanced my leadership qualities, and broadened my perspective to accept and navigate through challenges in the workplace. I consider myself lucky for receiving the opportunity to join the Australia Awards team so I can give back to the Program.”
“I am well connected with my fellow Australia Awards alumni through social media and I feel proud to learn about their contributions in making a difference during the COVID-19 crisis in Bangladesh.”
How are you finding the ‘working from home’ experience?
“My home has always been my favourite place, and several times I have imagined that life would be great if I could work from home and have more time with my family. The lockdown has proven that I was completely wrong! Being at home during this lockdown has been very challenging for me. My daily routine has changed completely. At the beginning, I found it very difficult to cope with ‘working from home’ life but with time I have managed to devise a plan for doing my office tasks and performing my family responsibilities at regular intervals. Work has been smooth so far, with regular cooperation and support from my colleagues and supervisor, although I miss the fun we had at our workplace.”
What are you doing (outside of your work) to look after yourself and keep your mind active?
“As the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Bangladesh increases, the biggest challenge has been to avoid the feeling of uncertainty about the future. However, I have been trying to stay positive and taking care of my and my family’s wellbeing, especially that of my teenage twin boys. I make every effort to keep them busy. We are working on our small garden and are planning a project together to expand it after the lockdown is over. I am also involving the boys in small craft projects and household chores. I’m regularly connecting with my relatives and friends through Zoom and Skype.”
Is there anything new you are hoping to learn while you are required to stay at home?
“One thing I have discovered about myself is that my regular busy schedule works to motivate me. If I had not been doing something before the pandemic, I have not been inspired to do it now. Consequently, I feel my personal growth has slowed down during the COVID-19 lockdown. To motivate myself, I have recently enrolled in a Project Management Certification preparation online course. I have also made a list of the unread books on my shelves and have made good progress in reading these so far.”
Do you have any tips to offer fellow alumni on working remotely and living well during these uncertain times?
“I encourage my fellow alumni to consider the lockdown as an opportunity to make time for yourself and your family members, and to prepare yourself for a post-COVID-19 world. This crisis has demonstrated that wealth does not help in such times as much as knowledge and wisdom do. With this learning, I’m optimistic that people will deal with this global crisis with patience and prepare themselves to embrace the challenges of a post-COVID-19 world.”
“I encourage my fellow alumni to consider the lockdown as an opportunity to make time for yourself and your family members, and to prepare yourself for a post-COVID-19 world.”
What is something you hope to achieve either professionally or personally when the COVID-19 crisis is over?
“The lockdown has taught me the precious lesson that we need very little for living and all that matters is the love and compassion we share for each other. As a social responsibility activity, I’m now working with friends on fundraising activities to help people in the remote areas in Bangladesh. I am also involved with my ex-colleagues in collecting funds to buy groceries for those who have lost their jobs. This year, my family and I decided we would not do any Eid shopping; we instead donated the amount we would have spent to people in need during the crisis. I hope to continue my support for the underprivileged when the COVID-19 crisis is over.”