Transboundary Tourism Immersion Program

 

Transboundary Tourism Immersion Program

Asian Confluence, Shillong, India and Asian Center for Development, Sylhet, Bangladesh have agreed to launch a Global Immersion Programme (GIP) for youth, especially for university students, in order to provide exposure on economic, cultural and geo-political drivers within the region and promote learning through observing the nature. Participants could directly engage themselves with diverse cultures as they transcend through such conventional excursion, which in turn will help in building up a foundation for future integration. The three tentative immersion program route follows: 

1. Assam-Meghalaya-Sylhet Immersion Program

This program aims to develop student’s communication skills with people from different nationality, ethnicity, language and culture by real life experience with them. The focus will be to introduce Northeastern Bangladesh (Sylhet region) and of India through a nature-based tour on the Assam-Meghalaya-Sylhet river circuit and to create a new space for imagination and consolidation of global studies through appreciating the nature across the borders. The destinations include three separate geographical areas of Southeast Asia: Assam and Meghalaya state of India and Sylhet division of Bangladesh. Each of these three regions makes up one section for the immersion programme, with a minimum of 10 students in a group.

The programme is designed for 15 days, where the participants will spend the first 7 days India and the last 7 days in Bangladesh or vice versa and spend their days learning about the natural, cultural and biological diversities in Assam, Meghalaya and Sylhet. Participants will enter through India and exit through Bangladesh or vice versa. The academic partners of the immersion programme will be Asian Center for Development in Bangladesh and the Asian Confluence in India.

The programme is designed for any undergraduate or graduate programme with particular interest for students of history, religion and environment. However, the exposure during the trip will attract students from all disciplines as they stroll through a diverse cultural landscape in these two countries

For enrollment, students need to pay the fee that will primarily cover the local travel cost, lodging and fooding. The fee excludes any air travel within Bangladesh and India outside; visa fees and health insurance. The programme is designed as 30 hours of field visits, 5 hours of interaction and 3 hours of debriefing activities which gives a total of 43 hours of study per week.

The Assam and Meghalaya Programme

Assam and Meghalaya is an assembly of diverse history and natural artistry that envy most other places on earth.  Participants will rediscover the diversity of culture which include geology and nature of Assam and Meghalaya, cultural variations between the lowlands of Brahmaputra River and the mountains of Meghalaya. They will also get to know how the locals live with flood and with pouring non-downpours in the monsoon months and how they have built resilience to such a natural extreme.

Other experiences will focus on developing understanding on differences in livelihood between the plains and the hills and on how people and pristine nature survived side by side for centuries.  Also an added experience will be getting familiar with indigenous innovations and in conservation efforts which may be divided into three parts: a) community based conservation of nature, b) green living concepts, and c) innovation in home-stay and community-based tourism. 

Greater Sylhet Program

The Bangladesh part of the immersion program will engage students to travel through the hillocks and haors of Sylhet.  Participants will follow a nature trail to understand natural, cultural, and biological diversities in Sylhet region and to see interconnections between the transboundary rivers. During the 7-day stay in Bangladesh, students will visit some unique ecosystems like haors (natural bowl-shaped low land) that immerse under water in monsoon and creates the world’s largest freshwater swamp forests, the tropical rain forests and the Tea estates. Students will comprehend things associated to transboundary flows of water and its seasonality, rights and access issues on water and wetlands and fisheries and livestock production systems in remote and fragmented villages. Other objectives will be learning the methods of nature-conservation embraced by communities and governments; explore the conservation of fish, bird and animal sanctuaries which is a challenge in densely populated areas and analyze possibilities of nature-based tourism to help local communities.