With high spirits and zeal, ULAB’s Department of English and Humanities conducted its Orientation Program to welcome the incoming batches of BA and MA students in Spring 2024 on January 18, 2023. The theme of the event was “Spring to Excellence” and the Orientation Speaker was DEH alumna, Ms. Shamael Mortuza, an Ontario Certified English Language Teacher with an International Certificate in Teaching English as an Additional Language, currently working as an ESL/EAP instructor for adult learners in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada. Ms. Mortuza has a Masters in English Literature from Queen’s University in Kingston, a Masters in English Literature and Cultural Studies from ULAB and a Bachelors in English Literature and Language from ULAB.
The program began with a welcome speech by Ms. Arifa Ghani Rahman, Head and Associate Professor of the Department. She provided the students with some words of advice in utilizing their time at university wisely, and to grow into a person to be proud of. The faculty members then introduced themselves after which Ms. Rahman introduced the students to the other key personnel of the department: the admin officer, the TAs, and the Supervisor to the English Zone. She ended her speech by expressing her thanks to the teaching assistants, volunteers, performers, and organizing batches of the event for their support in the program.
Professor Kaiser Haq, the Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, was invited on stage to address the new faces of the department. He brought to attention the diversity amongst the respected faculty members of DEH, and how the learnings acquired in university always bear real-life applicability. Then Professor Shamsad Mortuza, Special Advisor to the ULAB Board of Trustees, in his speech, described ULAB as a place for growth and evolution, where the faculty members are diverse yet share a strong bond. He emphasized the beliefs of the university, which include well-rounded knowledge gathered from numerous initiatives that can then be implemented in other aspects of one's journey.
The Orientation Speaker, Ms. Shamael Mortuza, an alumna of the department, then addressed the freshers. Along with being an English Language Instructor in the Greater Toronto Area, Ms. Mortuza is a fiction writer whose works have been included in journals and magazines such as Kitaab, Borderless, The Daily Star, and World Poetry Today. Furthermore, she is also the author of the poetry collection One Minute Past Midnight. Ms. Mortuza began her speech by mentioning how she had grown up on different continents but then moved to Bangladesh where her affinity towards literature and linguistics prompted her to apply to ULAB. Through the motivation and inspiration she received from the faculty members, she was able to achieve numerous accolades, such as being on the Dean's Honors List, Vice Chancellor's Honors List, Valedictorian at ULAB's 2021 Convocation, and a gold medal for her MA grades. She acknowledged that, although she chose the traditional route of becoming an educator, students should not narrow their perspectives on what can be achieved through studying English. Detailing her work in Canada with international students and in language centers and programs such as LINC, Ms. Mortuza advised ESL and EFL students never to hesitate to make their voices heard in a classroom. Additionally, she describes university as a place to unlearn certain preconditioned prejudices or biases and focus on bettering oneself as a person. She ended her inspiring speech by wishing the best to all the new students and hoping that ULAB would aid in their pursuit of becoming a better person. A token of appreciation was then handed to her by Professor Kaiser Haq.
Ms. Sirajum Munira Joti, Supervisor of the English Zone, was welcomed on stage where she explained the concept and functionality of the English Zone. This is where students are assisted with their writing and speaking skills by the peer tutoring service. The Zone also conducts various free workshops, guides, and aids that the students were advised to take advantage of.
During the cultural segment, Jannatul Tasnia, a student of Batch 232, graced the stage with a wonderful song performance. This was followed by a captivating dance number by Prity Chanda and Anika Anowar of Batch 233. Rohan Sheikh, a student of Batch 223, then took the stage to perform a lively medley of timeless songs. Following this, Kashfia Israt, from MA Batch 241, was called up on stage to speak on behalf of the new graduate students. She shared her admiration for the faculty members of the department and her gratitude to be able to learn from them. She described DEH as a platform that allows students to impart on adventures that contribute to the flourishment of their best selves. Abdullah Jubair, from Batch 241, represented the incoming undergraduate students, conveying his thoughts on the beauty of ULAB and its campus, and the university as a place that celebrates individuality and creativity. He elaborated that the faculty members encourage critical thinking and discussions, and the knowledge and skills gained here will go beyond the classroom. He ended his speech by wishing his batch mates a good journey ahead. The performances concluded with a beautiful collage of a song and a recitation by Afifah Farzana of MA Batch 241.
The program was organized by Batches 231, 232, and 233, under the guidance of their Batch Managers, Senior Lecturers Tanzia Siddiqua and Al Mahmud Rumman, and Lecturers Oliur Rahman Sun and Jahanara Tariq. The program was hosted by Sadia Mukarrama (MA Batch 232) and Azeema Anhar (BA Batch 232).
Report by Marifa Khan (211013012)