Hear from Seeam Shahid Noor, a student who was successful in making his dream of studying atHarvard University come true. Seeam is also known for initiating 10 Minute School Global.
How did it all begin? Your academic journey of Harvard?
Feels very dramatic when you phrase it that way. So, it all began in a room known as the “Porch” in Nazrul House of Mirzapur Cadet College. It was around midnight and I was having one of those deep late-night conversations with my friend Mubtaseem Zaman (a Lester Pearson Scholar at the University of Toronto and one of the most charismatic and ambitious friends I have had). We were complaining about how you can only become what you have seen and if no one around you tried to chase a dream down a certain path, chances are that no one in that community will ever end up doing that. Someone has to be the first one to blaze the trail and since the cadet college community hasn’t had many in recent years, we lost our capacity to dream. This made us realize that in order to chase our dreams, if we wanted to study in the best institutions around the world coming from a military school, we cannot follow a trail that has been taken before and that we must make our own so that our juniors can follow that.
What struggles did you face?
Mostly, doubt from people who cared about us. It wasn’t doubt per se; it was a fear they had that we would lose everything if we go down a path a filled with uncertainty. We were preparing our US applications during national admission season after our HSC when I had to prepare for SATs, National Medical exam, ISSB, DU IBA exam simultaneously. So, my family feared that my investment in the US applications will lead to weaker preparation in all of them and I wouldn’t get in anywhere. Those were rough times when I had to study over 12 hours every day. And it’s hard to stay focused, brave and determined when even your family was too afraid to believe in you. But I did get support from two of my closest friends (Mubtaseem who I previously mentioned and Adib Nur, the latter being a present student of BUET), which kept me fighting.
Lack of guidance and direction was a thing too. However, the seniors and resources from the Facebook Group Bangladeshis Beyond Borders were very helpful. Nowadays, there is a detailed playlist on YouTube by 10 Minute School, which teaches you everything there is to know about applications to US undergraduate studies.
What inspired you to take the initiative of 10 Minute School Global?
One of the best things you could do for your community is to catalyze a movement. By movement, I mean creating a bridge which connects creators and platforms to start a movement of creation. Look at Youtube or Instagram for an example. After a conversation with Ayman Bhai (the CEO of 10 Minute School), we realized that there were many young English writers in Bangladesh who needed a platform to write and many readers across the world who would want to read those writings with enthusiasm. And thus, 10 Minute School Global was born.
What upcoming plans do you have overall?
Just one, learn. Learn more about the world around me, learn about things that fascinate me, learn about our country’s future and more importantly, learn what I want to do and where I want to be a few years from now. I try to read a non-fiction book per week even during the semester just to learn about things that fascinate me. I try to speak with people from different fields just to get an idea of what their work looks like and whether that field is for me. There is a genuine form of happiness you could get from a feeling of progress and that’s why I value learning so much.
Would you like to say something to the youth of this country?
I hear this a lot when I come to Bangladesh for vacations, things like how this country can’t be saved and has no future. I completely understand why students like me might say that. As a nation, we have our problems and they are dire ones. It takes 2 hours to travel from Uttara to Shahabagh and talented people are not getting the jobs they deserve just to name a few. However, it is not nearly as bad as many believe and rather we are thriving. In recent years, Bangladesh’s GDP growth rate has been higher than most of its peer countries, it has been named a ‘tiger economy’, an honor only very promising developing countries get. It has been categorized as an emerging market by all top 5 market performance indexes. Our garments industry holds the 2nd highest market share in the garments export industry in the world and our capital markets are showing promises of rapid development. Foreign investments are pouring in recently and there are predictions of a boom in the consumer tech industry which can make us a developed country in no time. All we need is local innovators, policy-makers and investors to step up to create the country we deserve and dream of. Companies built now, policies made here and investment risks taken today will make or break that possibility. And whether we like it or not, most of that is on us, the youth of Bangladesh.