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Knowledge vs Wisdom

An Introduction to Ashik Rahman, WBFN Communication Program Coordinator

Ashik took the position of Communication Program Coordinator at the WBFN in November 2018. His responsibilities include communication and marketing planning and social media content. In addition to a background in communication and marketing, analytics and business, Ashik brings a special sensibility and thoughtfulness to his work, qualities which were enhanced by his experiences relocating to Washington DC.

“We were rushed…”

When Ashik’s wife accepted an assignment at the WBG, the family had exactly one month to leave their jobs, let go of their apartment and most of their belongings in Dhaka, Bangladesh, say goodbye to their families, and get themselves and their almost three-year-old daughter to Washington DC. In DC, they had ten days to decide on a neighborhood and find rented accommodation. They discovered that there are rental scams. They discovered sub-zero winter. Very importantly, they needed to learn to live on their own without any extended family support.

“To be honest, the WBFN…”

During the settling in period, Ashik paid little attention to the WBFN. He had a vague perception that it was orientated towards women, which discouraged him from looking into how it might help him and his family. Besides, he was the full-time caregiver to his daughter and had enrolled in an MBA program. They had a second child and bought a house.

As he was finishing his studies, Ashik turned his attention to his work permit situation. No one he consulted seemed to know about G-4s; it wasn’t something you could even Google. When an email arrived from the WBFN announcing a seminar on G-4 work authorization, he decided to attend. This first introduction to the WBFN was a turning point.

“Why didn’t I come before?”

After a very useful seminar on work permits for G-4s, Ashik attended a seminar on taxation, and then one on naturalization for children on G-4 visas. He also signed up for the Career Lab so he could better understand how to position himself for the US job market. It was Yvonne Quahe, who runs the Career Lab, who suggested that he look into volunteering for the WBFN.

“Where can I help?”

Ashik began to volunteer with the social media and marketing teams, which were his areas of expertise. He figured that if he had the resources and the time to do this, then why not help out? There was something about contributing that felt natural to Ashik, whether he was being paid or not. It also gave him the flexibility to parent.

“Connecting with my kids.”

Something new which entered Ashik’s life when he relocated was that he became his daughter’s principal caregiver. In Dhaka, his daughter had spent the weekdays with her grandparents while he and wife worked. In DC, it was Ashik who became the caregiver. Sharing the daytime with his daughter, he discovered that there was so much more to know about her. The business of dressing her, feeding her, playing with her, and just being with her while she grew and developed led to an intimacy that was enormously enriching and fulfilling for him. He saw that while fathers try to spend time with their kids by organizing activities when they can, it is the long periods of just being together, without any particular agenda, that can really count towards the relationship. When their second daughter was born, he was able to build the same intimacy with her.

In November, the WBFN offered Ashik the job of communication program coordinator, which comes with a stipend.

“Working with volunteers is different!”

Until he came to DC, Ashik had always worked in the private sector, with its formal hierarchies and strict expectations. Working uniquely with volunteers at the WBFN is a completely new experience. He notes they are passionate and committed, giving their time and expecting nothing in return. He is humbled by their selfless contribution, but he also understands they may have other priorities in their lives. Ashik would like improve the way tasks shift between his volunteers, to reduce the loss of momentum that can occur when one volunteer is not available for a stretch of time. Resource allocation is another challenge. Who will attend the multiple and often simultaneous events in order to take videos and provide posts for Facebook or LinkedIn? Another challenge is to find volunteers with specialized skills – such as video editing, animation, and graphic design, all of which are needed in communications.

“We need to think beyond DC.”

An area that Ashik wants to know more about is the worldwide community. He is hoping to get a better understanding of how the chapters (which represent the members in country office locations) are run, as well as get more international content on the social media platforms. For this he will need worldwide volunteers. Equally, he hopes to bring some of the WBFN HQ flavor to the worldwide members. For Ashik, it is important to not assume the audience is DC-based.

“Knowledge vs wisdom.”

At the center of Ashik’s communication strategy is understanding the WBFN community better. Who are they, and what do they need? What are the demographics, and how are they evolving? To do this, he will be using user data (analytics) from Facebook, LinkedIn and the WBFN website. Analytics can reveal information about numbers of followers and fans on these platforms, the popularity of individual posts, usage patterns, demographics (e.g. how many users are men) and which countries people are viewing the posts and pages from.

Complementing analytics are outreach and engagement, which are also important mediums for Ashik. This means communication through old fashioned, face-to-face conversation, and promoting activities which bring us together, like the Children’s Holiday Party. What he learns from this approach, he calls wisdom.

Ashik emphasizes that the knowledge derived from the analytics data is not enough without the perspective of wisdom derived from actual interactions. After all, he says, we are much, much more than our digital selves!