Source: The Diamondback ( University of Maryland Student Newspaper)
By Fatimah Waseem/The Diamondback
When senior bioengineering major Nahid Sultana came from Bangladesh to the United States, she was a 1-month-old baby.
For her parents, the journey meant a better education. But for Sultana, the journey meant leaving behind not only a country, but also a culture integral to her background.
Bangladesh’s official language, Bangla, became her mother’s tongue, not her mother tongue, just as it did for many second-generation youth.
Now, as thousands in Bangladesh celebrate Ekushey February — a day to commemorate the struggles of preserving the Bengali language — the struggle to preserve Bangla more than 1,000 miles away from home in neighboring Pakistan has never been more real.
Ekushey February — observed by the U.N. as International Mother Language Day every year since February 2000 — promotes linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It rewinds to Feb. 21, 1952 when Bangla-speaking students demonstrating for recognition of their language as one of the two national languages of Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.