When a student or a professional comes to North America from Bangladesh for higher studies, a lot of excitement offered by this new landscape and society. At the same time, leaving behind friends, family and motherland creates a vacuum and the student/professional started to long for a comfort zone that replicates their home feeling as well as paves the way for the realization of their dream in this dreamland. Students and professionals have been coming from distant land and different cultural domain in North America from centuries to flourish their ideas in this land of immigrants. These students and professionals make their networks under various names to assist one another and breath comfortably during physical gatherings or virtual interactions. Recently, the number of Bangladeshi students pursuing higher educations in North America as well as students having their higher educations in Asia or Europe then moving into North America has increased significantly. There are many Bangladeshi professional organizations based on the studied subjects or professional similarities, however, for the students/professionals of chemistry and related fields such an organization was not available. Therefore, an effort has been made to organize Bangladeshi students and professionals in a platform named as Bangladesh Chemical And Biochemical Association in North America (BACABANA).
In 2009, a group of five students joined in Chemistry and Biochemistry Department as graduate students at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), where there were three more Bangladeshi students pursuing their higher studies, overall, a considerable number of students in a single department in a US university. In next few years, fifteen more students from Bangladesh joined the chemistry and biochemistry program at UWM, while three others at Marquette University. The influx of graduate students at UWM was facilitated by a generous and amicable professor Dr. Mahmun Hossain working at that very department. In Milwaukee, there is a small friendly Bangladeshi community that offers various programs replicating the Bangladeshi important events here in USA. Apart from that, the graduate students of UWM and Marquette University (MU), frequently got together in one of the students’ house at a time, where Dr. Hossain and Farida Hossain were always vital, and indulge with foods and engaged in conversation in various topics. One day in March 2016, Abdul Momen, in one of the students gathering at Rezaul Karim and Afsana Mahim’s house, resurfaced the importance of a professional organization for the chemical and biochemical professionals. The conversation of the organization was resonated well among the participants of the gathering. All agreed on the necessity of the organization and decided to take an initiative to build the organization. This renewed initiative has also been benefited by background, where a group of graduate students in a casual gathering at Milwood parking lot, Milwaukee, in a summer day in 2014, talked about a chemists’ organization in USA. After that initial conversation, Zubair Ahmed posted a video on DU chemist Facebook page describing the necessity of the organization.
In April 2016, first meeting was called in Colectivo, a very popular coffee shop among the Bangladeshi students by the Bradford beach of lake Michigan, where 14 graduate students of UWM and MU were present. An ad hoc committee was formed, nominating Abdul Momen as convener and Dr. Hossain as advisor, with great enthusiasm that marked the unofficial conception of the organization. Later in April, after a rigorous debate among the participants, an official name, Bangladesh Chemical and Biochemical Association in North America (BACABANA), was adopted for the organization. BACABANA nominated Zubair Ahmed as treasurer and started to collect its membership fee (students $50 and postdocs and professionals $100) in May 2016. Most of the students in Milwaukee and others associated with the organization became first ever members of BACABANA.
14 August, 2016 was a big day for BACABANA, more than 40 chemists and biochemists from 7 different states attended 1st BACABANA picnic and meeting in Lake park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Rezaul Karim and Mahabbat Ali, two of the core members of BACABANA, took key role to organize this event. After that annual meeting, BACABANA established its presence outside Wisconsin and started to spread the word across North America. BACABANA made its first social media, Facebook, appearance on 14 August 2016, and started to connect all possible ‘member-to-be’ into the Facebook group.
As the organization was getting its footings to be a successful one, many other things were necessary to reshape into more formal structure. Steps were taken toward that, such as, all the members of BACABANA were considered as central committee members and a five-member executive committee was elected by the members of the central committee. It was the first election for BACABANA, and it was a different kind and interesting. Everyone was agreed upon that all the members present in the meeting would be considered as candidate and then everyone would mandatorily vote for five of them, the highest counted 5 would be elected. Abdul Momen, Rezaul Karim, Mahabbat Ali, Toufiqe Rahman and Zubair Ahmed were elected as the members of the executive committee. The assignment of the portfolios was as follows: President: Abdul Momen; Secretary: Rezaul Karim; Office Secretary: Toufiqur Rahman; Treasurer: Zubair Ahmed and Member: Mahabbat Ali. Just after the election of the executive committee members, the organization started to expand its activities officially outside Wisconsin and opened state chapters in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia. The executive committee has been teleconferencing regularly with the state representatives to enhance and facilitate the building process of the state chapters.
It is known to everyone that any organization needs a constitution by which the organization will conduct its activities. It was a challenging work to do. To draft the constitution, the executive committee started to meet in the weekends at City Market, a restaurant in Shorewood, Milwaukee, and worked hard for 3 months to prepare a preliminary constitution for BACABANA. During that time, the executive committee members followed the constitution of similar organizations as guideline such as American Chemical Society and others and debated heavily for some of the articles of the constitution. After the preliminary draft, the constitution was placed in front of the members in the general meetings for the open discussion. Upon extensive debate, a lot of suggestions came from the members and advisor Dr. Hossain which was incorporated into the constitution and approved by the members of the central committee of BACABANA.