Class reunions and “Home coming” celebrations take place at the alma mater, but for almost four decades large-scale Acariya Puzaw Pwes, Saya Ga Dawt Pwes, and Saya Pu Zaw Pwes (which allow non-Buddhist alums to sponsor and participate) were absent at the BIT/RIT/YIT/YTU campus in Gyogone. But, the RIT spirit was alive and well, and with the help of Internet in part, but mostly with the desire and dedication to repay the metta and cetana of the mentors (spread around the globe), SPZP-2000 was organized (within a span of four months) with some caution.
Saya Allen Htay’s article, “Brother, can you spare US 500 dollars?” and the 64 articles “Countdown to the Reunion” describe the humble but noble beginnings of the world-wide SPZPs.
Ko Thaung Sein (Steeve Kay, EC 70), Ko Benny Tan (Tan Yu Beng, M 70), Ko Tin Myint (David Ko, M 67), Ko Khin Maung Oo (Ivan Lee, M 69), Ko Maung Maung Than (M79), and the countless sponsors — large and small — volunteers, well-wishers, and supporters sowed the seeds of world-wide SPZPs.
SPZP-2002, SPZP-2007, and SPZP-2012 hosted by the Singapore alums were grander with a huge turn out at the main events, publication of the commemorative SWEL DAW YEIK SAR SAUNGS by Saya U Moe Aung and his teams, first-rate entertainment by the famous SWEL DAW YEIK AH NYEINT and the young-at-heart (“never grow old”) singers and dancers
SPZP-2004 was held in Yangon, but not at the Gyogone campus. The Tsuanami-related tremors did not deter the sayas and alums from attending SPZP-2004.
When alums learned that SPZP-2012 will be held at their alma mater (which had been largely neglected and turned into dilapidated building with bushes around), tears of joy fell.
When alums learned that the Stage-3 cancer survivor “Seik Kyi” (Cartoon Myint Pe) and his fellow cartoonists will revive the Cartoon Box, and also publish a collection of “RIT cartoons” (at a modest price of K1500), they was laughter and echoes of “walking down memory lane”).
When alums learned that the multiple ICU visitor Ko Saw Linn would head not only the main preparation committee of SPZP-2012, but also publish the 300+ page commemorative SWEL DAW YEIK MAGAZINE,reprint limited copies of the 20 or so vintage RIT Annual magazines, their spirits became high.
When alums learned that Sayagyi U Ba Than, Saya U Soe Paing, Saya U Aung Hla Tun, … would take the first (not so small but important) step to compile the “History of University Engineering Education in Burma/Myanmar”, importance and uniqueness of SPZP-2012 became self-evident.
December 30, 2012 saw several Union ministers and deputy ministers sitting alongside the alums and paying respect to the sayas and sayamas for their “Arcariya” virtues (irrespective of their age and experience). That day saw sayas, sayamas, and alums endure the [ever hotter] sun to bask in the glory and memories of the hey days. That day saw the re-emergence of RIT glory and the close bond of alums spanning five or more decades.
SPZP-2012 will have its successors, and the torch will be carried on by the young alums, but it will go down in engineering history as one of the historic and memorable events (which many had feared would not see in their life time).
Thanks to the unsung heroes for carrying on the noble tradition.