Oral and Written History

Updated on March 11, 2019

Three 90+ year young Sayas

There were three Sayas who were 90+ year old.

Saya U Soe Khaw (Mining) taught part-time in Mining in the early days at BOC College. He was Head of the Department. Saya U Soon Sein succeeded him as full-time saya and Head of the Department. He worked for the Ministry of Mining before heading out for overseas assignment. After retirement from the United Nations, he migrated to the USA. He was actively involved in selected monasteries in the San Francisco Bay Area. Saya Allen Htay (C58, GBNF), Saya Dr. San Lin (C62) and I had a Lunch gathering with Saya U Soe Khaw. The gathering ended near to a Dinner gathering. The three sayas shared their memories. Saya was healthy physically and mentally before his beloved spouse’s demise. A few years later, Saya passed away. Saya is a cousin of Dr. Htut Saing (Harry, Past Captain and Gold of RUBC, GBNF).

Saya H Num Kok (Civil) taught Engineering Drawing to Saya Dr. Aung Gyi and Saya U Min Wun. He taught Soil Mechanics to the younger Sayas. He served as President of the RIT Track and Field Association with U Khin Maung Lay (Henry, T68) as Secretary and U Myo Nyunt (C69) as Joint Secretary. He served as Line Judge at the RUBC Regattas along with Saya U Sein Win (GBNF) and Saya Dr. San Hla Aung. Saya was loved by his former students. They showed up at the Welcome Party in Yangon for Saya a few years ago. Saya took home the banner of the event to his home in Portland, Oregon, USA. Saya worked full-time until he turned 80. Saya was reasonably healthy in his early 90s. Saya passed away at the tender age of 98.

Saya U Ba Toke is a Phwa Bet Taw of the University of Rangoon and the First RU Students’ Strike in December 1920. Saya’s life journey had been recorded and published by his former student Saya Dr. Khin Maung Swe (Maung Thin Char) with the help of Sayama Daw Myint Myint Khine (daughter of Arzani Mahn Ba Khine). During my visits to Yangon, I paid respect to Saya. He gave me autographed copy of the book. Saya was an athlete. He played soccer in his younger days. He headed the Burmese team to Olympics. He used to walk every weekend with his younger Dhamma friends to Shwe Dagon Pagoda. At the subsequent visits, I found the decline of Saya’s health but not his mental acumen. Hope Saya will stay healthy to celebrate the Centennial of his birth and Rangoon University.

Several of our sayas are near 80 or over 80. While they still have high energy and keen memory, we need VOLUNTEERS to either formally interview them or to record the conversations. They can become the artifacts of the ORAL HISTORY section of an engineering library (preferably the YTU Library).

80+ year young Sayas

Saya U Ba Than celebrated his 88th birthday in October, 2018. His elder brother Saya U Tin U celebrated his 89th birthday in August, 2018. Some thought that their longevity is due to their genes. Their father passed away in his 50s after raising successful sons and daughters.

Saya U Ba Than knows most of his former students well. Several students have seen Saya’s photo albums. Many photos were given to MES for display and to HMEE-2012 (History of University Engineering Education in Burma/Myanmar) for display in the book and the supplemental CD. Saya is a proud sponsor of the History project along with Saya U Soe Paing and Saya U Thaw Kaung (former Chief Librarian of the Rangoon University Central Library).

Saya U Tin U provided an interview for HMEE-2012 Project. When the Rangoon University reopened in 1946 (after the war), he attended RU along with Dr. Pe Nyun, Dr. Pe Thein and Saya U Sein Hlaing. Most of his former classmates are GBNF. He is Past Captain and Gold of RUBC. He represented RUBC in the 1948 Independence Day Regatta at Kandawgyi along with Dr. Pe Nyun and Dr. Pe Thein. He is Past Captain of Rangoon Golf Club. He played golf until his early 80s. He still enjoys the evenings sitting in the lawn and enjoying Scotch Whiskey.

Saya Dr. Aung Gyi is currently in Yangon. The main event is the All Civil Gathering. Saya U Min Wun is healthy, but he has to take care of his ailing spouse.

Saya Dr. Aung Gyi, Saya U Min Wun and Saya U Maung Maung Than from the initial group of Engineering students sent to study at the prestigious Universities in the USA under the “Twinning Program”. Saya is GBNF. He served as Chair of the RIT Sports Council during our days. He played Chinlon. He is also a musician.

Saya U Khin Aung Kyi has some memory loss.

For the HMEE-2012 Project, we requested the former Heads of the Engineering Departments to write about the history of their departments.

There is the HMEE-2018 Project to revise the book published by HMEE-2012 and to provide additional material for the planned two-volume book.

Sense of urgency

Several of our sayas have passed away and some sayas have declining physical and mental heath. We sense that the window for having a comprehensive Written History and Oral History is shrinking. There is still some time to learn from our sayas and their contemporary Senior Engineers about the different facets of University Engineering Education in Burma/Myanmar. Their stories can become gems for the Archives.

MEC, MES and RIT Alumni Association can help with the project.

Written History

Several sayas wrote articles and/or notes for

  • “RIT Alumni International Newsletter” and updates
  • Commemorative issues of Swel Daw Yeik Sar Sarsaung for SPZP-2002, SPZP-2007 and SPZP-2010
  • Commemorative issues of Swel Daw Yei Magazine for SPZP-2012 and SPZP-2016
  • RIT Annual Magazines
  • RUESU Annual Magazines
  • Departmental Magazines (Mechanical, Electrical …)
  • Set Hmu Thadinzin
  • Trivia posts
  • Blogs by Sayas and Alumni

The articles can become artifacts of the Written History section of an engineering library (preferably the YTU Library).

YTU Library

The YTU Library Modernization Project was conducted with the help of donors — large and small.

U Wynn Htain Oo and Daw/Nan Khin Nwe have reported the donations in Facebook Pages (RIT Updates, NorCal RIT Alumni Association, Swel Daw Yeik Foundation) and their walls.

Dr. Win Zaw, Head of the YTU IT Department, has agreed in principle to support the Written and Oral History Project. Scholarship holders will help Dr. Win Zaw.

We hope to see a History/Archives department which covers

  • Oral History
  • Written History
  • Media (CDs, CVDs, DVDs, …)
  • Database
  • ..

We hope that sayas and alumni will find an era or a topic or an album that they cherish and contribute their memories.

Together we can do it starting with baby steps.

Categories: Notes

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