RIT Alumni International Newsletter (October 2000)
Original posting : 2000
Updated : June 14, 2019
Dear Sayas and Colleagues,
This newsletter will be brief, since I will simply refer to the “Count down to the Reunion” series that appear in the special “Reunion Pages” on this web site. Thanks to the Sayas, colleagues, and friends who directly or indirectly contributed to the 64 articles in that series.
The following is the first article in the new series “Post Reunion”. Feel free to contribute to this series as well.
Post Reunion (1)
“Successful Reunion” and “Homage to my father”
October 29, 2000
Dear Sayas and Colleagues,
At this time of writing, several alumni [including KMZ, our web master] and ex-faculty are on their way back to their homes after spending two (or three) wonderful days of their lives at the once-in-a-lifetime Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe.
After receiving the Distinguished Member Award, KMZ promised — in public — his grand plans: a preview of Version 2 of the RIT Alumni International web site, a special CD-ROM that will try to cover as comprehensively the Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe with the contributions by most if not all of the photographers (Richard Khoo [ChE75], U Khin Maung, … ), and video men (Dicky Choo, Ko Khin Maung Win [M75], ….).
Unlike the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, there was no singing and dancing to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” and “Aloha Oe”, but there was a striking resemblance when the “Reunion and SPZP” banner was lowered and then handed over to Ko Daniel Tint Lwin (M69), an Associate Professor at NTU in Singapore, who pledged to try his best to hold the next Reunion and SPZP in Singapore two years from now. According to Danny, there are 1000+ (mostly young) alums working and/or studying in Singapore. They had asked Danny to take videos for the 2-day official (3-day unofficial) event. They cannot wait a few weeks for the official video to be distributed by Ko Maurice Chee.
The following are random jottings about a dream come true.
Never before have I witnessed a gathering that surpassed all expectations. Despite the meticulous planning by the Organizing Committee, the Emcees (Master of ceremonies) — Ko Myat Htoo (C68) and Ko Thein Aung (Met72) — found it very hard to follow the schedule.
There was a spontaneous Saya Ga Daw Pwe where many old alums — some in their 60’s — took part. There was a “follow-the-leader” dance to complement and compliment the singing talents of Ko Daniel Tint Lwin (M69), Ma Myint Myint Sein (M70) and Ko Tan Yu Sein [guest and brother of Ko Benny Tan (a) Tan Yu Beng]. Saya Kris Krishna showed his hidden talent — playing “Peaceful Myanmar” (Aye Chan Thar De Myanmar Pye) on his harmonica.
Ko Benny brought the crowd down relating his futile attempts to get his grades readjusted by Saya Allen Htay, Saya U Aung Khin, Saya U Min Wun and Saya U Tin Htut. Saya Allen said that “Had I given you a 5 [equivalent to “A” in the US], you would likely be a Saya to this day. If I gave you a 4, you would probably be a government employee. But, my intuition told me that you would be a very successful enterpreneur, so I gave you a 3.” Saya U Aung Khin — being a taciturn — replied diplomatically that the “statuette of limitations had run out”. Saya U Min Wun gave Benny a lengthy lecture (a la “Surveying” class he taught three decades ago). Saya U Tin Htut would not entertain any discussion that does not involve stocks.
Although Asians are known for showing up late for weddings and ceremonies, throngs of alums showed up early at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Southern San Francisco, California. I was called in to verify attendees who told the reception desk volunteers that they had [genuinely] forgotten to bring their tickets. I saved the day for Ko Anthony Kyam (a) Ko Kyaw Win (a) Ko Joe Kyin and several other alums and sayas.
Every attendee got at least a commemorate mug, but a lot of smiles and memories. Several said that they would not mind even if dinner was not served. Saya U Myo Myint Sein’s friend — a world renowned architect — told Saya that he would trade all his gold medals and prizes to be honored in a SPZP tradition. Saya U Aung Khin gave a synopsis of his post-retirement sojourn round the world. [For details, see the “RIT Alumni International Newsletter Special Issue.”] Saya U Min Wun — the last but not the least (and an eloquent) invited speaker — reminded that without true “cetana”, even Internet and the modern technologies are not sufficient to hold the Grand Reunion and SPZP. Saya U Khin Aung Kyi clasped his hands and verbally (and physically) paid respect to his two Sayas — Sayagyi U Ba Toke (Maths) and Sayagyi U Num Kok (Civil). Sayagyi U Ba Toke, on behalf of all the Sayas, prayed that we should all be “wealthy” spiritually and be “healthy” physically — the two mottos/guidelines he had treasured all his life. Saya U Aung Gyi’s key note speech touched lessons of the past, the importance of the present, and well-laid plans for the future.
On Friday, 27th October, there was an informal get-together at an all you can eat Japanese, Korean and Chinese buffet in San Bruno, California. 40+ attendees including two of our Golden Sponsors: Steeve Kay (a) Ko Thaung Sein (EC 70) and Ko Benny Tan (Mech 70) were present. Both are successful enterpreneurs and CEOs, but they took their precious time off to support RIT Alumni International and its activities.
Usually Steeve does not surf the web. When Sarina Tan (EC 93), who helps Steeve part-time while pursuing her postgrad degree, informed him about the RIT Reunion and SPZP in general and my “Count down to the Reunion” articles in particular, Steeve sent in a check of $1000 for the Saya Pu Zaw Pwe Fund. He later sent in another check of $2000 to cover the costs of printing RIT Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe T-shirts that were designed by Ko Benny. At the Reunion and SPZP dinner [on Saturday, 28th October 2000], all Sayas and Sayamas — young and old — were given the memorabilia T-shirts and the wall clocks (designed and donated by Ko Benny). At the get-together picnic [on Sunday, 29th October, 2000], the remaining T-shirts were put on sale. They were sold out in no time. The Sayas and alums proudly sported the T-shirts.
Steeve told me that he liked the explicit as well as the sublimal messages — “If one person can dream, others can make the dream come true”, “Face adversity”, “Be kind to your parents and sayas”, — that were present in my e-mail articles/updates. He said that at the end of three days, he is reliving sweet memories of his days at RIT.
Ko Tun Aung (a) Jeffrey (EC 68) brought unannounced commemorative pens. Now a Director of Engineering in Los Angeles — and probably one of the highest ranking government employee in Southern California and may be elsewhere in the US — Ko Tun Aung showed his appreciation of RIT Alumni International in general and Reunion and SPZP in particular but his deeds and not words. Ko Tun Aung is a past President of BASES, the BAPS counterpart in Southern California. The Reunion and SPZP owe in part to the existence and activities of BAPS and BASES (which was co-founded by Saya U Tin Htut, U Tin Htway, and U Tun Tin (David)).
Ko Maurice Chee (M75), co-chair of the Working Committee along with Ko Benny, thanked the spouses and family members. Without their support, who in the world would bet that a world-wide event can be planned and executed within four months. Thanks to our better halves who tolerated long meetings [which often had schedule conflicts with other social events such as offerings at monasteries], and a quick “I love you, honey, but I need to read the latest update about the Reunion and SPZP”.
Sayagadaw Pam Lee (spouse of Saya Chris Lee) — gave me several home grown fruits and an impromptu Gardening 101. “You need TLC [Tender Loving Care} to the trees and plants. You might have to use 50 lb fertilizers two or three times a year.” They also plan to host a future BASES dinner which can be attended by the Northern alums as well.
Nearly all of the alums and some of their spouses said that we had done a great job. Some said that they feel 30 years younger. They requested me to relax for a while, but to keep on writing. Which is why I’m starting a new series “Post Reunion”.
Relieved and overjoyed after being part of a team that gave 200%, I would second what Saya U Myo Myint Sein’s colleague said. From my KG days, I had won numerous prizes and awards, but the recognition from my Sayas, my fellow alums, their spouses and their families is far more precious that all those.
My only regret concerns my multi-talented father, an alum of “Lay-ne-ban University” (or “Lan-ne-bay” University — the University of Life).
. According to the leading medical doctors of his day, he was given three months to live — at the tender age of 14 or 15 — but a Burmese say-sa-yar gave him a new life and even imparted his knowledge. Though he defied death for nearly seven more decades, he did not live long enough to see his son strive over one and half years not for a degree exam, not for monetary awards, but solely to show that he can follow the footsteps of his father.
Without formal training in Civil Engineering and Architecture, he built pagodas [including the “Dat Poung Zone Aung Min Gaung” pagoda], renovated old pagodas and designed and built houses for himself and his brothers. He was known for his culinary skills and for organizing “Sa-tu-di-tha” [often at Tabaung festivals of the Great Shwedagon pagoda]. Like Ko Benny and Ko Maurice, he had a passion for tools. He told me bed time stories. He taught me astrology, numerology, …, but most of all he loved and honored all his sayas — thin saya, myin saya, kyar saya. His sayas loved him and his children. One of his sayas gave me a special chessboard (and leaded wooden chess pieces) that he had kept as a treasure for years.
Dear father, where ever you are [although I believe that you would be in one of the good abodes in samsara], I’m thankful for for being my first saya. You brought smiles to countless people. Thanks for passing on that gift to me.