My Fond Memory of the Reunion Dinner & Saya Pu Zaw Pwe
by Saya U Htin Paw (EE58)
Original posting : 2000
Updated : June 14, 2109
The Reunion of ex-RIT graduates and Associates on October 28, 2000 is in everyone eye’s a success at the premier level. It would have been a mission impossible for me to organize a reunion meeting like this in the early eighties. The success of RIT Alumni International was due mainly to engineers who contributed their hard work in the most unselfish way: nobody in the organizing committee cared about who gets the credit for the event’s success. To put the entire success in the right perspective, I can attribute the success to the three pillars on which it stands on:
1. The prosperity achieved by Burmese engineers in the early ninety eighties and nineties
2. The unselfish diligent and hard work from the volunteers and the members of the organizing committee
3. The ease and convenience of communication in the new millennium
In the late ninety sixties when I first landed in this new world, we have very few RIT Alumni who have left their homeland to make their right livelihood (samma-ajiva) in the new world. Most emigrants from Burma left with their Certificate of Identity. Very few numbers hold the Burmese Passport. We have no relatives here to guide us nor do we have the opportunity to tailor and write our resume for employment. Even though some have had US education, lack of work experience in the US was a factor in getting compatible engineering positions. The second drawback we faced was we left Burma flying the Pan Am plane with fare paid for on credit basis. Some friends had to advance the plane fare to enable us to leave Mingaladon Airport. Most Burmese families had to start with a couple of thousand dollars credit hung on their neck to begin their livelihood here. A lot of us tend to look for job opportunities in the civil service arena for stability and security. Most of us started at entry level at around $750 per month for graduate engineer in civil service. It was no rare occurrence to witness some of us having to change to a second career as a restaurant owner from a successful Architectural career in Rangoon. Living under this environment, with not much money to throw around for extra curriculum activities, to organize the kind of Reunion event then was unimaginable.
Things changed gradually after a few years, with hard work and the diligent endowed in each and every one of the first wave of immigrants things have changed. There were new opportunities in the engineering employment to build power plants, industrial and refinery plants that required a large number of engineering job opportunities. From the early eighties people brought in relatives, the second wave of immigrants from Burma. We built up strength from unity and the community spirit grew. The economic growth brought forth the abundance to do charities in the Burmese communities all across the United States. From one single Taungpulu monastery in Boulder Creek we saw almost two to three monasteries in one city to serve the Burmese communities. The baby boomers who came in as babies in the early seventies have grown up to serve the communities as professionals: engineers, doctors, lawyers and some entrepreneurs. In the group of engineers at the reunion we can find a good number of millionaires working to become multi-millionaires. Some us even owned their own companies employing twenty or thirty ex-RIT engineers. Time has changed from Rag to Riches. We can now afford to enjoy life from our hard earned investment. We no longer have to calculate in the back of mind the currency exchange rate on whatever we touch to buy for our daily staples. It reminded me of an instance when we took a new comer to a Bush-Garden on one weekend. The entrance fees was three dollars per person and when we continued on to another Universal Studio, he said that he would rather sit at the entrance and wait for us than spend another $3.00 on entrance fee. That was then, and this is now: US $50.00 per head to a reunion party would be an insurmountable hurdle for a new comer. Still we saw a few new comers at the event, because their resident relatives were rich enough to give them tickets [as gifts] to attend the event.
We even have ex-RIT graduates who were benevolent enough to sponsor a few of their Sayas from outside the US to attend the event. The enabling factor here is the economic wealth of our fellow graduates. So the Rags were then and the Wealth is now: things have changed.
Most of us have inherited our Buddhist heritage: take for instance Mr. Maurice Chee’s e-mail address: alluding his belief on the “Triple-Gems” the Buddhist three jewels: Buddha, Dhamma and Samgha. Believing in Metta (loving kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (sympathetic joy), Upekkha (balanced mind). These are the kind of people who run the Reunion operation: no one seeks fame and fortune and let alone grapping credit for the success. In my several dealings with them, like Maurice, Ko Hla Min and K.M. Zaw are all alike: they would always end their e-mail with “With Metta”. The word Metta after all is not a small unit of measurement its true meaning can only be described in combination of two words in English – “Loving Kindness” — and is a very Pure thought. With such people running the show success is boundless. The web page: < http://www.ex-rit.org/rit.asp > is indeed the guiding beacon of Success for the Reunion. K.M.Zaw and Ko Hla Min should each be proud of this success.
One deterrent or restraint in organizing people from far places is communication. In the early seventies and early eighties, you give up before you start to write because the process of communication takes so much hassle: you write, you print, you paste the stamp, you mail the envelope and wait for confirmation after a week. That was then. In the current setting, you e-mail the letter and if willing, you get the answer in an instant. Some of us are more or less holding the mouse five to six hours a day and the e-mail call out “You’ve got mail”. This is now. The ease of communication is indeed a great help, thanks for the help that brought the great success to our reunion. I would like to thank Saya U Aung Khin who gave the go-ahead signal of convening a reunion in the Bay Area and also brought in all the big celebrities like Sayagyi U Ba Toke, Sayagyi U Aung Gyi, and Sayagyi U Khin Aung Kyi. Their support and their attendance had made a big difference and greater success. Last but not the least, the credit goes to the organizing committee members for their inexhaustible hard work and Metta to their Sayas and their fellow graduates. I wish each and every one of our Sayas named in here “Saya Pu Zaw Pwe” should contribute an article to express their appreciation. My good wishes also goes to the Organizing Leadership of the coming event in 2002 in Singapore. Regards and Metta, Sabbe Satta Bhavantu Sukhitatha ! ! !
May All be Well and Happy.
We believe in celebrating life and paying back to to benefactors for their metta and cetana while they are alive.
Kudos to all the sayas and alumni for keeping the RIT spirit alive.