- In April 1999, I started the “RIT Alumni International Newsletter”.
- At the request of Saya U Soe Paing, U Khin Maung Zaw (KMZ, EC76) designed and implemented the first RIT web site : http://www.ex-rit.org. I served as the Content Provider and Editor.
- Saya Allen Htay and several alumni — Benny Tan (m70), Maurice Chee (M75) … — decided to support our noble task.
- At one of the meetings at Ko Benny’s house, the San Francisco Bay Area Alumni Group decided to establish “RIT Alumni International” with Saya Allen as President and Ko Maurice as Treasurer.
- At another meeting, Saya U Aung Khin (who was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area from Canada) gave the Go-ahead for planning the First RIT Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe.
- Since the sayas and alumni profess different religions, we chose the term “Saya Pu Zaw Pwe” over “Saya Ga Daw Pwe” (which has a religious connotation).
- The primary objective of the Saya Pu Zaw Pwe is to repay the metta and cetana of our mentors.
- It allows several core sponsors and organizers to safely participate in SPZP-2000.
- The First RIT Grand Reunion and SPZP (aka SPZP-2000) was held in San Francisco in October 2000.
- It was a two-day event.
- The main event was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel. There was a nominal fee to attend the Reunion Dinner and SPZP.
- The follow-up event was an optional Brunch Gathering (where the sayas and alumni can bring their families and friends).
- There were official and volunteer videographers and photographers.
- A three-hour VHS tape was offered for a nominal fee to interested sayas and alumni. A few years back, the VHS tape was converted into a two-set DVD.
Organizers and Sponsors
- The core volunteers were willing to hold the event at all costs.
- “U Nyo Win Act” said that the core volunteers will have to chip in if there are not enough paid attendees.
- Saya Allen Htay wrote an article, “Brother, can you afford US$500 and more?” for my Newsletter and the web site.
- A young alumni Sarina Tan (Htay Htay Than) relayed the news to U Thaung Sein (Steeve Kay, EC70). Steeve is a close friend of Sarina’s father. Steeve has also provided help while Sarina was pursuing her graduate studies.
- Steeve contacted Ko Benny and also sent checks for SPZP-2000.
- Ko Benny used Steeve’s seed money to design and order commemorative T-shirts, mugs and calendar clocks. Some mementos were offered to the attending sayas and the core volunteers. The rest were put on sale for “Fund Raising”.
- Ko Benny later visited Yangon to organize a mini-SPZP for the sayas and sayamas who could not attend SPZP-2000.
- Thanks in part to Saya Allen’s article, five Golden Sponsors and Donors — large and small — U Nyo Win’s Act was not enacted.
We thank the Golden Sponsors
- U Thaung Sein (Steeve Kay, EC70)
- Tan Yu Beng (Benny Tan, M70)
- U Tin Myint (David Ko, M67)
- U Khin Maung Oo (Ivan Lee, M69)
- U Maung Maung Than (M79)
and donors — large and small, young and old, near and far .
SPZP-2000 proved that the RIT Spirit was alive and well all over the world. SPZP-2000 defied the belief that RIT was a dying breed.
My poem “SAYA PUZAW PWE”
S eems like it was only yesterday
A t our alma mater in a land far away
Y ou taught us to work, play, laugh, even cry
A nd coaxed us, forced us to aim for the sky
P roblems in real life, lab, computation, survey
U nderstand concepts, design, display, …
Z eal, zest, ardor, grit, passion to make it “our day”
A rchitects, engineers, we’ve come here to say
W e honor your metta, your cetana — we fully can’t repay
P resently we meet, alum from five decades we greet
W ith memories true, fond, sweet
E cstatic yet sad that the GBNF could not join this memorable fete
- My poem was published in the commemorative issue of RIT Alumni International Newsletter and on the web site http://www.ex-rit.org
- The poem was reprinted on the back cover of the commemorative issue of Swel Daw Yeik Sar Saung for SPZP-2002 hosted by the Singapore alumni and chaired by Saya U Moe Aung )(Tekkatho Moe War).
- The poem has been reprinted in several RIT-related magazines.
Seven world wide SPZPs
- SPZP-2000 (California, USA)
- SPZP-2002 (Singapore)
- SPZP-2004 (Yangon)
- SPZP-2007 (Singapore)
- SPZP-2010 (Singapore)
- SPZP-2012 (Yangon) : first true Home Coming
- SPZP-2016 (Yangon) : hosted by RITAA; free food and entertainment
- Kudos to the sayas and colleagues for keeping the RIT spirit alive and well.
- We hope to meet again at SPZP-2020.
- Thanks to my wonderful family members for letting me spend 20 years as a volunteer Editor of “RIT Alumni International Newsletter”.
Categories: Poems and Translations