Article

Hla Min’s Writings (5)

Update : July 19, 2020

  • History and Historians
    According to a historian from Smithsonian Institution, “There is no single history. There are parallel (often competing) histories. “
    I volunteered as a Docent for Computer History Museum (CHM) in Moutain View, California.
    I was a member of the HMEE-2012 (History of Myanmar Engineering Education) project. Ko Ohn Khine (M70) and I compiled the CD supplement for the HMEE-2012 book.
  • Journey
    I am continuing on my journey as a Life Long Learner, freelance writer, translator and editor.
  • Colleges
    Those senior to us attended Yankin and Hteedan Colleges.
    Leik Khone held engineering classes before the Faculty moved to Gyogone Campus in 1961.
    In 1962 and 1963, Leik Khone held I.Sc. classes.
    In 1964, Leik Khone started offering 1st MB classes.
  • Volunteer Service
    I have served as a volunteer for five decades.
    I founded “RIT Alumni International Newsletter” in 1999 and served as its Chief Editor for 21+ years.
    I have paid back to UCC and RIT as a messenger and organizer.
  • My Toastmasters Journey
    I joined District 4 of Toastmasters International.
    When District 4 became too big, it was reorganized into two smaller Districts.
    I became a member of District 101.
    I completed DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) under the Old System.

History and Historians

Mr. Robert Hole

Mr. Robert Hole was the English Editor for RUESU (Rangoon University Engineering Students Union) Annual Magazine. He is the father of Sayama Daw Gilmore Hole (UCC) and uncle of U Percy Maung Maung (classmate of Saya U Soe Paing at St. Paul’s High School and Stanford University).

Saya asked Mr. Robert to write for the “History of University Engineering Education in Burma/Myanmar”. Mr. Robert asked three weeks.

Said to say, Mr. Robert did not complete his assignment.

During my visit to Yangon, Gilmore invited UCC alumni to a mini-gathering at her house. We learned from Gilmore that her father had “memory retention problem”.

That is one reason I am sharing my memories before my memory declines.

History

History is appreciated in some countries. In the USA, there are many museums (with Docents) and historical societies (with Historians).

I volunteered as a Docent at the Computer History Museum (CHM) for a couple of years. I learned that CHM has an “Oral History” Project to record interviews of pioneers, researchers, and notable people. CHM also had live presentations: individuals and/or panels (with a moderator).

We understand that there are pressing issues (e.g. rebuilding the alma mater and our beloved motherland to their former glory), but we also need to have historical facts compiled (in writing or in interviews) and preserved.

Journey

A 1000+ mile journey starts with a simple first step. The journey to a printed book or an e-book started with my first Trivia post.

I did not start writing Chronicles or compiling a Knowledge base. I did not have an outline. I was just trying to please my beloved spouse, selected sayas and friends that I would put down my stories (that I heard or learned from Thin Sayas, Myin Sayas and Kyar Sayars) into writing. If the stories can enrich someone’s life, that will be a bonus.

If one has time and energy there are tons of information in the world, but one must be aware that they may be misinformation and materials that not subject to review and proof reading. Thanks to my reviewers, I have managed to keep the typos, inconsistencies and errors quite low. I also learn something new with each comment.

Some friends who are experts or advanced practitioners in astrology said, “You can never really retire. You have a conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Saturn in one Yathi (Rasi) and they are conjunction with Sun in the Tenth House. You will have the benefits as well as disadvantages of those planets. For example, you can never have an easy life and you will be a server of many people. Be careful of your health. If you stay healthy, you will feel pride and happiness to see your work get appreciated.”

The journey will continue as long as I have a reasonably good memory and health.

Colleges

In the early days, a university is often a collection of colleges.

Yankin and Hteedan

In the mid and late 50’s, the Yankin College and the Hteedan College served the First Year Intermediate classes.

The Pure Science, Engineering and Medical students attended Yankin College.

The Arts and Social Science students attended Hteedan College.

BOC College and Main Campus

After completing the I.Sc. classes, the engineering students attended BOC College for their main subjects and took some courses (e.g. Mathematics) at the Main Campus.

Later, the engineering students attended Leik Khone (Dome) and its extensions for their main subjects and spent some time (e.g. workshop) at BOC College.

Leik Khone

Saya U Tin Htut (M60) and U Tin Htoon (A60) were the last batch of Engineering students to attend classes at Leik Khone.

In mid-1963, we attended I.Sc.(A) classes at Leik Khone. Those aspiring to become medical doctors take the “A” option. Those aspiring to become engineers and scientists take the “B” option.

Our teachers for our I.Sc.(A) classes included

  • Daw Tinsa Maw-Naing (English) — mother of Kinsa Maw-Naing
  • Daw Khin Kyi Kyi (English)
  • Daw Po (Burmese) — sayama at the 1965 Inlay Lu YeChun Camp, retired as Professor of Burmese
  • U Khin Zaw (Mathematics) — later headed Maths Department at Worker’s College
  • Mr. Chowdry (Mathematics)
  • Daw Khin Ma Ma (Mathematics) — Sayama and her spouse U Soe Nyunt taught Mathematics at DSA
  • U Min Than Thaung (Physics) — RUBC Gold, retired as Rector of Long Distance Learning
  • Daw Khin Khin Su (Physics)
  • Daw Khin Khin Aye (Chemistry)

Gyogone Campus

Grapevine says that Russia’s “gift” for the Gyogone Campus was compensated in part by rice, since Burma was then known as the “Rice Bowl of Asia“.

Russia provided visiting Lecturers. Some Russian sayas speak reasonably good English. Others (e.g. teaching courses in the Agri sub-department of Mechanical Engineering) need interpreters to conduct their courses. Saya U Tin Maung Nyunt (M60) visited Sayagyi U Ba Than after returning from his post-graduate studies in the US. Saya was waiting to join Yezin College. Sayagyi asked Saya if he would like to join the Agri sub-department. The Agri students were happy with the teaching and practice of Saya U Tin Maung Nyunt. Saya also served as President of RIT Thaing Club.

Most Russian sayas were good chess players. They helped Ko Aung Than and Ko Maung Maung to form the RIT Chess Club. They conducted Lightning Chess tournaments.

Mr. Lazarov  rowed as Timing Stroke for the RIT Eights team, which won the Inter-Institute Eights Trophy. The team consisted of L. Than Myint, U Ohn Hlaing (Elmo, GBNF), U Kyaw Lwin (George, GBNF), U Thaung Lwin, U Myo Myint, U Than Htut, U Htain Linn and U Tin Aung (Victor, GBNF).

Name Change

Folklore says the name BIT (Burma Institute of Technology) was changed to RIT (Rangoon Institute of Technology), so that engineering schools could be set up at Mandalay. Note that IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) uses IIT for all its campuses, but qualifies it with the Campus name.

Saya Dr. Koung Nyunt (A 67, GBNF) mentioned that he was a participant and/or witness in the “physical” changing of the names (BIT to RIT) on the building.

Volunteer Service

Many years ago, I asked a journalist how he could write a weekly column. He replied, “As long as one have friends and there are things to see, it’s not difficult to write even daily.”

For more than five decades, I have offered volunteer service to various organizations.

Paying back to RIT

I started “RIT Alumni International Newsletter” in 1989. I asked at least three times if someone wanted to take over as the volunteer messenger, writer and editor. Even my fiercest critics would not step up. I would complete — in a few months — two decades of my service to my alma mater, mentors and colleagues. The smiles on the faces of my former teachers, and occasional pat on the back by my colleagues give me “second wind” and the energy to “go the extra mile.”

Messenger

  • For nearly two decades, I have served as a messenger.
  • In the early days, many sayas and alumni provided me with articles, news, and photos.
  • The idea of getting reconnected electronically and physically was novel. There were several hundred who accessed the first RIT web site designed and maintained by KMZ.
  • Some traveled a long way (from Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand) to attend the First RIT Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe.
  • Some sayas and alumni became GBNF (Gone But Not Forgotten). Some saw a decline in their health.
  • With the event of social media, the number of RIT related pages grew. There are many silent readers and few active contributors.
  • Being a messenger is not easy. When an alumni asked me to relay the demise of Ko Victor Win, I double checked before posting the news. Then, someone who is near and dear to Mrs. Victor claimed that Ko Victor was hospitalized, but had not passed away. After some confusion, the sad news was confirmed.
  • Some sayas and alumni want privacy. They do not want the news of their visits or failing health to be relayed. We have to respect them.
  • There are many posts by sayas, alumni and friends. I have re-posted only a sample of their works.
  • As my mentors said, “The message is much more important than the messenger.”

Paying back to UCC

During my visit to Yangon early this year, I spent three days writing “Memories of UCC.” My former student Phyu Phyu Kyaw (USA) called, “You should take time off and enjoy your stay in Burma. You can continue writing when you get back to the USA. I suggest that you should spend two nights and three days in Bagan. She pledged air ticket and hotel stay as Garawa.”

It was my second trip to the ancient city. Things have changed a lot since my quick trip to Bagan and Nyaung Oo many years ago.

I saw tourists taking photographs of the ancient shrines. I saw some driving motor cycles to get around the area and beyond (e.g. to Mount Popa). Some who are short of time take the Package Tour with a tourist guide.

I wrapped up “Memories of UCC” by archiving them in PDF and Word form. I also summarized the long article to a length that can be incorporated into the Special Issue published by UCSY (University of Computer Studies in Yangon).

Sharing Trivia and Knowledge

Upon my return to the USA, I started writing Trivia posts based on what I learned from my Thin Saya, Myin Saya and Kyar Saya.

I was happy when I hit the 100 mark. It was like completing a lap in a long race.

Reviewers and Contributors

Saya Dr. Aung Gyi suggested topics to be covered in the book. Saya wanted us to present the RIT Spirit.

Dr. Thane Oke Kyaw Myint added memories of his father, uncles and aunts. I knew more about the seven siblings :

  • U Tin Tut
  • U Kyaw Myint
  • U Myint Thein
  • Dr. Htin Aung
  • Daw Khin Mya Mu
  • Daw Khin Saw Mu
  • Daw Tin Saw Mu

I also learned about Dr. Thane Oke Kyaw Myint’s former students who are Professors and Distinguished Authors.

Dr. Nyunt Wai (Victor, SPHS63, Fourth in Burma in Matriculation) added many entries to the “Names” series. He added the names of medical professionals, artists, writers, and statesmen.

Dr. Khin Maung U (George, SPHS63, First in Burma in Matriculation) shared his writings on Medical Research and Dhamma.

U Khin Maung Zaw (KMZ, SPHS70, EC76) provided feedback for the RIT, UCC and SPHS posts.

U Ohn Khine (St. Peter’s, M70) sent me selected photos from the CD Supplement of HMEE-2012. He maintains the GBNF list of the Class of 70.

U Aung Min (M69) is Chair of the 69er HCF (Health Care Fund) and a core organizer of the 69er Gatherings. He maintains the GBNF list of the Class of 69.

Dr. Richard Yu Khin (MEHS61, Gold Medalist in 2nd SEAP Games for Yachting) wrote about swimmers and the Japanese coach. He also shared photos :

  • MEHS 61
  • University Athletes who represented Burma in 2nd SEAP Games.

He has two Facebook pages.

  • One is about Sailing. He won Gold for Yachting in the 2nd SEAP Games held in Rangoon, Burma.
  • Another is about his former classmates, neighbors, Economics, …

My Toastmasters Journey

I joined Toastmasters International over a decade to hone my Public Speaking and Leadership skills. Prepared speeches, Impromptu speeches, Listening and evaluation are important in communications.

I completed DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster). I also volunteered as Club Ambassador.

Hla Min : Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM)

I was a member of five Toastmasters Clubs (not concurrently). Although all clubs follow the general guidelines, they tweak the meeting agenda.

My latest club was founded by Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs. It is special in one aspect. It holds a mini “Pitch Practice” on the first meeting of every month and a full Pitch Practice on the middle month of every quarter. One has to state the problem, solution, the differentiators and finally ask for cooperation or funding (as appropriate). All in two minutes or less.

There are currently no Toastmasters clubs in Myanmar. In our younger days, there was a Rotary Club which had a public speaking component.

There have been TEDx talks in Myanmar for three years or so. One organizer is the daughter of U Sann Aung (M74).

In 2008, three women set the record by placing First, Second and Third in the “World Championship of Public Speaking”. It has been a decade since there was a woman Champion. The winner and third place winner were from the USA. The runner-up was from China.

In the past few years, the winners were from Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Singapore) and the Middle East.

Awards from District 101

Toastmasters International is based in US.

District 4 (which I joined several years ago) grew “too big” to warrant splitting into two districts. The clubs mostly north of Highway 101 remained in District 4. The clubs mostly south of Highway 101 fall under District 101.

The following are from the “Fall Conference of District 101 Toastmasters”.

I won four awards.

  • DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster)
  • Leadership Excellence
  • Advanced Leader Silver
  • Triple Crown

Toastmasters Meetings

As an Ambassador for Toastmasters, I attended meetings at several clubs.

Most clubs follow the three part format :

  • Prepared Speeches
  • Table Topics (Impromptu Speeches)
  • Evaluation

Some clubs occasionally have special meetings

  • Marathon Speeches
  • Table Topics Only Meeting
  • Round Robin Evaluation
  • Themed Meeting

At one club, members wore Halloween costumes. The speeches also cover Halloween (or similar topics).

Halloween themed meeting

The Ambassador is asked to take one or more roles at the meeting.

  • Speaker
  • General Evaluator
  • Speech Evaluator

A report about the visit is provided to the District.

As an incentive, one who makes 10 or more visits is given a pass to attend the “breakfast meeting” on the day following the main Conference.

Toastmasters International

The mission statement reads, “We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.”

It was founded by a former administrator of YMCA. With headquarters in California, it has members worldwide. The first international conference outside of the Americas will be held this August in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The conference crowns the “World Champion of Public Speaking”.

There are closed clubs (sponsored by companies and corporations) and open clubs (with little or no restrictions to join or visit).

One can visit several clubs before deciding to become a member.

In the old system, the communication track consisted of 4 levels
(a) CC – Competent Communication
(b) ACB – Advanced Communicators Bronze
(c) ACS – Advanced Communicators Silver
(d) ACG – Advanced Communicators Gold.

The leadership track consisted of three levels

(a) CL – Competent Leader
(b) ALB – Advanced Leader Bronze
(c) ALS – Advanced Leader Silver.

The ultimate award is DTM – Distinguished Toast Master, who has completed both the communication track and the leadership track.

In the new system, there are several Pathways.

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