by Maung Maung Win (M61)
I was nominated to lecturer-position by Sayagyi U Yone Moe within a month of my return from overseas. However, due to some hiccups, the promotion was delayed by 7 month. U Kyin Soe and I became lecturers with the pay scale 800-50-1200. Those who got promoted later as lecturers got only 800-40-1000 according to the revised pay scale. U Kyin Soe became Rector of RIT (after I left for Australia in 1980). I find that he is very honest and straight forward but a bit short-tempered because he is a man who always stands up for principle.
I was given added responsibility as Workshop Superintendent of RIT workshop when U Phone Myint and U Tin Maung Oo went to Japan on study leave for a couple of years. I did something regarding the workmen’s benefit for which they were really thankful to me. Our workshop consisted of machine shop (Saw Jimmy), carpentry (U Hla Maung), fitting, black smith (U Hla Maung and U Chit), welding. Every student had to do practical training in these shops for a couple months in rotation in their first and second year.
I also served as a member of all universities magazine committee. We had to read and pass all the articles, poems and cartoons; without our signatures nothing would/could be published.
I remember that we had in every department translation groups to translate technical terms aiming to publish a technical dictionary to which we all have to sit once a week in our respective department, arguing a lot to approve each and every word of technical term for suitable meaning in Burmese when the new system was introduced. I would not have a clue what happened to that effort and work whether it had been successfully compiled or discarded totally when I left for Australia in Oct 80.
I was also given another job with a very splendid name Dy. Director of UNDP project, constructing a new building near the Metallurgy Department, RIT. It was still being built unfinished when I left for Australia.
OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT OPENED FOR STUDENTS
Many of our graduates especially Mechanical and Electrical find hard to find jobs within Burma. They were encouraged to form Shaysaung Cooperatives for Mechanical and Moe Gyo Cooperatives for Electrical on the campus with a couple of sayars, who took control and oversee of necessary disciplines. I took charge of Shaysaung as president for a number of years. Later U Win, Dr Tin Hlaing and U Thein Tun Aung continued in that capacity.
Since 1970 many engineering graduates started leaving for overseas job because engineering jobs were scarce within the country. Many embarked to grab whatever job they could have their hands on especially in Singapore, Malaysia and USA etc. Thanks to the CETANA and genuine input of well trained qualified sayars and teachers that most of the graduates found suitable and well-paid jobs in many private and public sectors overseas. I met personally those Ex-RIT graduates in many of my travel to many countries and to my surprise many came and wished me all the best whenever they heard about any sayars visiting their place. Also they never stayed away but always show their sincerity and generosity, treating the visiting sayars with lunch or dinner in their honour. Personally I am really delighted and enjoyed their company and their love and respect even though we have been separated for more than 30-40 years since we left the Institute. That is to keep the ever beaconing of RIT torch and I would like to urge everyone connected to RIT to keep the RIT tradition undistinguished and undiminished so long as we live.
I had another yearning desire to become warden of the hostels. Later I was fortunate enough because the Rector Sayagyi Dr U Aung Gyi, who thought heads of departments were busy with office-work, stopped appointing heads of departments but appointed able and capable lecturers. Thereby I got the job with added financial remuneration, free accommodation and free telephone. I was appointed twice for the same position for two successive terms. I remember many worked under me as hall tutors like U Nyi Hla Nge, U Khin Maung Tint, U Maung Oo, U Khin Maung Win etc. All of them are very polite, cooperative and respectful. U Nyi Hla Nge later became Rector of the Institute but he still showed his respect when I met him in April 07 Ex-RIT Sayar Pu Zaw Pwe. U Shwe Yi, Dr San Tint, Dr Tin Hlaing and U Thein Tan also became wardens and I had the opportunity to work alongside with them.
We had a program introduced by the Revolutionary Government to promote and educate labourers and peasants with engineering knowledge. Many RIT staff took part to deliver through the Burmese Broadcasting Service, Kamayut. I took turns several times together with U Thit, Dr Tin Haling, U Aung Hla Tun etc.
When Sayagyi U Aung Khin left the department for Canada in ’78, U Ba Than became the head of department and as he lives outside the RIT campus I was given the responsibility to assume and officiate the duty of the head of department during his absence. Many Mechanical students who were looking for overseas jobs with many shipping companies came to me to sign and recommend their papers. I helped them immediately on the spot. Later they even came to my house when they needed help. That is the reason I made many students very happy and they never forget my assistance. They always show their love and respect because I made the door of the department always open for them.
I remember the time we went practical training during our summer holidays for two months in our second and third years to enhance and widen our theoretical knowledge. If we missed any one of them it had to be repeated as a prerequisite for degree. I got my practical training first time in the Moulmein Dockyard and second time in Alone Dockyard (Sin Ma Leik), Kyimyin Daing Rangoon. Many times the faculty members were sent to supervise the training. I remember the time we went Upper Burma, Thayetmyo and Syriam with Sayagyi U Aung Khin, U Tin Hlaing, U Tu Myint, Dr Tin Win etc. I found it was really enjoyable because we had a good social interaction with staff and students which really cemented our friendship until this day even though we left the Institute years and years ago by choice. Also I remember second year Civil engineering students went to Maymyo for their survey training under the supervision of enthusiastic and energetic teachers and leaders. Everyone knows that we are very fortunate to enjoy students-teachers relationship which is admirable and worthwhile to everyone because even though I left the Institute more than 30 years ago, I am surprised when I met many Ex-RIT students not only from Mechanical department but from other disciplines as well came and wished me with love and respect to which I felt greatly satisfied and honoured. I met many more than 30 with their spouses in LA on 3 Oct ’10 and also in San Francisco on Oct ’10 and also many students again in Feb. ’11 to Washington DC.
I must admit that my service with the Institute for more than 20 years, teaching and working in many walks of life I come to know many teachers, students, workmen and their families etc. the friendship with them gives me delight and pleasure until today. It seems to me that my mind is always there enjoying their true friendship and the glimpse of those familiar faces with me always wherever I go.
Most of the workmates, comrades and colleagues are very friendly showing their love and respect not only while we were back then in RIT but until today whenever and wherever we meet occasionally and accidentally at the time of gathering like the Sayar Pu Zaw Pwe sponsored by the Ex-RIT students all over the world and many times on our own private visit to different countries like New Zealand, America, Singapore, Thailand and also back in Burma etc. We all love our Institute and we honour it because not only we acquired sufficient knowledge very useful to find employment for our livelihood but also we learn to respect and love one another; many find life very nice and easy because many overseas companies in advanced countries recognised and employed most of the RIT graduates for their benefit as well as for our own who left home for better lives and new future for our off-springs. I attended more than three times the Ex-RIT Reunion where I met many old comrades and colleagues and old students who showed the same love and respect while we were back then in RIT. It is so wonderful and worth remembering for their warm responses. Every time I attended I was asked to deliver a speech as a sign of respect to which I appreciated very much.
SPORT AND OTHER SOCIAL ACTIVITY
While we were in RIT we played soccer in many friendly matches between Mechanical and Civil, Electrical and other minor departments and most of us enjoyed playing. Most of the time Sayagyi Dr U Aung Gyi, U Tin Hlaing, U Soe Paing, U Kyin Soe, Dr U Tin Hlaing, Saw Christopher Maung, Dr U San Tint, U Saw Pru, U Maung Maung Win were a few names as keen enthusiasts. (Note: As I cannot remember all the names I’d like to ask U Soe Paing to add a few more.)
Some also played tennis among who were Dr U Aung Gyi, Dr Khin Maung Win, Dr Tin Hlaing, U Tin Hlaing, U Tu Myint U Tin Htut etc as regulars. I remember Dr Tin Hlaing, U Myo Win and I played badminton regularly in the badminton court on the campus.
Many Russian staff came together with the gift of the building and they taught in some specialised fields and also acted as interpreters. They also taught Russian language to interested students in the evening where many attended to learn new language, is commendable.
Occasionally we had debates sponsored by the Burmese language association which invited some notable and well-known authors and sometimes I acted as chairman on the occasion in the hall fully filled to the capacity attended by most of the students who really enjoyed.
Musical entertainments with many famous entertainers and celebrities were invited for students’ enjoyment and entertainment by the same association and also the administration arranged movies shown in the hall during weekend in the evening for the students and employee dependents for their recreation. Most of the hall tutors and wardens, security officers kept vigil with their eyes opened to maintain law and order.
Sometimes in 1963 during summer holidays U Tin Hlaing (M-deceased) and two of his mates followed me to my home town Moulmein to see different places namely Amherst, Thambyuzayat, where the Military Cemetery for thousands of soldiers who died fighting the Japanese during WWII and also to one big island Belugyun just opposite Moulmein across the River Salween where my family spent many years during WWII.
When we were students the hostel and food cost us only K50 per month and the education was free for everybody. And the scholarship and stipend was also K50 and also we had stipend board in RIT comprising of heads of departments and other senior teachers including myself to listen to applicants’ life story so that our judgement and assessment would be fair and lenient in awarding and rewarding stipend to most deserving students.
The department encouraged students with excellent idea of invention and innovation of something new and I remember that our head of department took keen interest in those students and teachers who guided and supervised a certain group of students to experiment on hovercraft and I think the project was successful. Thanks to the valuable input of Sayagyi U Aung Khin, U Tin Hlaing, U Tu Myint.