And many weekends spent away from your family as well? If you can then you probably are a member of the RIT Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe organizing committee.
It all began one day several months ago when we met over lunch at Benny Tan’s home in Hillsborough. Ko Hla Min and Ko Khin Maung Zaw among the lunch party had started the RIT Alumni website and were receiving enthusiastic responses. Hearing that the duo were carrying on the project all by themselves we decided to throw in our moral and financial support to assure its survival, realizing that it was providing a needed service for the RIT alumni to locate and communicate with each other. Every one present, ten of us at that time, took out our checkbooks and wrote out one hundred dollars each, with promises of more as needed. We informally called ourselves the RIT Alumni Bay Area Group. I was asked to be the group leader.
After that fateful event we continue to have regular meetings, hosted in turn at the homes of some among group members: Ko Hla Min, Maurice Chee, Ko Myat Htoo, Ko Thein Aung, and most recently Dr Nyo Win. Did I leave out any one? Ah yes! Ko Myint Swe and San San Swe. All the while the membership continues to grow and our objective keeps on changing from support of the website to some vague dream of a future RIT alumni organization on a global scale and finally settled on a plan for RIT Alumni Grand Reunion at the beginning of the 21st Century. Ko Hla Min broached the idea to include Saya Pu Zaw Pwe as part of the Grand Reunion in keeping with the Myanmar custom of honoring one’s teachers. As our plan jelled we got carried away by our own excitement and started talking about holding the reunion before the end of the Year 2000. After all, ending one millennium successfully augers well for success in the next millennium.
Before we fully realized what we were up to we have found an ideal site, the Embassy Suites Hotel conference hall near the San Francisco International Airport, and found ourselves making a commitment for a definite date, 28 October 2000 and a attendance fee of fifty dollars, a modest amount to encourage maximum number of Alumni to participate. The minimum capacity of the conference hall is 200 seats and we were required to make down payment and sign a rental and service agreement based on 200 seatings. Our most optimistic estimate at the time was 100 attendees. If the attendance is low that means the Bay Area Group, as the Organizing Committee
was not in force at the time, will have to make up the short fall. Which could amount to as much as five thousand dollars, or five hundred dollar from each group member. We hesitated a moment to reflect on what that means to us individually in terms of diminished spending power. But, in the end our attachment to RIT and the engineering profession, our sincere desire to meet the Sayas and class mates from whom we were separated for long over came us. We will accept the risks.
Thus was born the preparations in full swing for the Grand RIT Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe. Others must tell the rest of the story – of struggles, compromises, and elations along the way and from participants themselves what it means to be present at the defining moment in the history of RIT Alumni.
RIT Alumni International – Bay Area Group
RIT Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe Organizing Committee
Editor’s Note :
Saya Allen is a founding member of RIT Alumni International and served as its President.
In Memory of Saya Allen, Daw Mu Mu Khin has donated Saya’s books to the YTU Library and has sponsored scholarships to eligible YTU students.