64 “Countdown to the Reunion”
36 “Post Reunion”
posts for SPZP-2000.
The following is the first post in “Post Reunion” Series.
Dear Sayas and Colleagues,
At this time of writing, several alumni and sayas are on their way back to their homes after spending two or three wonderful days of their lives at the once-in-a-lifetime Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe (SPZP).
After receiving the Distinguished Member Award, KMZ (U Khin Maung Zaw), our web master, promised in public his grand plans: a preview of Version 2 of the RIT Alumni International web site, a special CD-ROM that will try to cover as comprehensively the Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe with the contributions by most if not all of the private, semi-professional and professional photographers and videographers.
Unlike the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, there was no singing and dancing to the tune of Auld Lang Syne and Aloha Oe, but there was a striking resemblance when the “Reunion and SPZP” Banner was lowered and then handed over to Daniel (U Tint Lwin, M69), an Associate Professor at NTU in Singapore, who pledged to try his best to hold the next Reunion and SPZP in Singapore 2002. According to Danny, there are 1000+ alums in Singapore. They had asked Danny to take videos for the official event. They cannot wait a few weeks for the official video.
The following are random jottings of the 3-day event.
October 27, 2000 (Friday)
There was an informal get-together at an all you can eat Japanese, Korean and Chinese buffet in San Bruno. 40+ attendees including two of our Golden Sponsors : Steeve Kay (U Thaung Sein, EC70) and Benny Tan (Tan Yu Beng, M70) were present. Both are successful entrepreneurs and CEOs, but they took their precious time off to support RIT Alumni International and its activities.
Usually Steeve does not surf the web. When Sarina Tan (EC93), who helps Steeve part-time while pursuing her postgraduate degree, informed him about the RIT Reunion and SPZP in general and my “Countdown” articles in particular, Steeve sent in a check of $1000 for the Saya Pu Zaw Pwe Fund. He later sent in another check of $2000 to cover the costs of printing RIT Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe T-shirts that were designed by Ko Benny.
At the Reunion and SPZP dinner [on Saturday, 28th October 2000], all Sayas and Sayamas — young and old — were given the memorabilia T-shirts.
October 28, 2000 (Saturday)
Reunion Dinner and SPZP
Although Asians are known for showing up late for weddings and ceremonies, throngs of alums showed up early at the Embassy Suites Hotel. I was called in to verify attendees who told the reception desk volunteers that they had genuinely forgotten to bring their tickets. I saved the day for Anthony Kyam (aka U Kyaw Win and Joe Kyin) and several other alums and sayas.
Every attendee got at least a commemorative mug, but a lot of smiles and memories. Several said that they would not mind even if dinner was not served.
Saya U Myo Myint Sein‘s friend — a world renowned architect — told Saya that he would trade all his gold medals and prizes to be honored at a SPZP.
Saya U Aung Khin gave a synopsis of his post-retirement sojourn round the world. For details, see the “RIT Alumni International Newsletter Special Issue.”
Saya U Min Wun reminded that without true Cetana, even Internet and the modern technologies are not sufficient to hold Reunion and SPZP.
Saya U Khin Aung Kyi clasped his hands and verbally [and physically] paid respect to his two Sayas — Sayagyi U Ba Toke and Sayagyi U Num Kok.
Sayagyi U Ba Toke, on behalf of all the Sayas, prayed that we should all be “wealthy” spiritually and be “healthy” physically — the two mottos/guidelines he had treasured all his life.
Saya Dr. Aung Gyi‘s key note speech touched lessons of the past, the importance of the present, and well-laid plans for the future.
October 29, 2000 (Sunday)
At the get-together picnic [on Sunday, 29th October, 2000], the remaining T-shirts were put on sale. They were sold out in no time. The Sayas and alums proudly sported the T-shirts.
Steeve told me that he liked the explicit as well as the sublime messages — “If one person can dream, others can make the dream come true”, “Face adversity”, “Be kind to your parents and sayas”, — that were present in my e-mail articles. He said that at the end of three days, he is reliving sweet memories of his days at RIT.
Jeffrey (U Tun Aung, EC 68) brought unannounced commemorative pens. Now a Director of Engineering — and probably one of the highest ranking government employee in Southern California and may be elsewhere — U Tun Aung showed his appreciation of RIT Alumni International in general and Reunion and SPZP in particular by his deeds and not words. U Tun Aung is a past President of BASES, the BAPS counterpart in Southern California. The Reunion and SPZP owe in part to the existence and activities of BAPS and BASES.
Maurice Chee (U Hla Myint Thein, M75), our co-chair, thanked the spouses and family members. Without their support, who in the world would bet that a world-wide event can be planned and executed within four months. Thanks to our better halves who tolerated long meetings [which often had schedule conflicts with other social events such as offerings at monasteries], and a quick “I love you, honey, but I need to read the latest update about the Reunion and SPZP”, …
Sayagadaw Pam (spouse of Saya Dr. Chris Lee) gave me several home grown fruits and an impromptu Gardening 101. “You need TLC (Tender Loving Care) to the trees and plants. “
Nearly all of the alums and some of their spouses said that we had done a great job. Some said that they feel 30 years younger. They requested me to relax for a while, but to keep on writing.
Relieved and overjoyed after being part of a team that gave 200%, I would second what Saya U Myo Myint Sein’s colleague said.
From my KG days, I had won numerous prizes and awards, but the recognition from my Sayas, my fellow alums, their spouses and their families is far more precious that all those.
My only regret concerns my multi-talented father, an alum of the University of Life. According to the leading medical doctors of his day, he was given three months to live — at the tender age of 14 or 15 — but a Burmese / Indigenous Medicine Expert (named Kadoke Sayagyi) gave him a new life and even imparted his knowledge. Though he defied death for nearly seven more decades, he did not live long enough to see his son strive over one and half years not for a degree exam, not for monetary awards, but solely to show that he can follow the footsteps of his father. Without formal training in Civil Engineering and Architecture — he built pagodas (including the “Dat Poung Zone Aung Min Gaung” pagoda), renovated old pagodas and designed and built houses for himself and his brothers. He was known for his culinary skills and for organizing “Sa-tu-di-tha” (often at Tabaung festivals of the Great Shwe Dagon pagoda). Like Benny and Maurice, he had a passion for tools. He told me bed time stories. He taught me Astrology, Numerology, …, but most of all he loved and honored all his Sayas — Thin saya, Myin saya, Kyar saya. His sayas loved him and his children. One of his sayas U Maung Maung Gyi gave me a special Chess Set with leaded wooden Chess pieces that he had kept as a treasure for years.
Dear father, where ever you are (although I believe that you would be in one of the good abodes in Samsara — rounds of rebirth), I’m thankful for being my Let Oo Saya. You brought smiles to countless people. Thanks for passing on that gift to me.
Some attendees have passed away.
The GBNF include
- Sayagyi U Ba Toke
- Sayagyi U Num Kok
- Saya U Khin Aung Kyi
- Saya U Soe Khaw
- Saya Allen Htay
- Saya U Htin Paw
- Sayama Dr. Julie Han
- Henry Chee (U Myint Lwin)