7th MEHSA Reunion in Hawaii
By Phyllis Aung Gine
Aloooo-haaaa Hawaiiii-eeeee!!! Here we come!!!
With this cry, we, the alumni of MEHS descended on the beautiful island of Hawaii, from all over the world. Hawaii officially became the fiftieth state of the United States, on August 21, 1959. It is one of the smallest states, and it is the only state made up entirely of islands. The islands are the tops of volcanoes, some of them still active. What a better way to celebrate the 7th Reunion of MEHS on this exotic island!
We came in droves, some of us came all the way from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Netherlands, the UK and mainland United States.
Many of us stayed at the Ala Moana Hotel, but some stayed at the Ko’Olina, a luxurious condominium resort which is located close to the venue at the Lanikuhonua (“where heaven meets the earth”). Lily had arranged for the Ala Moana Hotel to give us a group discount and the hotel is located in the downtown area where there is a walking bridge that connected the Ala Moana to the Shopping Center next door. Thus we can always go there for our last minute shopping for our immediate needs such as water bottles, snacks and gifts, and in my case, a Hawaiian dress for the occasion.
I arrived on the 3rd of September, but our flights were delayed and we arrived at the Ala Moana late at night. The next morning, after breakfast, I went across the bridge to the shopping center to find the things I needed. I was delighted to find that there are many wonderful stores where we can find our basic commodities to the High End Stores. I found my island dress at one of the little stores and some gifts to take home as well. Lunchtime came and I joined my cousin Jimmy WinThein and Ma Ma Gloria for lunch and they later took me on a tour to see the Dole plantation.
The next day, I joined my classmate Bryan Sein Tun and his wife Theingi for another shopping tour. In the evening, I met Lily Chen and Family as well as Sheila Patail and husband Alfred, plus Sally Joseph, Lillian Wu, William Chen and Kandy Douglas for dinner. These are the volunteers who helped with the setup of the Reunion place.
Originally, William Taw has invited us to his home for dinner on Friday night. But his back went out and he was in great pain and had to be hospitalized. Of course the dinner at his house was canceled. We all pray that William will be much better now.
On Saturday, William, Kandy and I walked down to the beach and had breakfast and went over to the Lanikuhonua (“where heaven meets the earth”) to set up the tables and chairs. Sheila Patail did some wonderful flower arrangements for the tables. I volunteered to help put up the tablecloths and the balloons and also to put up the oil lamps for the night. Gloria kindly brought some rice and fish curry and balachaung which the volunteers enjoyed.
Later that afternoon, alumni started to arrive, and I sat at the Registration desk for alumni to come and register themselves and to give them their name tags. After that, I told them to move to the other end of the table to get themselves lei’ed. People looked surprised, but were quite happy to be lei’ed and receive a small gift.
After registration, we stood around in groups as the Traditional Opening Ceremony was about to start. Faith Tin has arranged for the professional Kumus (“the Source”) to do the welcome chant and also to bless the event. This ceremony is performed by Aukai Reynolds (one of the 3 kumus), dressed in ceremonial attire and blowing on the conch shell to start the event. After the chanting and the blessings were done, all of us went inside the tent to be seated. The Tahitian dancers came next. They were arranged by Lily and William to perform for us and they very graciously performed both days.
We started off the procession by the President of the Alumni Association, Gloria Winthein, carrying the MEHS School Flag, followed by the four House flags, with Sheila Patail carrying the Yellow Flag for Carey, Phyllis Aung Gine, carrying the Green flag for Judson and Hazel Kyaw Zaw, carrying the Blue Flag for Livingstone and Beauty Myo Min, carrying the Red flag for Wesley. All of us were wearing the grass skirts to set the island mood.
Later, Mra Tun’s band started to play and we sang the popular songs such as, The Happy Wanderer, My Banjo and the MEHS Hawaiin Reunion Song to the music of the Hawaiian wedding song, composed by Lily Chen and Lin Herbert.
After that introductions were made by our Alumni President Gloria WinThein, with Lucy Chen acting as MC. Then the Te Ori Tahitian dancers entertained us with their native dances. You have to be there to enjoy the full impact of the dances. For those who are not present, you can still enjoy the dances by buying the CD for this event. While we were clicking away with our cameras, the sun was setting and it was a beautiful sight.
Dinner was soon announced and we all trooped over to the tent where all kinds of Burmese food were prepared for us. There were a delicious array of Burmese food such as Let-Hpet-thoke, Gyin thoke and Nan-gyi thoke. There were also Ma-Gyee Hpyaw Ye, tea, coffee and other drinks. After dinner, since all of us were wearing island attire, there was a competition for the best Aloha shirt worn by the men. So the men happily paraded up and down and we all voted. Then people started to dance on the dance floor and as the night grew to an end, we all took off for the night.
The next morning, my roommate, Kandy and I got up early in the morning to go to the big Flea market at the Stadium. We found all kinds of wonderful gifts to take home. Hawaiian shirts, dresses, and those wonderful island quilts, which were so expensive at the stores, but we got them at a bargain price. Then we went off to help with the event at 10:00am.
This time brunch was like heaven. We had, Nan-Bya and Pe-byoke, Kauk Hnyin–Baung and Hnan Htaung there was Mohinga (My friend declared he will have 3 bowls of Mohinga), there was Bein Mont (made by Gloria WinThein) and tea and coffee. We all gorged ourselves like hungry children.
Then the MC announced the Tribute and recognitions. After that Mra Tun’s band started play. Then we had a games competition for the 4 Houses. We played the Maharajah game and our House, Judson won. Wesley also won the next game.
Later, we had some more snacks and there was group dancing. Then the Auction Items were announced. Next we had a 1 minute talk about ourselves and the school, some people were so enthusiastic they went over their 1 min, but no one minded.
During this talk, my roommate Kandy and I quietly sneaked away back to our hotel and enjoyed our nice swim in the sea. We were back at the event in one hour and I hope nobody noticed us missing for an hour. After the 1 minutes, we took our group pictures. I am so sorry to see that our class of ’66 had only 6 people.
Soon, dinner was announced, and once again, we had some wonderful Dan-bauk Hta-min, which we all enjoyed. Dessert was also great as there was Mont-let hsaung, among others.
After dinner, the results of the Aloha shirt contest was announced. Lin Aung Thet won the 1st Prize, followed by Tommy Htay, Ted Chen and Mra Tun. The Judson and Wesley Houses that won the game also got the chocolate covered macadamias nuts. Then the Juliet Teoh Award was presented to Tommy Htay, Gloria WinThein and Cecil Teoh.
During dinner time Mra Tun’s band was playing and numerous popular songs were sung by Mra Tun, Michael Tin Hla with our female vocalist, Winsome Aye Mg. Suddenly, as the event was coming to an end, there was a loud explosion and all of us looked towards the sky to see colorful bursts of fireworks in the sky. We cannot help but think it was a wonderful end to our beautiful event and that God is watching over us. Then came the time to end our Reunion, so we sang our beloved MEHS song, thinking of Mrs. Logie and the wonderful years we all had at our school and then with tears in our eyes and waving the candle lights, we sang Auld Lang Syne with our heartfelt voices and our Reunion came to an end. We also sang “Aloha ‘Oe” (until we met again) written by the last queen of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani where Tin Myaing Thein (Faith Tin) danced to the song. We don’t know when the next Reunion will be, but wherever it is, I invite all the alumni to come and enjoy themselves, just as we had enjoyed ourselves this time. If you also have suggestions for our next reunion event please feel free to email the Alumni association.
My grateful thanks to the organizers of the 7th Reunion event and the President of the Alumni Association, Gloria WinThein, with the group Lily Chen, Lucy Chen, Sheila Patail, Sally Joseph and other volunteers, plus Faith Tin, who lives on the island, and who made this wonderful event happen.