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MEHSA 2006 Reunion in L.A. by Phyllis Aung Gine

MEHSA 2006 Reunion in L.A.

by Phyllis Aung Gine
They came flying in from all over the world, halfway across the continent, and also from across the nation. They are all bound for the great 2006 Reunion, which was set for July 2 – 3, 2006. Talk has been going around for a long time now and people are getting very anxious to be there, to be present where everyone who is anyone will be there, to be seen and to see. Some will be strutting around with their new spouses, some will be coming in troves, some will come to reacquaint themselves with old friends, and some will come to make new friends, but all are coming for the great 2006 High School Reunion of Methodist English High School that we had all waited for!

In the Capitol City of Washington, D.C., Phyllis (Aung Gine) and Tommy Htay were making plans. We had a meeting to make sure that we get all the alumni in the greater Capitol Area of Metropolitan D.C. as well as the Alumni New Yorkers know about this great get together and make sure that all alumni in the East Coast will attend. In the Washington, D.C. area we got me, Tommy Htay, Esme Chan Tun, Jenny McKintosh (now Jenny Tun Aung), Bo Zaw Win & Jeannette, Marylin Smith, Glen Smith, Jean Ko Ko Gyi, Marjorie Htoon, Patricia Than Myaing, Hla Hla Myint, Douglas San Lin & Mya Dali, Kenneth Chit Myaing, Betty Than Tin, Tyrone Tha Doe, Bo Bo Kyaw Nyein, Richard Aye, Cynthia Aye & Tin Mg Thaw, Julian Taw, Clyde Ba Thein & Diana Aye and others. In New York, we have Eric Kay, Bo Lay, Johnny Yang, Brian Sein Tun, Edmund Aung Than, Michael Ohn Myint, Alexander Chu, Annette Myo Zin and still others.

At first, some alumni were like, “I haven’t seen my classmates for over thirty plus years, I don’t know if anyone will recognize me or I will recognize them” but I was able to persuade them with “look, it will really be fun to check out those people from the website and see if they still look like when they were young” and I reminisced about the wonderful time we had at the U.K. Reunion in 2001. Don’t miss out on this one, I said, this’ll be the biggest Reunion ever, and you want to be part of this! That got them, and they came, although some people didn’t make it, like they promised to…

So my own little group from my batch, class of ’66 got together and made plans and came. L.A., here we come!

I took off on Friday, June 30th, and flew straight from my office to the airport as I did not want to waste anytime. My mother, Teacher Daw Tin Tin Sein had arrived a few days earlier and was staying with my brother Derek Aung Gine, in Los Angeles. At first Poppet Than Myaing decided not to come as she had a lot of activities going on, however, as the time grew near and the Reunion fever caught on, she couldn’t resist and said, “I am coming, I’m coming!” And she bought the ticket at the last minute and made it.

The first day, I spent some time with my family, as Derek complained, “when you meet your friends you always go off with them and don’t come back,” which is true as my sister Rita also complained when I was back in Burma for the 2005 Reunion, I hardly ever stayed at home but gallivant around with all my friends that I haven’t seen for many years. This is what happens when you meet old school friends again after so many years.

The second day, Dolly Khin Mg Mg, was hosting a “Class of 66 Party” at her house, and we were all going. But some of us hadn’t arrived yet, so Dolly, in her kind heartedness, went and picked up Poppet Than Myaing & her husband Victor as well as Annette Myo Zin at the airport. On the way back she also picked up Kitty Khoo & Harry Jan, and me, and we all went happily in her SUV, singing, laughing and making fun of each other all along the way until we reached our hostess’ house. One by one they came and I was surprised to see quite a bit of us were gathered here at Dolly’s house. Class of 66 PartyWinsome Aye Mg was already there, sweating in the kitchen helping Dolly cook. I was surprised but happy to see Gerald Tin Mg, Tun Kyaw Nyein with his lovely new wife, Danny Kay, William Taw and Michael Lim with their families, Thazin Tin Mg Mg, Kitty Khoo & Harry Jan, Brian Sein Tun, Edmund Aung Than, Michael Ohn Myint, (Eric Kay and Tommy Lin (a) Bo Lay didn’t make it that night as they were busy in Vegas), my sister Julia and also Johnny Yang was arriving late that night.

Later, we called up Thomas Ong (in Hong Kong), who wanted to come but couldn’t make it, as he is now taking his third round of chemotherapy. We all told him how much we missed him and wished he were here, and took turns speaking to him, laughing, joking, and encouraging him until Danny Kay’s phone card ran out.

As Dolly is a good cook, the food was great, but the company was greater still, so we ate, made jokes at each other, sang some MEHS songs that most of us know by heart and had so much fun, until midnight suddenly arrived. The party broke up after midnight, tired but very happy, thanks to our kind hostess Dolly, we all had a wonderful time.

The next day was the Reunion Day! After Dolly’s party I went off with Winsome Aye Mg to stay at her lovely house in Thousand Oaks. That day, before the party, Winsome and I met the group from Dolly’s house, and went out to Long Beach, had lunch, then went around some more and came back to change and get ready for the Reunion.

The Reunion was a great one, with almost 300 students attending, and the casual setting at the Country Club at Mesa Verde was wonderful, thanks to the California group of the MEHSA planning committee.

Originally, we invited 14 teachers, who had wanted to come, but only 8 teachers made it, since some teachers were too old or not too well to make this long trip to the U.S. Those teachers who made it were: Daw Khin Khin Thein, Daw Myint Myint Sein, Daw Aye Than, Daw Tin Tin Sein (Mrs. Aung Gine), Dr. Bob Fuller, Ms. Elaine Quinn, Mr. George Teoh and Daw Khin Thein Chit (a) Gloria Hengshoon. All the teachers received a gift of $500 each, and the Organizing Committee in California decided that the surplus of the donation from the alumni, in the amount of $6,000 will be held for the Donation Fund to be distributed to the surviving teachers in Yangon in the near future.

We all started arriving around 4:30 pm, and each Alumni gets a name badge with the color sticker of the House they belonged to, (e.g. green for Judson, yellow for Carey and so on). Alumnis also received a memento mug in maroon and gold, with the school logo displayed in the front and the motto at the back. Raffle tickets were sold at the entrance for prizes such as tickets for two, a flower arrangement gift, wine bottles and so on…

The air was thick with conversations and shrieks of recognition as alumni after alumni arrived and more hugs and kisses followed. Then we had a social hour of getting together with friends, with some refreshments and hors d’oeuvres served. At 6:00 pm Benny Yeap gave a welcoming speech, he made an introduction of teachers and honored and thanked the teachers for coming. During this time, we were entertained with some Indian dances by Sheila Patail’s beautiful daughters and then the Burmese Candle Dance performed by Jannette Kamdar’s lovely daughter, followed with a belly dance, by another daughter. Then our guest speaker Dr. Robert Fuller made a speech. During dinner, Tommy Htay and Gloria Winthein made an honorable mention of the MEHSA Website contribution to Kenny Teoh for his tireless work of setting up and updating our official website. Kenny was awarded with a Crystal Plaque and a gift certificate for all the good work he has done.

The dinner lasted with talks and the taking of the numerous photographs, and still more talks. Then we had some group sing-a-long led by Gloria Hengshoon singing songs that we all know by heart, such as Sarasponda, Vive L’Amour, and Zum Gali Gali, to be ended by our own Methodist English School Song, to which everyone stood up and sang with all their hearts.

While dinner was going on, there was always music playing in the background, and pictures of the reunions in England and Burma, and school class photos as well as some memorable photos were displayed on a big screen behind the podium for all to enjoy and reminisce. Edwin Tin Htut and wife Tammy donated the beautiful MEHS banner which we displayed proudly behind the podium.

When dinner was over, the dance music started to play and couples started to dance. We got some group pictures taken and before too long, it was 12:00 am, midnight!

Edwin made a closing speech with the exciting announcement that the next 2008 Reunion will be held in Bangkok. We all went home, tired, but very, very, happy to be there with all the long lost friends.

The next day, at the Mesa Verde Country Club, there was a brunch planned, and a lot of people showed up, but some took off for Las Vegas, and others took off in their own groups to savour the short time that we had left together, before heading back home.

All in all, I believe the 2006 Reunion was a great success! Thanks to the organizing committee, we had a student participation of over 280, with a representation of alumni from countries such as Australia, Austria, Burma, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Cyprus, India, Malaysia, Malta, Thailand, United Kingdom and of course the good old USA.