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My Trip to MEHS Reunion 2005 by Phyllis Aung Gine

My Trip to MEHS Reunion 2005
by Phyllis Aung Gine
I left the United States on January 4th, 2005 to travel to Burma to attend the MEHS Reunion, 2005 event in Rangoon, Burma on January 8th.

My mother Teacher Tin Tin Sein @ Mrs. Aung Gine, came with me and we arrived Burma on Jan 6th. Patricia Than Myaing and her husband Victor Zaw Oo also arrived late that day. We touched base that evening and got in touch with some other friends such as Peggy Kyin, and Teddy Saing who were both in the Reunion Committee.

On the morning of the 8th, we went early to our old school, MEHS, now State High School, No. 1, Dagon. Upon arrival we were greeted by members of the Reunion Team, such as Tin May Lwin, Clement Tin Htut, Rosalyn Wun, Teddy Saing, Harry Saing, Alan Khin Mg Gale, etc. I met Rosebud Ho, Victor Chit, Ruby Kyaw Sein, Peggy Kyin, Ruby Sein, Susan Aye, Pyone Cho Myint and many others. We even had Peggy’s and Alan’s daughters helping out with the event. Many thanks to both of them.

The ceremony started with the opening speech by Dr. Clement Tin Htut and the paying of obeisance to all the teachers. It was sad to note that only 12 of the MEHS teachers were present since many of the old teachers have passed away. There were over 20 of the new Dagon 1 teachers of course. All the teachers were awarded the donations given by the alumni. Alan was the Master of Ceremonies and the members of the Reunion Team worked hard to accomplish this event. My kudos to all of them!

After the ceremony the teachers were served with food and other offerings, the rest of the students had a chance to get together and reminisce about old times, exchange e-mails, phone numbers addresses and take pictures. Cameras flashed and camcorders recorded.

Later that evening, the gala dinner was held at the fabulous Sedona Hotel. I am glad to say that so many people turned up, including the celebrity actress, Wa Wa Win Shwe aka Alice Tun Shwe. The majority of the students attending were from the class of ’66 and I am proud to note that among our group we have many famous vocalists such as Victor Khin Nyo, Warner Chit Ko Ko (from Norway), Clement Tin Htut, Teddy Saing, Harry Gyan from our class of ’66 and other well known singers like Edwin Tin Htut (from Thailand) and Yu Seng (from the U.S.)

After all the food and drinks were taken there were prizes given out, such as a trip for two to Pagan, (won by Poppet Than Myaing and others) and other prizes such as a shampoo and hair setting at Ruby’s Salon (won by Phyllis, Warner and others). We all had a lot of fun and the party finally broke up around 11:30 pm.

The next day, we had another get together at the “Shwe Shan Gan Restaurant”, given by Dolly Khin Mg Mg and Winsome Aye Mg (both from California). As usual most attendees were from the class of ’66 and we had a really nice time getting to know old friends and exchanging addresses and phone numbers. Here, Harry Gyan sang some of his favourite songs and later, Phyllis and Florrie did a duet together.

The following day some of the girls like Pamela Mg Mg and Sandra Chit (from Australia) and others went off to Pagan. Still others took off for Pegu on a road trip.

Then on the 13th Sonny Swe gave a barbecue dinner for our group and we all trekked over to Sonny’s house around 6:30 pm that afternoon. He had his garden lit up in lights and round tables were set up in his front yard and we all listened to good music, enjoyed the great food and altogether had great fun. There we met Ronnie Khoo who was in a monk’s robes and everyone gathered around him to pay repects to the monk and also make jokes. Around 11:00 pm, our party broke up and we all went home, tired but happy and needed to rejuvenate for the next day’s events.

During our get together at the Shwe Shan Gan Restaurant, I told Peggy that I would like to give one party like the others had done before us. (Earlier, before our arrival, four of the MEHS girls had given a January Birthday party and it turned out to be a great event with Warner Chit Ko Ko’s band playing Cliff Richard’s songs). So Peggy suggested that we give a pre-Birthday party for the girls born in February. So a party was formed and given at Peggy’s place by Phyllis, Peggy and Florrie (Hpone Myint) on the 14th.

Once again, most of the crowd was from the class of ’66 and we had a marvelous party with Victor Khin Nyo and Warner Chit Ko Ko singing and Florrie and I joined them at times and Tyrone Tha Toe also playing the back up guitar. Then the party broke up around 11:00 pm as we have to attend another big party the next day and needed to get some rest.

On the 15th, the greatest party was given by Nay Oke (St. Paul) and his wife Wai Wai Kan Oo. Although he is a Paulian, many of our MEHS girls are married to Paulians (including Poppet Than Myaing and Marjorie Htoon) and he is a good friend of the MEHS alumni. I must say Nay Oke put out a lot of funds and effort to make this party great! Once again we gathered at his house for the big event and this time, everyone came. He had his garden all lit up with lights and had hired a band to play for us. This was “The Big Event” and no one was going to miss this one!

Most of the guests were MEHS alumni including, Sandra Chit, Pamela Mg Mg, Yu Seng and Nuela, Kitty Khoo & Harry Gyan, Ruby Sein, Ruby Kyaw Sein, Susan Aye, Diana Aw, Poppet Than Myaing & hubby Victor Zaw Oo, Tyrone Tha Toe and brother Sonny, Warner Chit Ko Ko, Victor Khin Nyo, Rosebud Ho, Alan Khin Mg Gale and wife Ruby, Victor Chit, Winsome Sein Tun, Pandora Aung Gyi and hubby Albert, Tony Hundley, among others. Even Douglas San Lin and wife Mya Dali dropped by.

As usual, food and drinks were in abundance and the company was great! The band was playing all the big Oldies that we grew up with so once again our popular singers such as Victor Khin Nyo, Tony Hundley, Harry Gyan, Yu Seng, Teddy Saing and Victor Chit sang. Warner Chit Ko Ko did his special Cliff Richard numbers and the famous Burmese singer, Nwe Yin Win aka Joyce Win sang as well. Even Victor Zaw Oo (Poppet Than Myaing’s husband) sang two of Elvis’ songs. (Victor Zaw Oo is known in the East coast as the Burmese Elvis and he was once featured in the Burmese section of the VOA). It was the greatest party, but like all good parties, it had to come to an end and we all gave our thanks to Nay Oak, who promised to give another big party next year, providing that we all come. Naturally everyone said Yes!

I thought this was the end to all the partying we would be having. Little did I know that Alan Khin Mg Gale, not to be outdone, also had planned another private party at his place in Ta-Nyin. So once again, we all drove up to Ta-Nyin where his wife Ruby cooked a lovely Fish Biryani lunch. Someone brought some lovely Mandarin oranges and others brought some zee candy and we all exchanged gifts and addresses again. Later, we took a group photo in his lovely garden and we dutifully thanked our gracious host and hostess and went home.

Tyrone Tha Toe wanted to give us dinner the next day, but by this time some of us were getting sick and exhausted and so the party was cancelled. My trip to Burma was over anyway, as I had to leave the next day. One thing I want to mention is that no matter how many years have passed by and how far we have grown apart, or lived apart, once our MEHS students get together it is just like old times again and I learnt that old friends are never really far apart. Just like that line in our MEHS song, “when our school days are finished and we’re far apart, memories we’ll cherish deep within our hearts”, I will always remember the good times, the great friends and the gracious hospitality of our old friends from MEHS, which though times will pass, will never, ever, diminish either from my memory nor from my heart.

With this short article I give my grateful thanks to all my MEHS friends in Burma for their friendship, their kind hospitality and their graciousness that I will always keep with me forever. If, by any chance, anyone of you can come to the states, we, the alumni of the MEHS in the United States, hope to be able to return the same hospitality and kindness.

In case I have missed out some alumni who was there, or some event that I should have mentioned, I hope ya’ll can forgive my inadvertent mistake.

Blogs Posts Reflections

Essence Rides High at the Sixth by Tommy Htay

 by Tommy Htay
The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. The essence of the 6th International Reunion of the Methodist English High School Alumni in Yangon, Myanmar (January 5-6, 2013) was history unchained.

Back again in the womb of our alma mater, MEHS, where we had had our wonderful formative years, elation was one of a seismic proportion with every heartbeat as we sang our school song and other songs in the Assembly Hall, our old habitat.

As Julia Win and Nyunt Nyunt, our comely Masters of Ceremonies, steered us through the January 5th morning programs, I looked around and the faces of the alumni in attendance spoke volubly that Life is Good.

The theme song of the Reunion “Let the Lamp Keep Burning” written by Salwyn Saw Wynn to the melody of Pola Bali, set the tone for the day. The words “Remember the days we stayed hand in hand. We played the games together, Methodist spirit will be in our hearts, Let’s keep our lamp burn eternal” resonated in with the heart-strings of the entire assembly.

Traditional and contemporary dances by the boys and girls of the Dagon State High School (1) in colorful dresses thrilled us all. It was good to know that the Reunion Organizing Committee had a big hand in providing those dresses of the dancers as well as a cash donation of Kyat One Million handed to Dr. Aung Ko Ko, the school’s principal.

Trustee Johnny Saing showcased the academically deserving and needy students, children of the alumni, who are pursuing higher education thanks to the scholarship funds they received from the Methodist English High School Memorial Foundation. It was a noble undertaking and the students looked promising too.

Then came a virtual bomb blast. Combative but joyous House Cheering by old students of the Wesley, Carey, Judson and Livingstone houses on the stage was at once raucous and riveting with a hearty participation of the audience below. It was all déjà vu once again to every alumnus in the crowd.

Group photo sessions by class and year – another big must for everyone to participate and to cherish and hold dear – were a humbling but clear reminder that we are all getting on in years but still enjoying life in the company of old friends.

And the Church Service at Methodist Church was solemn and soulful as well.

Refreshments served at the School Canteen, all Burmese delicacies, were plentiful and tasty and enough for everyone who partook of them to give a rousing cheering at the Htoke See Htoe game, a new feature in the programs. It was a truly traditional Burmese game that requires both tact and energy for the participants to make the edge.

The evening of the 6th of January, 2013 – the second day of our historic homecoming Reunion festivities in Yangon – began with all the symbolism that entails reflecting the new dawn of the on-going reforms in the country.

Sparks flew, cheers and applause went through the roof and cameras flashed like lightning when the evening’s guest of honor and the most distinguished alumnus of MEHS Daw Aung San Suu Kyi slowly walked into the Royal Garden Restaurant at Kandawgyi Park. The serene atmosphere of the lake surroundings simply glowed with sanctified splendor.

The Masters of Ceremonies for the evening Cyril Ba Than and Sheila Lao flexed every ounce of their diplomatic and intellectual muscles to keep the house in order. But the sheer volume of monumental welcome and expression of jubilation of the 700-strong alumni and guests was beyond human control and comprehension.

Perhaps, Cyril’s eloquent introduction of the guest of honor when she was finally seated at the VIP table vocalized the sentiment of the one and all. And, I quote, inter alia:

“To her friends she is known as “Suu Suu”; her admirers “Amay Suu”, “Aunty Suu”, “Daw Suu” or “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi”. But, to the international community she is a democratic icon, a symbol of freedom, human rights, justice and the rule of law. To us here in this country, a national leader, President of the National League for Democracy and a member of Parliament – Pyithu Hluttaw.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has all the accolades to her credit. She is internationally renowned for her sacrifice, singularity and sterling leadership – the first national of our beloved country to have received the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, 2008 US Congressional Gold Medal, 2012 Global Citizenship Award and 2012 Global Vision Award, to name a few.

“Recently, I am proud to share with all of you that the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine of the United States of America has ranked Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as NUMBER ONE along with President U Thein Sein in its selection of the 100 Top Global Thinkers for 2012. What an honor! What an incredible achievement!

“What more could I add to this except the fact that she is one of us – the most distinguished alumnus of our beloved educational institution – the best in the country of the period, I might add, my Fellow Alumni and Ladies and Gentlemen – the great Methodist English High School!”.

Harry Taw, President of the Methodist English High School Memorial Foundation, on behalf of the alumni of MEHS, then presented the “Most Distinguished MEHS Alumnus Award” plaque to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Whistles, cheers and applause erupted ranting the air with abandon.

Aung San Suu Kyi showing to audience her award plaque
Aung San Suu Kyi showing to audience her award plaque

In her acceptance speech, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi extolled the greatness of the Methodist English High School which she said might have been “the best school in the whole of Southeast Asia region” at the time. And, as the privileged community that had received first class education from MEHS, she exhorted the alumni to try to help as much as possible to the underprivileged many in the country because education alone is the viable driving force for the country to move forward politically, socially and economically. Her oratory was unique and the inspiration was universal.

Edwin Tin Tut, Secretary of the Foundation, while endorsing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s concept of the importance of education postulated the challenges that we could face citing his experience in trying to raise funding for the Foundation’s noble work.

Dance performances by the school girls, Burmese and Western oldies by Victor Khin Nyo and his band and a lively performance in tribute to teachers of MEHS by our late beloved teacher Mrs. Hein Tin’s second and third generation kith and kin headed by Delphine lent an air of joy and relaxation for the evening along with good food, good cheer and good company.

If auctioneering is an art, then art and artifacts that are mostly related to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in terms of theme and import, changed hands with a good inflow of funding for the Foundation. The highest bidders Kyi Kyi Han and her husband Byron Law Yone (On the right with a Shan bag in photo) took away a lovely painting of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for US$600.

Kyi Kyi Han and Byron Law Yone with the painting
Kyi Kyi Han and Byron Law Yone with the painting

The Htoke See Htoe game winners and the golf tournament winners also had their fair share of kudos and prizes.

And, Dr. U Thaw Kaung, former President of the Methodist English Old Students’ Association (MEOSA) and the Yangon Organizing Committee of the 6th MEHSA International Reunion each received a prestigious Juliet Teoh Memorial Award plaque for their illustrious efforts to keep the MEHSA movement alive. The award is named, for the first time by the Foundation, in honor of the late Juliet Teoh, founder and organizer extraordinaire of MEHSA. More distinguished alumni will receive this award in the forthcoming Reunion.

As a movement, MEHSA has made great strides and notched many an achievement thanks solely to the MEHS spirit of camaraderie we embrace and cherish. After all, for us MEHS alumni, “Quality is our terra firma and Capability is our forte”, as I always say. We also believe in the concept of Unity in Diversity. Let us move ahead with the undying will of unity and continuity to keep the lamp burning ad infinitum.

And, as for the next Reunions, in terms of location, unity in diversity reigns supreme. Cheer on, folks!

Hello HONOLULU for 2014!!!

Hello YANGON for 2015!!!


Blogs Posts Reflections

Those Vintage Years by Mervyn Shwe Tha (Myo Thant)

I live in the northern part of Yangon in an area under the name of Parami; It is a reasonably well to do district, however not in the same league as Golden Valley or Inya Road. Being in my golden years, every few months, it entails me to drive to downtown and draw my pension at Commercial Bank no.3, situated on the top of Sule Pagoda Road near the Port area. The drive used to be under half an hour from my house, however regretfully, with the high or more correctly ultra extensive congestion, making it in about an hour must fall in the category of ‘lucky’. To be fair, the drive downtown has always been reasonably congested as far as I can recall. However, today it is even worst: heavy build up of vehicles commencing from the old War Office for about half a mile in the direction of downtown. Should the four wheelers be moving or trying to crawl, I could reluctantly forgive and understand; Much to my dismay, cars are unceremoniously parked not only on both side of the road, but worst they are stationed at times three abreast starting from the old ENT Hospital (Eyes, Nose and Throat) or the once renowned The American Hospital, right up to the President Cinema: while a single file of cars sat idly by on the opposite side also. Traffic snails to a single or where possible maximum double files, but only in a few places with the poor traffic policemen sweating it out, trying to direct the onslaught of traffic come rain or shine in vain. This uncontrollable mayhem of vehicles is due to the Basic Education High School no.1 Dagon Township, BEHS no.1 Dagon for short, being situated on the one-way Southbound Sule Pagoda Road; there, the hurdle and bubble of picking up and sending of pupils and students to the school on time congregate: at times their portable meals, lunches or dinners on laptops, galore. This school today is arguably the best educational establishment for children from Kindergarten up to the Matriculation standards in Yangon (Rangoon): thus the rush by parents to ensure their siblings secure a sound foundation and jump the threshold of Matriculation Examination with flying colours, to make the grade for entry to the top universities in the country. This is of course in keeping with the old tradition of the previous school management, which they religiously followed. The BEHS no.1 (Dagon) was born on 14th April, 1965 when it was nationalized by then, New Burmese Government. Prior that, it was known as the Methodist English High School (MEHS) and the Principal was Mrs. Logie, who nurtured all her charge to be well groomed educational wise and no need bother to enquire which school stood first in the country. It’s students securing the prestigious first position in Burma (Myanmar) in the fearlessly contested yearly Matriculation Examination, and the pass rates were second to none also for General Certificate of Education ‘O Level’ set by the University of London: Some years we did stood second, but a rarity to be sure. Since those bygone-era our school was a beacon of stellar education, gestetnering top nosh students in Burma (Myanmar) who also turned out to be a member of a very selective well-refined brigade, a cut above the rest, one might say. Most of its alumni holding positions of prominence in business and Governmental bureaucracies: also doing well for those who are abroad too, believe it or not, till this very day, of which I am rather proud to admit. Our MEHS had excellent well-qualified teachers, they were renowned for being well versed in respective subjects they taught and be able to put across the educational message to their pupils and students in classes: The teachers and the prefects were fine tooth combed selected and high degree of discipline ruled over the school, maintaining motivation, discipline, calm and order. Even till this very day, should one enquire which school we attended, the mention of MEHS was worth its weight in gold: no doubt about that. The school excelled not only in educational results but also in sports such as football and basketball plus the parents and teachers dialogs were complimentary to the hilt. We also had a small medical clinic run by a very professional doctor and a well trained and kind nurse; however, there were a few ‘over ripened apples’ and I was regretfully one, a few of the times only mind you: this will become abundantly clear at the end of this article. There are numerous entries into town, but as the distance, petrol consumption and time would roughly be the same or a wee bit more, thus no alternative but to take the well-trodden route and satisfy my reminiscences at the same time. When I was younger during those vintage years, the Sule Pagoda Road was known as Alanpya Payar Road and it was two-way: our school stood herald, mighty and proud, as it is up till this very day. Each time I passes-by, I cannot but steal a glance and admire our old MEHS building; still holding its granular prominence, dominance, charm and attraction. The Methodist English Church is still there on the left of the school building and according to my best friend Peter Mo Kyaw, who with his brother Marcus also attended the same school, though a few years junior to me: believe the old parsonage is still standing there between the school and the church, which their family attended way back since sixty years ago. I can still see the tennis courts in front, as it is nearest to the road. The gymnasium, (cum) sheltered playground is still standing tall annexed to the main building on the right, entry by way of Sandwich Road (Nawaday Road) and understand the football pitch behind the school is still very solid there. I also do recall the old Indian Bayar Kyaw (fried chick peas fritters) peddler by the platform, selling his wares sitting in front of the tennis courts railings come rain or shine, with his make-shift small stove, frying pan, cut fresh green onions and chilies with small pieces of lime, which we were forbidden to buy and consume by the school, being a health hazard. My pocket money was too minimal to indulge in such culinary pleasures after school, while waiting for my ride back home in the afternoons. To let you into my little secret, I did support the old Indian man once in a blue moon when I could spare a few pyas. Not too often though. Mervyn Shwe Tha (Myo Thant) Posted: 3/7/2015