University of Yangon as I remember

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IM-1 rowing team at RUBC 1973 Jan

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Rangoon University Convocation Hall

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During my last days off, I took daily morning walk from my home near the Kamaryut Hledan junction to the Inya bund north end near the International Business Centre with my dog Ah Te and pass beside the University of Yangon both on the way out and return. I usually leave home around 5 a.m. and it is still dark when I passed the University of Yangon campus. As I walked along the Pyay road, the gates of the University of Yangon were closed as it is the whole day, except for the south gate at the Judson Church which although it is closed at 5 a.m., is open when I return around 6 a.m. This is the only gate that is open during the daytime on the side of Pyay road. All have to use the main entrance gate on the University Avenue at the Chancellor road south end as all other gates are closed as has been for the past 2 decades. Although the senior Staff quarters are still occupied, all teaching Departments no longer have regular undergraduate classes except for some diploma courses and some post graduate courses and the campus is deserted except during the many convocations that are still being held there. This may even be phased out as many universities now hold their graduation ceremonies at their campuses.

I have been inside the University of Yangon campus only twice in the past 2 decades and both were for the convocations of my sons, as the University of Medicine 1, Yangon and the University of Computer Sciences, Yangon were still held at the Convocation Hall at the time of their graduations. The Convocation Hall looked like it has always been although there was a plan to rebuild it at one time not long ago, but was overruled by the acamedicians who have much memories of the Convocation Hall.

The Campus was familiar to me since I was young as my mother used to mention about her days at the Inya Hall where she stayed for 4 years prior to the WW II, during the Britrish colonial times, when the University of Yangon was known as Rangoon University. She also mentioned about the Judson College where some of her friends from Moulmein attended. Although she was from Bassein / Pathein, she and her elder sister Daw Kyin Ngwe and niece Daw Kyin Sein had attended the Maw Ta Lane High School as a boarder during their high school years and she had many close Moulmein and Mudon friends, including Daw Than Mya (Prof. Hla Pe), Daw Kyin Ti (U Kyin), auntie Mya (sister of Daw Boke), and auntie Phet Phuu of Mudon. Those who stayed at the Inya Hall with her were Daw Khin Kyi Kyi (U Thein Pe Myint), Daw Kyin Ngwe (my aunt), Daw Boke (Prof. Daw Hla Yee Yee’s mother), Prof. Daw Thin Kyi, Daw Lucy Liu (Sayar Nyein) and many others who I do not remember. Many were her senior but Daw Khin Kyi Kyi was in the same year although they attended different courses. My father attended the B. Sc. Civil Engineering at the BOC’s School of Mining and Engineering near the University football grounds and tennis courts but he did not tell us much about his college days except about his rowing at the RUBC. He took us to the RUBC whenever we visited the Inya Hall and the Thiri Hall where my many cousins stayed during their college days, and also when we went to the University compound Inya lakeside for our picnics. Looking at the boats and the students rowing at the RUBC brought hopes in both me and my elder brother (my classmate too) to row at the RUBC one day and this led us to enroll at the Yay Kyaung Lu Nge Kandawgyi camp during our 8th Standard to row before we reach University.

It was also during my childhood that my parents visited the Tagaung Hall warden’s house frequently to visit my cousin ko Nyein / Sayar Nyein. Ko Nyein / Sayar Nyein was still a bachelor and there were several University footballer selections living with him. On one visit, he gave me the huge American College Dictionary which I still have.

My father had stayed at the Pyay and Tagaung Halls during his time attending the BOC’s school of mining and engineering.

When I was attending Medicine, the Tagaung Hall was a medical female student hostel first, but later became a B. Ed. female student hostel later. My friend Aung Tun, who rowed with me in the same crew went there frequently to visit his girlfriend (now wife) who also rowed with the B. Ed. team.

While I was a Demonstrator in the IM-1 Physiology Department, I had to go along with the LuYeChuns to the ShweWarChiang camp as Medical Officer in 1982 and on the return, the Yangon combined LuYeChun camp was stationed at the Pyay and Tagaung Halls and I stayed at the Pyay Hall for a few days.

My mother used to visit Prof. Daw Thin Kyi at the female B. Ed. hall on Thaton road at the rear of the Institute of Education while she was a warden there. She used to have 2 shaggy dogs. Prof. Daw Thin Kyi had stayed with my mother at the Inya Hall and she was a character. She used to read 2 books at the same time, one beside the other.

When I attended University at the LeikKhone and BOC campus of the Institute of Medicine 1, Rangoon, I rowed at the RUBC and this offered me the opportunity to walk through the Rangoon Arts and Science University many times as I had to take the bus at the Insein road San Yeik Nyein bus stop on my return from RUBC or walk from there if I go to the RUBC directly from home. When we rowed after classes, I walked with friends from the LeikKhone and BOC campus along the Thaton road and through the RASU main compound along the Pagan road and the Sagaing road and out to the Inya road to go to the RUBC. Otherwise, I took the entrance near the Physics lab and either along the Convocation road to the Economics entrance or through the Student Recreation centre and the Arts Hall / former Judson College and by the Judson church and the road in front of the Thiri hall to the gates. There are many GantGaw trees around the Main Library and the Sagaing and Inya roads and I still have memories of the smell of the GantGaw flowers during the Nway / Hot season and the sounds of leaves dropping onto the ground as we walked near the Physics laboratory still fresh in my mind. During the Moe / Rainy season, there was chanting of the Wut Yut AhThinn at night time near the Inya and Yadanar Halls and I heard it frequently whenever our rowing ended late.

There was the Golden Jubilee festival while I was attending the 1st M.B., in which all Yangon Universities participated as they all were once under the Rangoon University. There several other fairs too and during these times I visited the main campus as visitor. But it was different even from the University life in the novels and articles I had read which have University life as the background. During my time there were no longer regular Hall AhNyeins which seemed to be the regular social life before my time. I had read the famous Kaw Leik Jin and other books by ZaWaNa, Thein Pe Myint, Khin Maung Aye (Mandalay) and ThetKaTho Phone Naing about their student days and life at the Rangoon University during their time and they seem to be more colourful compared to mine.

When I was in the 2nd M.B. and attending Physiology classes at the BOC part of the IM-1, Rangoon, I had lunch with friends at the portico in front. There is the University Sports ground directly in front with additional football fields nearby. There are many large ThitTo trees around there and we used to throw down the ThitTo fruits and eat the ripe ones and take the coverings home to have it made into ThitTo NgapiChet which is very good but I have not had it for the past 40 years. Hitting the ThitTo fruit which is smaller than the size of a tennis ball and is situated over 20 feet from the ground is not an easy task and I had never got any ThitTo fruit by myself and just had those shared by my friends.

I also swam at the University swimming pool which is beyond the University Sports ground from the BOC building. I used to walk there along the Thaton road with the University Sports ground on the right and the tennis courts on the left. Although I played a little tennis when I was younger, I did not try tennis during my University student days as buying a tennis racquet would be a problem although not insurmountable. My main interest in sports was in rowing and swimming as I had done both since Middle School.

After U Thant passed away and his remains were returned to Myanmar for burial, I did not visit the KyaikKaSsan grounds where it was held at first while preparations were made for the funeral or participated in the funeral which was to be held at the KyanTaw cemetery. But after the hearst was sidetracked to the RASU compound and the remains laid in State in the Convocation Hall, I visited the campus several times during which I entered the Convocation Hall for the first few times in my life. There were students and people from all sorts of life in the campus with several students making speeches in front of the Convocation Hall on the front stairs. There were also many in the ThatMaGa hall compound preparing for the construction of the tomb. A friend of mine, who was attending the B. Arch. was there for the measuring of the site for the tomb.

On the University Avenue near the Thaton road entrance is the University hospital. This is where my cousin ko Sein It was when the shootings began in 7th July 1962. He dived into the drain until it was over and later told me that there were several injured and dead university students nearby when he left.

When I became a Demonstrator in the Physiology Department of the Institute of Medicine 1, Rangoon, we were given 7th July special duties around the anniversary. Those on duty were relieved of their classes which were combined with another and had to round the assigned corridors. Students asked why I and other demonstrators were strolling and loitering in corridors rather than teaching, I explained about the duty to them. The next question they asked was: what was the occasion? Students of the 1980s who were born in the late 70s had no knowledge of the event: so much for the history knowledge among our young who are taught white washed history and the lack of the freedom of speech and writing since 1962. I do not even have the accurate knowledge of the events leading to the military takeover in 2 March 1962.

The famous Marlar Hall (it is famous because of the bus stop nearby with its name) is now a teaching institution: National Centre for English Language. When it first opened, the Myanmar name was something like AhMyoTharr InGaLeik Sar HtarNa. As the centre is near our office where our crew change bus departs, others saw it first and talked about the new English centre before getting onto the crew change bus. One remarked when English had become AhMyoTharr. Some time later the Myanmar name was changed to InGaLeik BarTharYat AhMyoTharr Baho HtarNa.

Notable alumni

[edit] Politicians

[edit] Academia

  • Hla Pe: Professor of Burmese at the University of London
  • John Furnivall: Scholar on Burma studies and civil servant
  • Nyi Nyi: Deputy Minister of Education (1965–1974), geology professor[6]
  • Pessie Madan: Indian leader of the high-technology research and development sector
  • Pe Maung Tin: Scholar on Pali and Buddhism
  • Pho Kyar: Novelist and education reformist
  • Taw Sein Ko: Archaeologist and Director of the Burma Archaeological Service
  • Than Tun: Historian

[edit] Arts and literature

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b James, Helen (2005). Governance And Civil Society In Myanmar: Education, Health, and Environment. Routledge. ISBN 0-4153-5558-3.
  2. ^ a b c d Khin Maung Kyi (2000). Economic Development of Burma: a Vision and a Strategy. SUP. p. 150. ISBN 9-1888-3616-9.
  3. ^ Ko Yin Aung (1999-12-23). “Prospects of education in Myanmar”. The New Light of Myanmar.
  4. ^ Rothenberg, Daniel (Fall 2002). Towards a New Modern Developed Nation. The Journal of the International Institute. Retrieved 22 May 2006. [dead link]
  5. ^ “Myanmar Philately”. Tharaphi.
  6. ^ Zar Ni. “5” Knowledge, Control and Power: The Politics of Education under Burma’s Military Dictatorship (1962-88). (Ph.D. thesis). University of Wisconsin – Madison. Retrieved 2010-09-15.

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2 Responses to “University of Yangon as I remember”

  1. My writings / blogs are on google search results! « Nyiwin's Blog Says:

    […] University of Yangon as I remember « Nyiwin’s Blog […]

  2. Terrence Says:

    Dear all,

    I wish to contact the University of Yangon but can’t locate them over the internet. I would much appreciate if the active user here in this forum can provide me with the number and person that I can communicate in English in your school.

    Many thanks.


    Best regards,
    Terrence Chow

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