Showing posts from 2003


ALOHA 10 (December 14, 2003)

Dagon Center Shopping Mall

Today, I went to the Dagon Center Shopping Mall to use the Internet. I have been helping a friend who just got hired as a photographer for AFP news agency. He doesn’t know much about computers and so I have been helping him download his digital pictures from his camera and sending them to his boss in Thailand. This is his probation period and it’s kind of important for him to become permanent. I am afraid that it is going to have impact on me because of his involvement in taking political pictures. But if I am of help to changing somebody’s life because he wanted this job very much, I think it’s worth helping him. Besides, jobs are scarce here, especially jobs that pay about $ 300 a month. At the Internet Café, they took users' fingerprint scans and I don’t understand why. It seemed strange. Burma is a strange place anyways. Oh, good news is that we now have the rules changed from our ISP, BaganNet. Every dial-up user can access the censored Internet. Free web mail s

Here is what I wrote for BARS (Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies) Newsletter

The darkness, eerie silence, twinkling stars and cool air on the Lisu Theological Seminary campus in Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin) literally took my breath away. It was a night for a lonely soul to let his imagination wander to an unknown world beyond the stars. A tall, unfinished building on the campus sat there like a giant ghost eyeing its little prey on a dark and eerie night. It was totally different in the living room of the vice-principal’s house. The living room was full. Everybody’s eyes were fixed on a TV screen. Lwin Moe and Saya Waw Lay (M.Th) were sitting in the back row sipping green tea, and relaxing. Dr. Ah Li, the vice-principal, was sitting on the floor, her eyes staring at the screen. The kids were sitting around her, their eyes also on the screen. Some were lying on the floor without blinking their eyes for a second. Everybody was tense and it was at the climax when the disappointment came — the commercial. We were all watching Jackie Chan’s movie on an Indonesian TV


ALOHA 9 (November 4, 2003)

Ode to Insein

Insein. Insane? Your fighter jets keep ripping up the sky above my head! Insein. Insane? Your Buddhist monks start chanting chants when I am still in bed! Insein. Insane? Your Hindus drum and drum on drums and keep me up all night! Insein. Insane? To hear my students speak in class I must put up a fight! Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kayin. Help me! Please! I'm so confused! Reading off the list of names, I hear their "Ha Ha Ha's" and "Hoo's." Hmmmmmm. Uh huh. I get it now. You're not the one to blame. It's me, not you, who's losing it. Insein is just your name. OJ from Canada, Lwin Moe and Bob Winter, fine professors at MIT :-) ----- in front of MIT library Note: This is the poem Bob Winter, an English teacher from BARS, wrote. Insein is the name of the place where our school, MIT, is. Bob and Lwin Moe OJ and Lwin Moe at Ashee teashop, MIT campus (OJ teaches linguistics at BARS)

Min Aung Soe, my roommate in the university

Today is my former roommate's wedding. I had a reunion with my old friends from medical school. It was a happy moment. The mixed feeling is I had sensed that it would be getting harder and harder for all of us to get together again. All of them are working.

Development of my home town

I am back in Mudon, a small town south of Moulmein. There was electricity for about 10 hours today. It was like a miracle. Here is how Mudon has developed. When I was young back in the late 70s, we had electricity all day and all night. In early 80s, when I was in Kindergarten and primary school, we had electricity every other night and all day. In the late 80s, we had electricity all day, no electricity at night. In the early 90s, when I was in high school, there was no regular electricity. I had to study with a kerosene lamp. I don't know about the late 90s because I was in Rangoon (Yangon). When I came back from the States in 2002, there was electricity for about 2 hours in 10 days. These are the development stages of a small town in the Southern part of Burma, about 90 miles from Thailand border. I was amazed at the development of our town into the 21st century. :-)

Today is the first day of BARS

Today is the first day of BARS. There were a lot of students for this semester. We have 543 students now.


I am in Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin) and I visited several places there. Dr. Sikhia from MIT is also in Maymyo and we went sight-seeing together.


ALOHA 8 (September 6, 2003)


ALOHA 7 (August 1, 2003)


ALOHA 6 (July 4, 2003)

Teachers Honoring Ceremony

One of nice things about Burma compared to the States is we have teachers' honoring ceremony. Students show their appreciation to the teachers with a small token of love gift and nice songs. Bob, Tony and O.J. singing a humorous song about BARS Saya G3 from BARS (Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies) program from the Myanamr Institute of Theology singing at the Teachers' Honoring ceremony. Paw Heh Khu, a BARS business student, pinning a rose to a teacher A BARS student pinning a rose to Bob Winter, a visiting English professor

Torn pages from Newsweek

The following is a picture of newsweek whose pages were torn because those were an article about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Newsweek magazine With torn pages on an article about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Bagan Net

BaganNet is quite improving these days in terms of speed and access phone number. We now have toll free numbers so we don't have to pay 15 Kyats a minute to Myanmar Post and Telecommunication. I applied for the Internet access because I need it to study for my online Master degree program from Colorado State University in the USA. Customer Service Bagan Cybertech Co. Ltd. Hlaing University Campus Road Hlaing, Yangon June 12, 2003 Dear Sir/Madam: I have been admitted to Colorado State University's online graduate program for Computer Science specializing in Networking. I will have to start my studies this coming Fall semester. I am a professor of Computer Science at the Myanmar Institute of Theology and to keep up with the new developments in the field of Computer Science, I need the full Internet access. Therefore, I would like to request the full Internet access so I can do my research and Graduate studies. I would like to have telnet and ftp access so I can log int


ALOHA 5 (May, 2003)

Teaching at MIT

Teaching entrepreneurship to third year students was really fun. They were asking me all sorts of questions after the class about how it was to be a student in the States. I think we were able to put them in the mood to do self-study. I was happy to be able to accomplish one of our objectives. Neil, Lwin Moe and BARS seniors Neil, Lwin Moe and BARS juniors

Toll free number from Bagan Net

I have been enjoying teaching lately. It's been a busy week fixing computers at the Myanmar Institute of Theology Library and teaching a lot of classes. BaganNet finally has a toll free number for its users. We can call free of charge to log into the server. Otherwise, it's 15 Kyats a minute from one of my uncle's house or 15 cents a minute from the other uncle. MPT is ripping us off, I guess. The toll free number that the BaganNet gave us is 146. I have no idea what the long term plan is but sooner or later, that number will be jammed. It's a very smart solution they provide. Otherwise, nobody will be able to go online because of the phone charges from MPT. I wish I could go into the communication business here.

Teaching in Burma

I started teaching last week. It was fun with all these kids. I feel my life is useful here. Diana and I teach English at Mon Baptist Church and it's so satisfying to learn that the kids all appreciate it. BARS students are all excited to be back to school. Some of them went on internship trips to several parts of the country and it's so exciting to learn about their experiences. I hope that they all have some interesting experiences. It's been very hot these days. But lucky enough, the place where Neil, Diana and I live has air-conditioning. So it helps. I went to Nyaung Ywa today and learned about the poor living conditions of those people there. Oh, today is Mother's day and I wish Happy Mother's day to all mothers of the world!!!!!

A beautiful evening in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma

Fort Wayne folks talking and relaxing at Say Plah's house. Left-right: Say Plah, Neil Sowards, Diana Sowards, Jim, and Lwin Moe


ALOHA 4 (April, 2003)

A Letter from America

I received a letter from my Alma Mater, Indiana-Purdue University, asking me an alumni survey to evaluate my former professor for his tenure. The address says: Mr. Lwin Moe Bars-Mit Seminary Hill Insein 11011 BURMA The word "BURMA" was crossed out by the Post Office people. They prefer the name " Myanmar ." But I had experiences before in which I used the name Myanmar without Burma and the letters were sent to Saigon, Congo, Cameroon, etc. Sometimes even to Manila. I started to use the term Burma since then with Myanmar in parenthesis. But the post office still doesn't like it. But I can't help it. I had to use the term Burma in some parts of the world where nobody has heard of Myanmar. Otherwise my mails will be mis-sent to Saigon. My formula now is using like this: Burma (Myanmar)

Dagon University

I went to Dagon University with some friends. They had to take some lectures for their Distance Learning classes before their finals. On our way, we stopped by a gas station, he was supposed to get 6 gals for his car and I noticed that the guys from the gas station shorted him at 5.9 gals. Guess how much the gas station is making by stealing 0.1 gals from each car? The situation is if you own a car, you are entitled to 6 gals a week from gas stations owned by the government with a price quite a bit cheaper than the market price. There are vendors selling gasoline illegally with a market price, which is more expensive than the government price. I sat in the lecture room with my friends. The professor was explaining some functions from economics. I am wondering about the teaching style. He was explaining the definitions word for word (translating from English to Burmese.) Students are not taught how to do self-study, how to observe and learn, apply those in life. They are not trained h

Happy Easter!

These are interesting articles about Burma by two Japanese


It was 910 Kyats a dollar yesterday. I was thinking about spending around $500 for a desktop computer. There is a rumor around town that a few cases of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) have been reported at a private clinic in Burma. I don't know how reliable the source of the rumor is. It's the cost we have to pay for the lack of freedom of press. Nothing is mentioned in the newspaper about any bad things. Rumors can't be ignored here in Burma because they have proved to be true in the past.


ALOHA 3 (March, 2003)

Mudon and misc.

It was very depressing to be in Mudon seeing economically helpless people and knowing that I can't help them. Many people who are economically doing fine are those who work in Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore illegally. Our town, Mudon, is very close to the Thailand border and it is very convenient to go to Malaysia and Penang by motorboat. I will write more about my trip and my town later if I have time. Being back in Rangoon (Yangon), I have been very busy lately teaching a youth class at the Summer Bible School from Mon Baptist Church and computer classes at Nant Tha Gone Karen Baptist Church. I read an article from the Myanmar Times. It was about housing project in Rangoon  (Yangon). Asia Express is a local company doing housing project. U Maung Maung, the  chairman of Asia Express said that the 60x80 square feet land plot ranges in price from Kyats 80 million (approximately equal to U.S. $ 80,000) to Kyats 100 million, depending on how close they are to the main road. He al

MIT Retreat

I got up late at about 7:15 AM. I quickly washed up and walked to the bus stop to take a crowded bus to MIT. We had breakfast in honor of the 25th wedding anniversary of Dr. Maung Maung Yin and his wife. The bus took all of us to Kan Daw Gyi Hotel for our retreat. This is my first time to be in Kan Daw Gyi Hotel, which is very grand and beautiful (at least for me :) on Kan Daw Gyi Lake. We were guided to the conference room. Following the morning devotion as a nice coffee break during which we had a chance to know each other. It was really fun playing games before the break. Following the game, it was very interesting to have a lecture and discussions on Conflict Transformation from Dr. Sang Awr from MIT and Dr. Ron Kraybill from Virginia, USA. Dr. Kraybill said that the Book of Acts had full of examples about different natures of human beings. It strengthens us to honor the diversities among us at MIT. Dr. Cung Lian Hup had the MIT calendar for the year 2003-2004. After that, t

MIT Commencement

The annual Commencement of Myanmar Institute of Theology was this morning. The weather was good enough for the beautiful morning, being cool and not very hot in favor of graduates and us with all those thick gowns and caps. I caught cold the last few days and I was still sick this morning. Beautiful morning for everybody wasn't a beautiful one for me because of my sickness. I took a bus from my house to the school to get there a little bit late. I had my cap and gown on in front of the hall just before the ceremony. All faculties and graduates led by Dr. Anna May Say Pa walked in a procession into the hall while the audience sang 'O Worship the King'. The procession was very nice and for the first time in my life, I had to sit on the stage with a bunch of Ph.Ds being the youngest faculty among the old sages. The commencement went well and so did the dedication of new faculty. Nixon and I were dedicated to be new faculties for BARS. Here is an excerpt from the commencement

Busy preparing certificates for MIT graduation

I was busy preparing certificates for this Saturday graduation of Myanmar Institute of Theology. I have become a typist for today :-), which shows the shortage of computer literates in our human resource pool. Helping the registrar, I had to type certificates for Doctor of Divinity degree, certificates for Distinguished Services, etc.

Articles from Computer Journal

I read two articles from Computer Journal and I wanted to share some excerpts here. Professor Dr. Kochiro Ochimizu from Hankuk Aviation University, who took part in the First International Conference on Compuer Applications in Yangon, said, in an interview by Myanmar Computer Journal, that Burmese students are hardworking and motivated to learn. For Computer PhD students, only one thing is lacking in Burma -- a condusive environment. ..... A PhD candidate (Computer Science University here in Burma now has Ph.D. candidates) will need to have full access to the Internet for his professional research so he can see and interact with the real world out there. (sic.) -- International Conference on Computer Applications (2003, February). Computer Journal, No. 108, pp. 50-56. The following is another one. Computer Journal also contains news on BaganNet. According to the report, BaganNet currently has 8000 subscribers and 300 broadband users. The reporter said that the BaganNet service is


ALOHA 2 (February, 2003)

Auntie June

I stopped by to see Auntie June who is visiting from Los Angeles. It was very exciting to see her because I met her in Fort Wayne, IN late November. I met her again in L.A in December and now in Burma in February. It's so wonderful to see somebody three times in three months in three different places that are thousand miles apart.

Surfing the Internet in Burma

I was able to borrow PCMCIA modem to use with my laptop. Therefore, I surfed the web for the very first time from Burma. It seems very nice. Many useful sites are open. I was surprised, to be honest. I didn't expect them to open this much. Anyway, they use Squid proxy server and DansGuardian content filtering software to control our access.


I went to a seminar this morning. The seminar was about teaching English. Louis Young from Cetana Foundation led the workshop. Louis then led the discussion on teaching English.


ALOHA 1 (January, 2003)