By Kanda Yaemboonruang
AIT alumni, USA Chapter, reminisced the good old days while making new memories at ‘AITAA-USA reunion’ on February 6, 2021. The first ever 2-hour virtual reunion with a theme titled ‘Unity in Diversity’ organized by the AIT Alumni Association (AITAA), USA Chapter, provided a memorable and unique experience for all AIT family members joining the event.
After the opening remarks by current AIT President, Dr. Eden Woon, which also provided updates on AIT and the alumni network, the main host Dhana Pawar, an alumna from Urban Environmental Management, class 1998, invited everyone to join various group activities, challenging over 90 participants to revisit their campus experience. Having graduated and left AIT more than 20 years ago, many participants still could recall their fond memories of AIT as if it were yesterday.
One of the games that made people laugh the most was ‘Two Words of Your Favorite things at AIT’ where the host requested all alumni to share 2 words that came to mind in 2 minutes. The most popular answer was ‘Papa Shop,’ for which each participant also shared their experience with the shop. This shop was once open 24 hours for students on campus, with an owner who would wake up to cook for students at any time, even at 2 or 3 am. Other popular answers included the ‘Watermelon Stand’, ‘Korea House’, ‘Golf View’, ‘Evergreen Friends’, ‘7-11’, ‘Tom Yum’, and ‘Student Union’.
Another group activity was ‘10 iconic spots on campus,’ which challenged the participating alumni to respond to questions regarding iconic places and activities on AIT campus, bringing back fond memories of their classrooms, the SU monthly publication, or even the ‘Snack Bar’ card.
Amazing performances from alumni and families
Many amazing live and recorded performances by AIT alumni and families were presented, including vocal performances by Dana Siangho, daughter of ‘JP Siangho’ of SOM 1991, Onima, daughter of ‘Omar Haider’ of CSIM 1996, and Nusrat Nur sibling of ‘Dr. Mouyid Islam’ of TRE 05; a piano performance by Alisa, daughter of ‘Ittaya Sirivasukarn’ of CSIM 1996, solo guitar performances by ‘Binaya Manandhar’ of TC 94 and by ‘Albab Ahmed’ of HSD 1995; a traditional Bhutan musical performance by ‘Jackson Dukpa’, a Bhutan alum of TRE 03; a poem: Deep Sea Immigrant written by ‘Salem Ahmed’ of CSIM 96; and a bamboo flute performance by ‘Mahmudur Rahman Shaheen’ of Telecommunication 93.
Let’s connect, communicate, and contribute
The chat box was used to welcome all participants to communicate. Some of the participants used this opportunity to share their current contact information with their old friends. It was clear that the AIT network has stretched far and wide, with the alumni living and joining from different parts of Australia, Asia, Canada and US.
Professor Gajendra Singh, a former AIT VPAA, Dean and Faculty member was invited as a keynote speaker. He shared his memories to the alumni, “I joined AIT in 1975, I was with AIT for almost 30 years. After that I went to India, USA, and Malaysia. So, I can say that all my career is part of AIT. When I joined AIT it was a small campus, we knew everybody. It was like one family,” he said and continued, “when I joined, President Bender asked me how I liked the campus. I said I didn’t like it at all, and he was just shocked. I said this was not a good academic environment here. It was only concrete buildings. We needed green leaves, and he said ok you got a job. So, I planted 500 trees and converted the campus into a green campus. I am actually prouder of that work than that of my academic work.”
AIT President Dr. Eden Woon also joined the virtual reunion. He addressed, “I am very happy that after 6 months since our last meeting, here I am again talking together, celebrating together relationship and passion for AIT with the USA Chapter. When I took the office in 2018, I put alumni as a top part of the transforming AIT. Of course, I think you all agree that the top part is the students, but the AIT alumni are right up there.” The president also updated the participating alumni about the AIT Organization Quarantine, the pandemic situation in Thailand, and vaccines for all non-Thai AITians.”
In her welcome speech, Ms. Maria Fe Ferriols (CS’82), AITAA HQ President congratulated AITAA-USA Chapter for organizing the first ever AIT alumni virtual reunion. She also congratulated AIT faculties to have appeared in the top 2% of their respective research fields.
Dr. Sharif Uddin, an alumnus of Agricultural Machinery and Management 1999 and President of AITAA-USA Chapter said, “We are very excited about this event. This is the first time we are doing this kind of activity. Thank you to all participants, and everyone who spent a lot of time making this event successful. Last year, we did a lot of activities. We had monthly zoom meetings, we increased participation, and we increased communication. The goal of these events is to bring everyone together to bring the momentum of the chapter and to increase participation.”
The reunion was concluded with a thank you note from Dr. Vijay Rajput (EE’1980). Omar Haider (CSIM’96) coordinated and directed the entire program.
Moving forward, the future goal for the AITAA USA Chapter is to organize more activities, gather more participants and work closer with AIT in order to strengthen AITAA-USA.