By Dr.Saw Mra Aung
T he Recreation Centre, which acquires a better reputation as RC in the university atmosphere, is one of the badges of Yangon University like the Convocation Hall, the Thit-poke tree, etc. It sits on a patch of land covering two and a half acres at the corner of Adhipadhi Road ( Chancellor Road) and Judson Road, embowered in shady perennial trees . It is surrounded by the Judson Church and the Panlong Hall to the west, the Arts Hall to the north, the Yangon University Library and the Universities’ Central Library to the east and residences of professors to the south. It is an ostentatious, sprawling post-independence two-storeyed building with a roofed entrance-way open to Adhipadhi Road.
The origin of the Recreation Centre dates back to the mid of the 1950s. By that time, Yangon University saw its hey-day and both the teachers and the students were enthusiastically engaged in lectures and research in the university campus all day long. So, some teachers came up with an idea that it would be more relaxing for them and their students, if there was a recreation centre in the campus, where they could take rest and recreation after their day-long lectures and research. All the teachers gave their consent to that idea. Therefore, the Cultural and Social Sub-committee of Yangon University headed by U Myo Min and Dr. Daw Thin Kyi put up to the university authorities a proposal of building a recreation centre in the university campus. Vice Chancellor U Bo Gyi confirmed it. In June, 1956, Yangon University sought donation from the Asian Foundation to be able to push ahead with the construction project of the recreation centre. Thus the Asian Foundation donated a total of over 8 lakh kyats to Yangon University in 1958.
For the speedy implementation of the construction project,a supervisory committee was, at the advice of the then Rector Dr. Htin Aung, formed. It was chaired by U Po Tha. The members were Dr. Tha Hla ( Geology Professor), Dr. Ko Ko Lay( Botany Professor), U Myo Min ( English Professor), Mr. Willaim Paul( Economics Professor), Dr. Hla Thwin( Psychology Professor), Dr. Maung Maung Kha ( Physics Professor), U Ba Thoke ( Maths Professor), U Ba Hli, U Yu Khin ( Head of the Students’ Affairs Department), U Hla Aung ( Registrar) and Mr. James Dolton( Asian Foundation).
After they had met together for 31 times, the decision to build the Recreation Centre at the present site was made. The design and lay-out were drawn by an American architect in league with Sithu U Tin. The contractors were U Khin Zaw and U Gyi Tin. The steel works were done by Electro-mechinical Wat Co.Ltd, the wood works by Aung Myanmar Co.Ltd. Lighting by Maung Soe Nyunt Brothers Co.Ltd etc.
This two-storeyed building has a total floor-area of 59,000 square feet. It is in the Myanmar-cum-modern style, adapted for the Myanmar climate. At the centre of the ground floor is the stadium. On the left side of the stadium are the women’s toilet, the men’s toilet, the supervisor’s room, rest-rooms and the office-room. Lying tucked on the left side are restaurants, tea-shops, teachers’ common room, the photograph- room, the piano room, the art association’s room, the music room, the dance-room, the meeting- room and a row of eight stationary and photo-copier shops. The first-floor is an open elongated hall-way encircling the stadium downstairs which opens up to the first-floor.
The stadium hosts sport events, debates, stage-shows, seminars, exhibitions and prize-giving ceremonies. The open hall-way of the first floor serves teachers and students as a place where they can walk leisurely and chat with one another, having tea and snacks ordered from the tea shops and restaurant downstairs and enjoying coolness provided by shady trees bending over the roof.The tea-shops and restaurants are crammed with teachers, students, their guests, old students and administrative staff from sun-rise to sun-set. Especially, stationary and photo-copier shops are packed with the teachers and post graduate students who are writing their theses and dissertations day in, day out. The music and dance rooms are always vibrant with melodies of music and sweet voices of the students who practice singing and dancing. In short, the Recreation Centre turns out to be a veritable hive of activity, humming with conversation of teachers and students and echoing with their laughters, shuffling steps and sweet songs.
In conclusion, many colonial and post-independence buildings, facilities and amenities are hacked out of the huddles of various species of trees growing over the sprawl of the campus of Yangon University, which bears different figurative names such as uHaumfawm ( The Grove of Gangaw Trees),jruRef;om( The Pleasant Emerald-green Island), eHomuRef; ( The Island of Fragrant Woods), yef;vSawm (The Grove of Beautiful Flowers), etc. All these buildings have been serving their duties to their maximum capacities right from their inception up to today. The Recreation Centre has also served its duty of offering rest and recreation to the teachers and students for over sixty years. Therefore, we should hail it as an important land-mark on the estate of Yangon University on its centennial occasion.