Bobby Burns’ Message…
For Ti Ti

During winter break last year, I was visiting my family in Myanmar. We had the time of our lives as we went on a family tour of part of Myanmar. On New Year’s Eve, my three granddaughters sang Auld Lang Syne, which was written by Bobby Burns.

Always ready to seize upon a teaching moment, this essay is about another of Burns’ poems. This is part of the last stanza, “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” This is a translation of Scottish into English, “Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.” Essentially, Burns was saying, “It would be a gift of God to be able see ourselves as others see us.”

Case in point. I received an email from Ti Ti, my oldest granddaughter. She is not far behind Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking when it comes to IQ. She is going to Gusto University, she teaches English as a second language, and she has been taking Japanese from an online school.

Dear Papa Al,

          It has been a long time since I last wrote to you. I hope this email finds you well. I wrote this email to tell you about my University life.

          The Teachers took a liking to me since on the first day of school. The teachers are really kind to me. I make lots of friends too. About a week ago, there was an election for the class president, vice president, etc. They chose me as a class president. I won 14 votes out of 16. This is a tremendous victory for me. Tomorrow, we will have my first meeting as a class president. I am so excited to meet the other seniors in that department. Also, tomorrow I have a Japanese final exam for the N4 level. I will try my best! There is an online virtual festival in the coming week, so I pull up an idea to find funds and give away Bookmarks, Key changes, etc. to the students. Today, our class teacher praised us for our idea. I am so happy my idea turns out well. I will keep trying to become the best class president and one day, the school president.

          Yesterday, I heard that the neighbour of our Taunggyi house was suspected as a Covid patient. I hope it was just a suspect.

          Let me stop my email here since I have to study for tomorrow. Many, many thanks for your support for my University life too.



To be honest with you, I get excited with her regular emails, but this one was different. Ti Ti was ecstatic about a litany of items. She is a student at Gusto University in Yangon, which is 300 miles from her home. COVID-19 has forced all the universities to go online until COVID-19 has come and gone. In Ti Ti’s email, she mentioned that the teachers “took a liking” to her. She was also delighted with getting elected as president of her class. Ti Ti has been taking an online class in Japanese before she started at Gusto. Ti Ti also seemed happy that some of her ideas have impressed one of her teachers. She is a dreamer like Bobby Kennedy who wrote, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” Here are two of her dreams. She wants to be best class president and someday be the best school president.

Aside from being my granddaughter, Ti Ti is an exceptional young lady. I saw that seven years ago. I was traveling in Myanmar and had a tour guide whose name was Moh Moh. She was my guide around the area of Inle Lake. She had to pick up my itinerary after I left her. We stopped at her home where Ti Ti was on her winter break. I was greeted with, “Hi! My name is Ti Ti. Do you want to play some games?”

Ti Ti was nine at the time. Now, we are both first born, which mean we’re are extremely competitive. However, we played Scrabble for less than an hour and enjoyed the time together. At the end of the game, I started to get up from the living room floor where we played Scrabble. I wasn’t interested in winning a game with a nine-year-old kid, but that kid wanted to beat me.

Ti Ti told me politely to remain seated until she totaled the score. I obeyed. I just mused watching her add up the score. Then her eyes lit up, and she uttered, “I won. I won. I know that I could beat you.”

Again, I never leave a teaching moment to go for naught. I stuck my finger in her face and said, “Don’t you ever forget this. You beat me in my game, in my language, in your country. Don’t you ever forget this.” That day was the beginning of my realizing that I found a part of my family living in Myanmar.

My response to her email was going to be another teaching moment for me. However, merely acknowledging her points in her email wouldn’t cut it. Why? Because we all are like what Burns said, “It would be a gift of God to be able see ourselves as others see us.” Therefore, I decided to write an assertive and funny retort to her email.

Dear Ti Ti,

I was happy to get an email from my college girl.

All is well with me, and Ginger is getting better. Go to articles and see the one most recent article about her.

Now, as for you and Gusto, the teachers like you? Hey, young lady, they like you, because you are both highly intelligent and a very caring person. That student/teacher relationship was like the time we played Scrabble. Now, those teachers didn’t stick their fingers in your face like I did, but you got their message. Ti Ti, it is difficult for anyone to grasp how others see us.

Do you remember the time you did magic tricks for me? I saw your talent, etc. and said, “On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate you?” You said something like 13. Well, you were going in the right direction, but there is a gap between 13 and 500,000,000. (-;

As for the tremendous victory, what? Hey, a decade from now, you will have a ton more tremendous victories.

Finally, you go girl. I am realllllly proud of you.


PaPa Al