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College Counselor on Location

Comments by: U Win@Counseling@OCC
Originally To: Internet[strider@xxxxxxxxxxx]
Original Date: Tuesday, September 26, 1995 at 4:16:18 pm PDT
Originally From: U Win@Counseling@OCC

-------------------------[Original Message]--------------------------
>From The Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 September 1995, Page A8, posted by U Keat Win, win@xxxxxxxx; phone: (714) 432-5860.


College Counselor on Location
By Amy Wahl

(With photograph by Tim Rue for The Chronicle)

Before answering any questions, U Keat Win has a few of his own:
"How many people were in the theater?  What percentage full?  How
many people have seen Beyond Rangoon?" 

Mr. Win is not worried about revenues from the movie, which was
released last month.  He wants to know how many people are
learning about what has happened in his native Burma. 

When British film director John Boorman asked him to be his
adviser for the film, Mr. Win told him he would do it free.  If a
movie was finally to be made about Burma and his people's
struggle for democracy, he wanted the filmmakers to get it right.

So in December 1993, Mr. Win took a five-month unpaid leave from
his job of 26 years, counseling students at Orange Coast College.


He flew to Malaysia, where he was on call to anyone in the film
crew.  "My job was to check their work," he says, and he did.  He
taught actresses how to dress and walk like Burmese women.  He
helped the set designers build Burmese villages, boats, bridge 

Beyond Rangoon tells the story of an American doctor, played by
Patricia Arquette, who travels to Burma in 1988 and finds herself
caught up in the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The historical background is accurate, Mr. Win says.  "That scene
when Aung San Suu Kyi walked and the soldiers tried to shoot her,
it really happened.  The shooting in front of Rangoon General
Hospital did happen.  The general chasing after students, tha 

Ms. Suu Kyi is no fictional character.  Her leadership of the
democracy movement won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, along
with six years of house arrest, which ended only last month.  She
is a hero and personal friend of Mr. Win's.  He monitors her sa 

Born in 1934, he is the son of a Buddhist priest who converted to
Christianity.  The young Mr. Win left Burma to be schooled in
India, then came to the United States for his higher education. 
He studied psychology, eventually earning a doctorate in couns 


At Orange Coast, Mr. Win taught psychology before turning full
time to counseling students.  A banner with "Peace" written in
Burmese hangs in his office with a world map close by.  He is
quick to point out his homeland to anyone who is curious. 

Mr. Win's feelings about Burma are no secret.  He supplies
newspapers with a stream of letters and edits a newsletter, The
Burma Bulletin. 

The movie was heaven-sent, he says.  "All these letters to
editors, articles. I speak here, there, at the Kiwanis Club, the
Rotary Club.  All these little things put together are nothing
compared to the impact of this film." 


Most people have no idea of Burma's internal problems.  The
Texas-sized country, sandwiched between India, China, and
Thailand along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, has been an
independent nation since 1948.  Its current military government

Mr. Win says he worked hard to bring accuracy to the film.  He
corrected the make-up crew, the wardrobe crew, the production
crew, even the director when they erred. 

He says he learned one useful phrase for the Sri Lankan sign
painters in their native Sinhalese: "ah-ing-karang," which means
"erase it."  They had no idea what the Burmese alphabet looks
like and had trouble with its various semicircles.  "A little

Mr. Boorman talked Mr. Win into playing two small roles.  For one
scene, he shaved his head and donned the saffron robes of a
Buddhist monk.  In the other he played the elder escort of Ms.
Suu Kyi.  He found himself weeping, overcome with emotion.  "I

Filming in Malaysia was difficult.  Along with snakes, heat, and
rain, the Malaysian government had the film crew under
surveillance and sent daily reports to the Burmese Embassy, he
says.  "We shot under very edgy circumstances." 

He knows the Burmese government will go through the film frame by
frame.  "I don't care," he says. 

Mr. Win's family history is all over Beyond Rangoon.  A tour boat
bears the name of his birthplace, Thon Gwa.  He listed relatives'
names on some of the storefronts on the set. 


Because of his political views and anti-government writing, Mr.
Win has been banned from returning to his country since 1962.  "I
don't keep quiet.  I write.  I talk," he says.  "My father said,
'You want to live long, don't come back.'" 

However, Mr. Win does go back, usually under the cover of night
and always escorted by the rebels who roam the Burma-Thailand
border.  He says he has made dozens of clandestine visits,
bringing food and medical supplies to the rebel forces. 

Once he asked a BBC correspondent what it would take for the
press to pay more attention to Burma.  The man told him, "Blood;
lots of it." 

But when blood has been spilled in the past seven years, no one
was around to document it.  The government expelled foreign
reporters from the country.  That is why this film is so
important, Mr. Win says.  The massacre at Tiananmen Square, in
Beijing, ha 

"My mission is to talk about Burma," he says, "let the world know
about Burma."