#9 Khine Ngwe Aung (WGH 75-76)

For a young Burmese woman the notion of studying in England was a far-fetched dream, but one that came true for me and for which I am thoroughly grateful.

In 1974 I arrived in England to study dietetics on a scholarship. It was a culture shock but the support I received by the scholarship committee made things easier. It was only in 1975 that I first visited William Goodenough House where my cousin Dr Khin Saw Khine was staying. I remember feeling at home and rather attracted to the multicultural environment of the College. There was a sense of companionship created by the presence of all the students from different countries. After that visit I promptly asked the British Council Liaison Officer attached to my scholarship if I would be able to apply to stay at William Goodenough House. I cannot recall the exact date, but very soon after, I was given accommodation and my journey at William Goodenough House began.

My fondest memory of my stay at William Goodenough House was a visit by the Queen of England, Patron of the College, on the 5 February 1975. From what I can vaguely recall, it was the opening of an annex at William Goodenough House and I was selected along with other international students to represent Burma. Never had I thought that I would be in the presence of the Queen or even shake her hand. The photographer took a picture of that moment just before I was to shake the Queen’s hand. It was a culminating moment for me as a 27 year old and deep in my heart I wondered whether I would ever afford to provide my children the opportunity to experience the education and cultural environment in London and William Goodenough House. It was a silent but hopeful dream.

As a family we left Burma in 1990 to South Africa due to a political crisis. We subsequently moved between South Africa and Singapore for work. In the midst of this movement I always strived to provide my children with the best education and support whilst they were at school. Occasionally, I would speak about my time in London and William Goodenough House when they asked or I reminisced. In 2019 my son applied for a postgraduate master’s programme in Public Health at various universities in London. He has been subsequently accepted into the Masters in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for 2020/21 and has applied for residence at Goodenough College.

Today that silent but hopeful dream has come full circle and I am thrilled at the possibility that the narrative of my journey at Goodenough College will continue through my son.