Friends remember Phyo

Friends remember Phyo

I often joked with Phyo that he looked like the Buddha on earth, always kind-looking, always smiling. His happiness is contagious, and his words are always comforting! Phyo is someone I’d cry in front of because he emphasizes and his words empower my spirit, and so he does for others as well! But through his always bright smiles, I see also his strong and relentless spirit — no difficulties can ever rob his happiness and optimism — because Phyo is also determined! Freshman year, Phyo struggled with his every breath as we ran by the Charles River because his severe congenital health conditions had prevented him from doing any physical exercises since birth. Before graduation, Phyo had transformed himself to be an avid workout member of Z-Center and MIT crew team. It is his unyielding spirit that bears the fruits of his physical transformation, his unfailing smiles, and his passion for life. And because Phyo’s spirit never gives up, his smiles and his passion forever linger in our minds, brightening our spirit in the dark nights. Phyo never left us, he is always here.

—Di Yi ’10

I met Phyo in the Spring of 2009 during my freshman year. I was at the first training session for Camp Kesem MIT, and I was feeling incredibly nervous and alone, surrounded by many upperclassmen I didn’t know. Throughout the day, the nervousness began to ease, but the moment that I knew Camp Kesem was going to be great was when I heard Phyo introduce himself by his camp name to the group. I don’t know what I was expecting from the quiet looking junior, but it definitely wasn’t a loud, “What Up? My name is Yo-Yooooo!” Here was a kid who wasn’t afraid to be silly, who had one of the most distinctive laughs I’d ever heard, and a smile that was infectious. I was lucky to have the opportunity to work closely with Phyo that summer at camp, and we became good friends. He was a natural at working with kids, and every one of them adored him. He had the ability to be serious when necessary, but could effortlessly shift back to joking and playing around. He wasn’t afraid to make fun of himself either, and I was always struck by the strong sense of self he portrayed. I distinctly remember thinking at the end of that camp session that I wanted to strive to be a bit more like “Phyoyo”.

Everyone that met Phyo remembers him for his smile — seemingly ever present. He had an uncanny ability of finding you when you were having a bad day and cheering you up. He genuinely cared about all of his friends and always took the time to check in on them and say hello. Even after he graduated, he would routinely chat, call or email to see how I was doing.

This, I believe is an important part of Phyo’s legacy — his depth of caring and compassion for others. I aim to be like Phyo in this regard. I make an effort to keep a smile on my face and to be there for others when they need a hand. I miss Phyo very much, and I believe I always will. He’s a person, that once you have met, that you can never really forget.

—Vidya Eswaran ’12

Phyo was a great friend and an outstanding person. I think about him every day, but to keep myself from being sad, I instead try to apply his mantra to my own life. He always knew how to make anything enjoyable, no matter how bad the situation. So when things get rough, I remember him, and it always helps me focus on what’s good in life and what I have to be thankful for. I never would have had this outlook without having him in my life.

—Andrea Schneider