A Follow-Up to Snow’s Email
Another Teaching Moment

I enjoy several idiosyncrasies in my twilight years. One of those eccentricities is that I will jump at any opportunity to teach. This drive to teach is especially true when it comes to my three granddaughters who live in Myanmar. Last week, I wrote an essay about Snow’s 12th birthday. I mentioned a handful of our shared memories of times together on my previous two trips. However, I remember Snow on my first trip when she was only four.

Snow and I had fun playing games, having meals together, and seeing fascinating places we visited. I’m proud of her and wanted her to remember that she and her sisters are treasures.

A couple hours after posting that article, I received this email. I saw Moh Moh’s name and assumed it was from her, but I was wrong.

Dear Pa Pa Al,

I am snow.Thank you very much  for remember my birthday.I just saw your post thanks for it too .We don’t make. the Birthay party cause of covid-19.When Covid -19 was disappear i hope we can visit many beautiful places..I write by my self and just use my mum account. Thank you for everything.Love you and miss you.

With love Snow

This is my response to Snow.


I love you.  You are everything that a grandfather would want in a child.  You, Ti, and Fatty make my world a very happy place.  There are so many things that we have done together, from playing Scrabble to ballooning.  Do you remember stretching Fatty to make her taller so that she was tall enough to go in a hot-air balloon ride over Bagan? 

Now, Snow, I am into teaching.  This is your lesson for today. COVID is a pain, and it will pass…someday.  But your mother told me a story about when she was a young child during the 8888-Uprising.  She wondered whether she would have breakfast the following day. That suffering made her strong.  So, your suffering will make you strong also.  Both your parents have faced a lot while growing up and are wonderful examples of caring for their children, but they care for others also.

We went to Set Set Yo where your parents gave notebooks and pencils to all the children. This photo is of some of the children.

While your parents gave gifts to the children, I flipped all those little kids. 

While there, I met my great-granddaughter, A Nyal Lay. 

Snow, we are all family in this world, but not everyone realizes it.  Lots of Americans are bad people.  They are called racists. They don’t like people of color or other minorities.  They feel insecure and put down others to make them feel superior, but they aren’t.  They are losers, and they know it. Racism is a dead-end. 

People who are good and caring don’t have to go around singing their own praises.  Your parents have taught you and your sisters well. We live in a world that needs to understand that we are all family. We need to reach out to others regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, or religion.

It is in giving that we get. When your parents give to you or others like at Set Set Yo, your parents benefit also.

Hopefully, PaPa Al will return for our second family tour in another couple of years, and we can hold hands again.

I truly love you, Snow.

PaPa Al

My email to Snow is an example of reaching out to others. Life has enough problems without us compounding them with racism, xenophobia, or sexism. In America, racism, in its varying forms, is alive and well. Many Americans don’t like people of color. Some Americans want to make voting more difficult for blacks, Hispanics, or Asians. Why are these racists trying to suppress non-whites from voting? It is based upon their inferiority. They fear that “the others” will compete with them for jobs, income, schooling, sports, etc.

Let me tell you a secret. I didn’t apply to Harvard for a law degree. I didn’t even try to get in as a freshman in quest of a bachelor’s degree. However, President Obama graduated from Harvard’s law school magna cum laude.

While at Harvard, Obama was the president of the Harvard Law Review. He was also a research assistant for Professor Laurence Tribe. Tribe said that Obama was “the most impressive student I had ever taught.” 

In addition, I never got far in Little League. I wish that I was as good as Roberto Clemente or Hank Aaron. However, both Clemente and Aaron were examples of greatness on and off the field.

Tragically, Clemente died on December 31, 1972, in an airplane crash while helping Nicaraguans in the aftermath of an earthquake.

However, I did master one thing as I journeyed down my yellow brick road of life. I did the dance with death twice…successfully. Randy Pausch also did the dance, and he taught me how to live my life. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” 

So, instead of acting like racist fools, all Americans should think about their actions. Gilgamesh, the ruler of Uruk, a Sumerian city-state ca. 5000 years ago, wanted to live forever. After failing to achieve immortality, he realized that we all are mortals. Gilgamesh stated, “Forget death and seek life.” Do things that are noble and caring for others.


Our actions or inactions in life have immortality. People will be remembered after they have died. Trump made this comment after the Charlottesville riot. “You look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. And I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general.”

Aside from those two sentences being grammatically flawed, Robert E. Lee was a general for the Confederacy. The South wanted to maintain slavery, and Lee led their army to assure slavery would remain. Lee was a loser. That doesn’t make him a great general unless you are a racist.

This is a secret about life. Your life will be far more rewarding for you when you reach out and help others on their journey down their yellow brick roads of life.