III. VELDHOVEN, the Netherlands.
April 30 – May 3, 1993
VEBOS stands for Vereniging van Bandungse Oud-Studenten (Association of Former Bandung-Students). It is a Dutch association which includes former students and alumni of THS, FT-UI, FIPIA and ITB living in the Netherlands.
In the early days of the Technische Hogeschool which was founded by the Dutch in the city of Bandung, July 1920, many students were members of the BSC (Bandoengs Studenten Corps), a student association in Bandung for Dutch students, students of Dutch descent and mostly Chinese students who were granted “equal rights” because of the status of their families and their Dutch upbringing. After the Second World War, universities in the former Dutch East Indies were inundated with students of Chinese descent with a Dutch upbringing. Many of these students were also members of Ta Hsueh Hsueh Sheng Hui (THHSH), a student association for Chinese peranakans, i.e. students of Chinese descent born in Indonesia.
The BSC of Bandung which later became Corpus Studiosorum Bandungense, evolved into VEBOS in the Netherlands. In the mean time, former THHSH members who moved to the United States started organizing get-togethers which later evolved into the first TFI reunion in Las Vegas in 1987. This explains the connection between VEBOS and TFI, as members of these associations all attended the same alma mater in Bandung.
The 1993 VEBOS Reunion in the Netherlands was held at Hotel Koningshof, the largest and most centrally located conference hotel in the Benelux region. It is surrounded by lush greenery and has access to hiking and biking, as well as all sorts of indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including a golf course, just minutes from the hotel.
Tan Soei Tjing and Kwee Kiem Han were Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the 1993 Reunion Committee in Veldhoven, in collaboration with the late Jason Jansen who passed away in 1995. Jason was a former student and alumnus of the Technische Hogeschool in Bandung and Chairman of VEBOS. Soei Tjing and Kiem Han who were members of THHSH when they were students, joined VEBOS after they emigrated to the Netherlands.
The 1993 reunion in the Netherlands was a combined VEBOS and TFI reunion of former TH, FT-UI, FIPIA and ITB students and alumni from all over the world. The official name of the reunion, however, was VEBOS REUNIE and not TFI Reunion.
In his welcome message in the 1993 VEBOS reunion book, Soei Tjing posed the question why people attended reunions. Was it to have fun together, to cast daily troubles and worries aside, or for a change of routine? It was all that and more, but the basic principle of this, or any other reunion, according to Soei Tjing, was to be together and to relive and revitalize whatever we used to do and experience together. He mentioned strengthening and renewing old bonds of friendship and expressed the hope that our mutual background, which was nurtured during our years at our alma mater (mother of science but also of friendship), would evolve into a bond that would gloriously surpass time as years went by, especially, as we grow older.
Soei Tjing also mentioned that no ocean was too wide and no sky too high for participants from different parts of the world to congregate in a tiny town in the Netherlands to meet old friends and colleagues. Whether they were motivated by personal connections, interest, curiosity or a combination of all that, the main link was their alma mater and the time of their lives they shared together.
These thoughts were echoed in Jason’s welcome letter in which he wrote that the basic principle of VEBOS was to preserve and strengthen existing bonds and, wherever possible, to create new connections. He emphasized that maintaining this natural bond between classmates and contemporaries, as well as creating good relationships among those who shared the same alma mater, was most important. He also pointed out that this mutual background created a feeling of belonging and friendly relations that was not bound by time.
On the program was an excursion to Keukenhof, the Netherland’s most popular tourist destination famous for its glorious display of spring flowers. Participants were treated to dinner at Sarinah’s, an Indonesian restaurant in The Hague.
This three-day reunion was attended by participants from eleven different countries: Austria (1), Brazil (2), Canada (5), China (2), Germany (5), Indonesia (11), the Netherlands (96), New Zealand (1), Sweden (1), the United Kingdom (1) and the United States of America (28) for a total of 153. Of these, 73 participants attended the last day of the reunion for tea and the gala dinner only.
The VEBOS reunion concluded with a nine-day post reunion Euro tour to Vienna and Budapest, two European cultural centres, that was especially organized for participants from abroad to enhance the reunion experience.
In an interview with Tjing Bie, he mentioned that he would have liked to attend the reunion in Veldhoven, but family matters precluded him from attending. One year passed before he realized that no decision had been made about the next reunion location. He immediately called friends in Vancouver, but nobody was interested in hosting a reunion in that city by the sea. Then an idea struck him to have the reunion in Singapore. It was his hope that the proximity of Singapore to Indonesia would draw TFI friends living in Indonesia.
Tjing Bie then contacted Singapore residents and fellow alumni Tan Sioe An and Evy. Although Sioe An declined the position of Chairman, he agreed to help. Sioe An suggested that Tjing Bie call Gouw Sioe San, another fellow alumnus. Sioe San accepted the nomination, and preparations for a reunion in Singapore were begun.
A couple of months later, however, the company Sioe San was working for transferred him to another location, and he had to withdraw from the Committee. Tjing Bie was devastated but determined to have another TFI reunion somewhere, anywhere anyone was willing to chair the next reunion.
His determination paid off and a couple of months later, he received a call from Washington D.C. A younger TFI-er by the name of David Liem offered to organize the next TFI reunion in the Capital of the United States of America!
Although Tjing Bie and David did not know one another, they quickly became acquainted. Tjing Bie helped David as much as he could and mailed David a list with names, addresses and other information of TFI-ers living in the Washington D.C. area, so David could form the next preparatory committee.