Published: Wednesday March 13, 2013 MYT 8:13:00 PM
US has sent 100 volunteers to teach English in Malaysia since 2012
PETALING JAYA: The United States has sent over 100 volunteers to teach English here since 2012, the result of a chance conversation between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and President Barack Obama.
US Ambassador Datuk Paul W. Jones, in a talk organised by the Malaysian Institute of Management, related the story on how the idea was first mooted when the two leaders met at the October 2010 United Nations general assembly.
He said Najib had suggested the creation of a programme such as the Peace Corps to teach English here, while Obama had recalled his mother's work in Indonesia and his own experience with the Peace Corps as a boy.
“Hearing this meeting of the minds between the two leaders, we got cracking right away.
“The first batch of 50 volunteers arrived last January.
“We have 75 volunteers this year spread across Terengganu, Johor, Pahang and Perak,” he said, adding that another 100 volunteers might be recruited for next year's programme.
Jones said the English Teaching Assistance programme was an exciting new dimension in US-Malaysia educational exchange via its Fulbright programme, now in its 50th year.
He said that with Obama's re-election into office, US-Malaysia ties were set to see even stronger growth beyond its traditional trade and investment relationships.
This included new cooperation in the education, entrepreneurship and science and technology sectors.
He pointed out that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had signed a memorandum of understanding on Science and Technology Cooperation in her 2010 visit to Malaysia.
“We see this as an area to link up our universities and labs to increase prosperity and innovation for our people and younger generations,” he said on Wednesday.