Archive for the ‘Fulbright Student Exchange Programme’ Category

Fulbright opportunities

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

FULBRIGHT programmess are funded by the US Department of State and administered by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) in partnership with the US Embassy.

The Fulbright Malaysian Graduate Study and Research Programme is a grant award opportunity for graduate level study (Masters or Ph.D degrees) in the United States for the 2019-2020 academic year. The grants are valid for the period of one academic year and renewable by approval of the Fulbright Scholarship Board.

Application for the 2019 Graduate Study and Research programme closes on Aug 10.

For information, visit

The Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) programme is a nine-month, non-degree programme funded by the US Department of State.

FLTA provides young teachers of English as a Foreign Language the opportunity to refine their teaching skills and broaden their knowledge of American culture and customs, while also strengthening their foreign language instruction at US colleges and universities, where they serve as teaching assistants for their native language.

The application for the 2019 FLTA Exchange programme closes on Aug 23.

For information, visit
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Teaching and cultural experience

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018
Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir (centre, with blue scarf) sharing a light moment with some of the ETAs.

EXPERIENCING a different culture through educational and cultural exchange will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and those around you.

It will also deepen knowledge of foreign cultures and strengthen international relations.

This is the journey ahead for 100 American college graduates who are here in Malaysia for a 10-month lifetime experience under the Fulbright English Language Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme.

They will get the opportunity to work as assistants to English teachers in secondary schools in selected districts in Kedah, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak and a newly added state, Malacca.

For them, leaving the familiar behind and plunging into the unknown show their commitment to understanding other people and cultures, and learn about the world in a way that books, school assignments and a professional career cannot provide.

Most of them are so eager to develop leadership skills, self-confidence and a greater understanding of the complexities of other cultures around them.

From left: Emily Zapinski, Nathan Mathai, Pashoua Vang and Dustin Vessey.

Dustin Vessey, from Phoenix, Arizona, said participating in the programme would be a wonderful opportunity to explore the Malaysian student life, learn more about the diverse cultures of the people, make new friends and study the environment around him.

“I am excited to be here. I hope that every day is a new adventure while I am here. I want to be a part of the people here ­— getting to know not only the locals but the education methods and everything in between with food included,” said the 22-year-old chap.

Vessey graduated in political science from Yale University. He said he equipped himself with learning the Chinese language for this programme.

“I know that in Malaysia, there are three main races, and to be able to speak in Chinese will help me communicate with the locals.

“As for the lesson plans, it will have to depend on the school as I will work with their English Language teachers,” said Vessey, who is attached to a secondary school in Jerantut, Pahang.

Nathan Mathai, 23, from Dallas, Texas, said he applied for the programme after he heard a lot of good things from his friends who joined the ETA progamme two years ago.

“This is the best thing ever for me to be able to teach abroad and educate students in a fun way. I used to get involved in TED Talks and I know the importance of speaking comfortably in English in front of other people. Thus, I want to bring that element into the lesson plan,” said Mathai, who loves diving.

He said he would like to explore the food and maybe do a little bit of cooking besides diving during his stint in Terengganu.

“As a teacher, I will be able to meet the locals on intimate levels. I can ask them about interesting places to eat, visit or spend a leisurely afternoon together. Maybe parents will invite me to their homes for dinner or a local party,” he hoped.

Pashoua Vang, 26, from Minnesota, who graduated in Global Studies and Asian Languages and Literature, hopes to broaden her perspective when teaching abroad.

“Making a life for yourself in a situation like this will force you to take the reigns constantly. Not to mention, you will be responsible for a roomful of students. We, as teachers, must learn to relate to students in a new way. Teaching in a new culture will stimulate new ideas for me.”

Vang said being in Kuala Perlis will be a little scary, but exciting at the same time, because students are mainly shy about speaking in English, which she hopes to change by the end of the programme.

“I want to build their confidence and, hopefully, they will teach me how to speak in Malay along the way. It is like a win-win situation for us,” she said.

Since she enjoys art and craft, she would incorporate the elements into her teaching methods.

Emily Zapinski, 23, from Dallas, Texas, said English is important as an international language and being able to speak it would improve people’s lives and opportunities.

The Business Management graduate from University of Alabama said learning a new language will only be possible through practice and exposure.

“A main component of teaching English abroad will be having conversations with people and helping them have conversations with each other.

“As for me, being out of my country can be just as rewarding as I get to be involved in a community development project as well.

“It’s a great way to share your skills and discover talents and passions you never even knew you had,” said Zapinski, who is teaching in Alor Star, Kedah.

Present at the event were United States ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir and the Embassy of the United States of America Counselor for the Public Affairs Bradley A. Hurst.

Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir (centre) hosted a reception for 100 American Fulbright English Teaching Assistants in Kuala Lumpur. PIC BY AIZUDDIN SAAD

The Malaysian ETA programme has been around for 11 years, with around 10 to100 graduates taking part each year. They are selected through a rigorous annual competition among America’s brightest young university graduates.

ETAs are assigned to schools for 10 months, where they work under the supervision of qualified Malaysian teachers to enrich the schools’ English language instruction.

They also organise school clubs, sports teams, English camps and other extra-curricular activities, all geared toward helping students develop greater interest and ability in using spoken English to express themselves.

Living in Malaysian communities and having close daily interaction with students, teachers and residents provide the young Americans with an in-depth cultural experience, which can be both enriching and unforgettable.

In addition, Malaysian students can benefit from interacting with native English speakers and learn first-hand about Americans and their culture.

The programme has been successful that both governments recently extended the programme for another three years.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Engaging in unique lessons

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Teaching assistants under the Fulbright programme return home after helping students in rural schools with their English proficiency.

THE 2017 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) programme came to a close recently, with participants saying goodbye to Malaysia. From January next year until 2020, 300 more will come to help students in rural schools improve their English proficiency.

Before the ETAs came, we were not brave enough to speak English, shares SMK Ibrahim Fikri’s Nielya Natasya Nadhirah Nizam.

Students in the Terengganu school, she explains, didn’t speak English in class or at home, and so, were not confident in using the language.

“We want to keep improving. Even though we still use broken English, at least we have the courage to speak it now.”

On Oct 30, the ETAs and their students performed, and set up booths to showcase their experiences, in Putrajaya. During the three-hour event, 98 ETAs who participated in the programme this year, received their certificates.

The ETAs are fresh graduates from American universities who have gone through a rigorous selection process to serve in secondary schools in Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Perak, Sabah and Sarawak, for 10 months.

The global programme conducted in 67 countries, is managed by the Malaysian American Commission on Educational Exchange (Macee) here. Malaysia runs the third largest Fulbright ETA Programme, behind Germany and South Korea.

ETA Nancy Mangels, who was posted to SMK Orang Kaya Haji, Pahang, thanked the students and schools for supporting them.

Delivering her speech in Bahasa Malaysia, Mangels shares how the experience has changed the ETAs’ lives forever.

“We learnt to survive the heat, and to tell you about our culture. Hopefully you’ve learnt something from us, because we’ve definitely learnt from you. Even though we are leaving, this relationship will continue from afar.”

Fellow ETA, Sophia Ng who went to SMK Idris Shah, Perak, says as a person of colour living in New York City, she relates to Malaysians.

“I learnt to eat with my hands, wear a tudung (headscarf), and play traditional games. You let me be part of your Mid-Autumn Festival and Deepavali celebrations. We sang old One Direction songs, laughed and ate. It’s the simple, unanticipated moments that are the most special. We are as diverse there as you are here.”

Macee executive director Dr James Coffman said all ETAs are vetted at university, and national levels. They are also screened by the relevant authorities here.

“We don’t just look at their experiences but we speak to them and get to know them. We do the best we can to make sure that they will do a good job here.”

While most ETAs are without prior teaching experience, they are enthusiastic, innovative, and confident, young people who can motivate local students to improve their use and command of the language.

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Teaching English through drama

Friday, April 14th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: American teacher Nathan Stauffer ignites passion for English among his students here through drama.

Stauffer hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylva­nia. He has been serving as an English tea­ching assistant at SMK Sungai Ranggam in Kampung Gajah, Perak, since January.

“In addition to studying to be a teacher while in college, I acted in a lot of theatre. So coming to Malaysia, I thought that one way to introduce my students to English is through drama,” he said in an interview.

“I’m trying to get them to create their own drama and hopefully by the end of the year, put on a performance for the school.”

Given that many of the students, aged between 15 and 17, have never seen a live theatre performance, Stauffer, 22, took the initiative to organise a trip to Kuala Lumpur to watch one.

He won a grant from the US Embassy and took 74 students to see Mud: Our Story of Kuala Lumpur last weekend.

Mud is a production in English but it’s about Malaysian culture and history. So it helped the students learn about their own culture while teaching them English.”

Mud, a production about the birth of the capital city, has been staged for three years at Panggung Bandaraya here and will end its run on April 30.

Stauffer, who graduated from the Univer­sity of Pennyslvania last year, is part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant programme. The 10-month fellowship places American teachers in Malaysian schools with low or mid-level English proficiency.

He admitted that it was a challenge trying to communicate with the students and he has to think of creative ways to get his lessons across.

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An exciting teaching placement

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Teaching assistants under the Fulbright programme arrive in Malaysia to help teach English in schools.

COMING back to Malaysia was all Shins St Germain could think about after she went back to the United States (US) in 2016 following a 10-month stint as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA).

In January this year, she returned with 97 American graduates to carry out their mission as ETAs, who foster a strong command and a love for the English language among school students in Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Perak, Sabah and Sarawak.

St Germain, 23, is heading back to SMK Sri Nangka in Tuaran, Sabah, the same school she taught in last year.

She reapplied for the programme as she is determined to improve what the school has to offer as well as to be with her students again.

“Towards the end of last year, I had many ideas and projects that I wanted to implement in my school, but there wasn’t enough time.

“So I decided to come back to continue working on the projects which I know will be great for the students,” she said.

Recalling her past year, she said all favourite memories revolved around her students.

“They are incredible students. Leaving them was hard and one of them even cried!

“It just felt so great to truly connect with them,” she said.

St Germain said her time as an ETA last year had helped her grow as an individual.

“I became more confident in myself,” she said.

St Germain carried out English camps, speaking workshops and learning through karaoke last year.

Also a returning ETA, Nancy Mangels, 23, will be conducting classes at SMK Orang Kaya Haji in Kuala Lipis, Pahang for the second year in a row.

“I’m so excited to be back and so are my students. They have been keeping in touch with me since I left last year,” she said.

She described her experience last year as “awesome”.

“I love my students. They bring so much enthusiasm and excitement to the classroom,” she said.

She is planning to conduct more English camps, language learning games, speaking activities, sporting events and drama sessions for her students this year.

The ETAs are the 11th batch of ETAs who have signed up for the programme, which started in Terengganu in 2006.

The programme is administered jointly by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange and the Education Ministry with volunteers sent to Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Perak, Sabah and Sarawak.

Nicole Young, 23, is here for the first time and is teaching at SMK Parit Panjang Sik, Kedah, for the next 10 months.

She is hoping to use fun actives such as sports and singing to “switch things up” in order to enhance the learning process.

“Having been a student myself, I know that having classes within a confined hall is not enough to spark interest.

“I want to make sure my students get the most out of every day I spend with them,” she said.

Young wants to get to know the people, their culture and learn from the community.

“I’ll just go with the flow as I know this year will bring a rich experience.

“I also hope to be able to impact my students’ lives and the community during my time there,” she said.

Also joining the programme for the first time is Joey Wiley, 23, who will be based at SMK Megat Dewa at Kodiang, Kedah.

Wiley who was previously an exchange student at Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2014, said he was keen to work with students on discovering their passions and expressing themselves freely.

“I would also love to use Malaysia’s traditional music along with western music to bridge the cultural gap among us,” he said.

Speaking at the ETA reception, US ambassador-designate to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir said she was pleased to see the excitement and enthusiasm shown by the ETAs.


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Fulbright continues to shine

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

IT has been 10 years since she last visited Malaysia, and Mary E. Kirk is overjoyed to be back again.

Besides holding discussions and attending meetings on the US Fulbright programme, she had some things to update herself on – Malaysian cuisine!

As director of the Academic Exchange Programmes office in the US State Department’s Educational and Cultural Affairs bureau, Kirk heads the worldwide Fulbright Programme.

Over the years, Fulbright has grown not only in the US but in partner countries as well. It was first established in 1946 by Arkansas senator J. William Fulbright and reached Malaysian shores in 1963.

Fulbright is the US’s most prestigious and renowned academic exchange programme, with 155 countries involved.

The programme also supports a wide range of participants – recent graduates, senior scholars, professors and higher education institutions. Every year, 8,000 people participate in this programme.

The cost, selection of students and governance is shared among the Fulbright partners around the world.

To date, the Fulbright programme, which provides a number of grants to either study, teach or conduct research in the US, has benefited over 1,000 Malaysians.

“It’s a fresh, dynamic and innovative programme. I’m constantly impressed by how it’s been in demand all these years,” says Kirk in a recent interview at the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

An exciting exchange programme

Kirk sees Fulbright as a vehicle to reinforce and strengthen mutual understanding and corporation between our governments, higher education establishments and between individuals and institutions.


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Native English speakers help teachers and students

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

DENGKIL: The 360 native English speakers seconded to schools nationwide have helped to improve English proficiency among teachers and students.

SK Jenderam teacher Fauziatul Durra Ahmad Fauzi said the mentoring sessions with Kathleen Eljeddi had enhanced her confidence and helped create a more engaging environment.

“She provides a helping hand when needed,” she said, adding that Eljeddi was very supportive of her ideas to create a livelier classroom.

“It’s no more chalk and talk,” Fauziatul Durra, 31, said, adding that action songs and multimedia usage were utilised.

Mohamed Suhairie Jamaluddin, 32, said he was apprehensive to speak English initially but now his confidence had grown.

Both the Malaysian teachers noticed a difference in their pupils’ performance as well.

The 40-year-old Eljeddi, an American, said the pupils had also shown more confidence to speak in English.

She said the programme began in SK Jenderam last year and “we try to keep the same teachers so that we can monitor their progress too”.

Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the 360 mentors, who came from countries such as the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, were here to coach local teachers nationwide.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the mentors in SK Jenderam here, he said each mentor was assigned to five schools. They would visit one school every weekday.

“They will be covering 1,800 primary schools with 6,500 local English language teachers (to be mentored),” Idris said.

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All game for new tricks in class

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Teaching assistants from the United States will try out unconventional methods of reaching out to their charges in rural schools.

BRIGHT-eyed and raring to go best describes the 100 Fulbright English Teaching assistants (ETA) who were recently greeted by the US ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Y. Yun at his official residence in Kuala Lumpur.

These American youths have agreed to volunteer and spend the next 10-months fostering a strong command and a love for the English language among primary and secondary school students in eight states throughout the nation.

Each of them were brimming with innovative lesson ideas, but for some, such ideas might need some tweaking due to the recent floods that has devastated the east coast and Perak.

One of those who’ve had to rethink her plans was 22-year-old Becca Rudquist.

The Minnesota native, who will be sent to a secondary school in Kelantan, said she is going to go in with no expectations.

“I was told about the floods and I’m not sure if it would affect the plans I have for my students,” she added.

The sports fanatic wants her students to be serious about sports.

“But I’m not sure if the field will be ready for use,” she lamented.


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Rural schools get Fulbright touch

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Ten American youths have returned to teach English in rural Malaysian schools for a second year after an enriching experience last year under the Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) programme.

One of them is Anna Denisenko, 26, who taught at SMK Pusing, Batu Gajah, in Perak.

“The students were amazing. Through activities like games, I was able to impart more in-depth lessons,” said the Florida native who holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language.

Denisenko said her most memorable experience last year was in organising a three-day English camp for girls in Terengganu.

“During the camp, we talked about body image, self-care and stereotypes, and how to break those boundaries.

“The experience was empowering,” she recalled.

Denisenko is part of 100 ETAs assigned to secondary schools in eight states this year under the programme co-organised by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange and the Education Ministry to help raise English proficiency in schools.

Participants of the annual ETA scheme, which started in 2006, spend one month receiving training and nine months serving as teaching assistants at rural schools.

“The programme has received overwhelming response with a number of the participants asking to come back this year,” said the commission’s executive director Dr James Coffman.

Yesterday, Denisenko and her fellow ETAs were delighted to find out that they would be provided with a Chromebook laptop each as teaching aid. The devices, worth RM1,299 each, are sponsored by YTL Communications.


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100 Fulbright US ETAs To Serve In 70 Schools

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

News Pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 (Bernama) — Margaret Van Deusen, 22, of the United States has come to Malaysia to teach English, but cannot wait to help out also with the relief efforts in flood-stricken Kelantan.

“I’m heartbroken to learn how bad the situation is in the schools, how bad the flood damage is. It really saddens me,” said Van Deusen of Maryland who is among the current batch of 100 Fulbright English teaching assistants (ETAs) engaged to serve in about 70 primary and secondary schools in eight states this year.

The ETAs will be deployed to, besides Kelantan, Terengganu where the programme started in 2005 as well as Pahang, Perak, Sabah, Sarawak, Kedah and Perlis.

“We’re hoping to do some flood relief services in the affected districts since we’re not able to start our classes yet,” Van Deusen told Bernama at a reception for the ETAs here.

The holder of a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and women’s studies from the University of North Carolina said she was ready to follow the instructions from the state education department.

What began as a joint effort between the US State Department and the Terengganu state government is now a jointly administered programme by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) and the Malaysian Education Ministry, backed by the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Y. Yun reckoned that the programme had helped raise the standard of the teaching of English in local schools while increasing awareness among school children about the United States.

“The big plus on the American side is learning that Malaysia is more than KL (Kuala Lumpur),” he said, adding that the Americans would get to experience small-town living as well as forging close relationships and better understanding with local communities.

The ETA programme places Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. They help teach the English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the United States.

Another Fulbright ETA, Israel Hernandez, 23, of Chicago, said he was looking forward with much anticipation to his stint in Kedah.

I’m going to use curiosity as a tool to engage the students,” he said of his strategy in undertaking his duties.

“I hope it could spark activity and make it (the learning experience) more attractive, at the same time breaking barriers and creating a different classroom experience for students,” said the graduate of Villanova University, Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, Anika Manzoor, 23, is relishing the opportunity to continue as an ETA for the second time at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Takis in Papar, Sabah, and chalk up better achievements this time around.

She successfully contributed to the school team securing third placing in a zone-level drama competition besides producing a rap song video expressing her students’ love for the school.

by R. Vikneswaran.

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