My (jm) new job is really great. I’ve been having so much fun meeting students and families as they come into the office for advising about going to college in the US. Every person is a little different and there are all sorts of interesting questions which come up. And the staff is a rare combination of nice, fun, very knowledgable, and good at what they do.
Yesterday was an interesting day. There’s a company called the Linden company which provides educational services, and they run things like college fairs throughout the world. So yesterday they brought reps from 17 American schools to MACEE, where they got a briefing on Malaysian education, Malaysia in general, and visa processing. This was all very good for me too. Then the American Ambassador came over to give some welcoming remarks (my boss insisted on introducing me because he went to Oberlin too so that was fun), and then reps from local Malaysian colleges showed up. Then all the reps traded business cards, glossy brochures and course catalogues for a while which was very amusing to watch. We walked around trying to get the local colleges interested in having us come to their campuses and do advising sessions. We’ll see if anyone gets back to us. A few interesting statistics: of Malaysians, male Indians are by far the most well educated and Indian women are by far the least educated; as a whole the Chinese are most educated and make up 60% of the students going to the US; Michigan has the largest population of Malaysian students- mostly due to a partner program with Western Michigan U; there are about 26 million Malaysians, only 4% are over the age of 65 and 94% are literate.
After all this was over, there was a college fair for kids and parents at a nearby hotel in the evening. This was only for the American schools, and our staff basically sat outside and registered people as they came in. There were 241 people who attended which I am told was pretty good. So that was fun, and I got pulled aside to do a little on the spot counseling as well.
This morning I had a meeting with the Cultural Attache at the American Embassy. Tom met her and her staff at a lunch for Fulbrighters last week, and they were excited to hear that I’m a musician. It was quite interesting getting into the building, I’ve never been in a US Embassy before. Actually, I was walking down the street looking for it and getting worried because I couldn’t spot it- then I realized I was standing under a 15 foot wall with barbed wire and two lanes of the road were blocked off and I was alreadythere. I had to leave an ID at the outside gate, go through two metal detectors, send my bag through once and have it searched by hand twice, and leave my cell phone at the guard house. My guess is that they do this so nobody can take pictures of the inside with their phone for security reasons. Then you have to wait for an escort who finally takes you into the right part of the building. So the attache and her staff were all really happy to have me there and seem like they will have some musical things for me to do which is awesome. There is actually a music school here, so they are going to arrange a talk for me, and they want to send both TP and I around Malaysia to do "outreach" programs. They have these centers all around the country called Lincoln Corners, and it sounds like Tom may be able to talk about his work and I can give a spiel and play a little at the various branches. This would be really fun, and a free way to travel around!
I have lots more interesting tidbits from students I’ve been meeting, there will be more to come soon!