On January 13, Ambassador Joseph Yun hosted a welcome reception for the new cohort of 100 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) at his residence. The reception was attended by key officials from the Ministry of Education Malaysia including Secretary General Datuk Dr. Madinah binti Mohamad and Director General Khair Mohamad Yusof; MACEE Executive Director James Coffman, MACEE Board Members, parliamentarians, diplomats, corporate organizations, alumni, and media.
In his remarks, Ambassador Yun thanked the Ministry of Education for their support and partnership in the ETA program, which has become the fourth-largest program worldwide. He further added that the ETA program is a direct result of discussions between Prime Minister Najib and President Obama, and is designed to help strengthen U.S.-Malaysia relations and improve mutual understanding. Ambassador Yun urged the newly arrived ETAs to dedicate themselves to helping teach English in schools throughout Terengganu, Johor, Pahang, Perak, and for the first time, in Sabah and Sarawak.
Datuk Madinah in her remarks thanked the ETAs for their commitment towards the ETA program and noted that, as Malaysia strives to be a developed nation by 2020, it is imperative for teachers and students in Malaysia to be more competent in the use of the English language. She hopes that the ETAs can translate their language skills to their students through extra-curricular clubs and activities conducted in English while also gaining a deep understanding of Malaysian culture by living and working in towns and cities throughout the six states. Datuk Madinah also stressed the importance of placing native English speaking teachers in rural areas, and particularly in less developed areas in Malaysia where English is very much needed.