ConocoPhillips Malaysia recently inaugurated a partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange to assume exclusive sponsorship of the Fulbright ETA program in the state of Sabah, home to 14 Fulbright English teachers.
“ConocoPhillips is a very important U.S. company in Sabah, and it takes seriously its corporate social responsibility to help the communities and the young people of Sabah,” said U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir.
ETAs are generally recent graduates from American universities who serve as English teaching assistants in national secondary schools (grades 7-12) across Malaysia for a 10-month period. The Malaysia ETA program was launched in 2006, and the first 10 Fulbright teachers were placed in the state of Terengganu from 2006 to 2011. To supplement the existing curriculum, ETAs have at least 25 contact hours with their students each week. To date the program has impacted tens of thousands of Malaysian students.
“The ETA program is an opportunity to show my students different ways in which they can use English and relate to American culture. It is so rewarding to see them open up to me as we discover things we have in common! I cherish the opportunities to expand my knowledge of Sabahan culture and to share my experiences as an American.“
—Rae Fadlovich, Fulbright English teacher
“We recognize that the most effective corporate support to local communities is often achieved through strategic partnerships with organizations that serve the community directly, particularly on programs which have lasting social impact,” said ConocoPhillips Malaysia President David Hendicott. “We’re delighted to be collaborating with the U.S. Embassy through our exclusive sponsorship of the 14 ETAs in the Malaysian state of Sabah.
“This is ConocoPhillips’ first year of ETA sponsorship in what we hope will become a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with Sabah schools, students and communities. We’ve been so impressed with the enthusiasm of the ETAs and students, inside and outside the classroom. They’re building a strong foundation for hundreds of children to enjoy a brighter future with skills, ideas and possibilities which weren’t previously open to them.”
ETAs have been placed in mainly rural Sabah schools to encourage young Malaysians to speak English with confidence. Eleven of the Sabah ETAs and their students recently joined a U.S. Embassy-sponsored event at the Sabah State Library celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.
“To have an ETA in our school is a good thing because those who don't have confidence to speak in English will be able to gather their confidence and speak in front of Miss Rae. As a student, I'm sure that all of our students are thankful for this program.“
—Glory, Malaysian student
“We hope these students were inspired to learn more about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and to pursue their dreams. The Sabah ETAs, with ConocoPhillips’ generous support, are helping them realize those dreams and see what’s possible when they speak English and learn about another world and culture on the other side of the globe,” Lakhdir said.
Fulbright English teachers in Malaysia
In 1945, Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill in Congress that called for using surplus war property to fund the “promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.” The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
The English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program places Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to assist local teachers while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. Each year 100 ETAs are placed throughout Malaysia to teach, coach sports, organize camps and conduct extracurricular activities in support of English learning.