Volunteering Abroad in MalaysiaNovember 26, 2012
This January, I am thrilled to be leaving the U.S. for eleven months to teach English in Malaysia as a recipient of a 2012—2013 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant. I have to tell you guys: this grant is my greatest dream come true. With my interests in service learning, education, and Southeast Asia, I am pumped to begin my life in Malaysia as an English teacher and community project organizer.
Of course, one of the first things I did after being awarded my grant (after shouting, dancing, and eating plenty of celebratory ice cream) was research some of Malaysia's many amazing volunteer abroad opportunities. Malaysia truly is one of the most peaceful and diverse places on the planet—three major ethnic groups (Chinese, Ethnic Malays, and Indians) happily coexist in its tropical, ocean-side environment.
However, there is still a strong need for volunteers as Malaysia works hard to become a “fully developed nation” by 2020 without sacrificing any of its brilliant forests, coral reefs, or other unique ecosystems.
What You Can Do:
Volunteer projects in Malaysia can vary just as much as the culture does! Many volunteer abroad projects in Malaysia are related to the environment or else to teaching English at local schools. Malaysia has a strong English fluency program and is always in need of strong English speakers to help students prepare for higher levels of education. Malaysia also has many small programs that reflect the individual needs of the community.
Who to Volunteer With:
This home, dedicated to working to “improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and their families” accepts volunteer applications from those with experience or interest in working with children and adults with learning disabilities that vary in severity and the type of specific attention needed. This volunteer opportunity is excellent for college students majoring in special education or people with a willingness to help disabled children and adults excel within their own communities.
Learn more: www.bethanyhome.org.my
Ecoteer is a volunteer placement organization that works internationally to pair prospective volunteers with the organizations that need them the most. They have many projects stationed in Malaysia, mostly working with Malaysian wildlife—elephants, orangutans, sea turtles, and other kinds of animals that are in need of conservation and rehabilitation workers.
Learn more: www.ecoteer.com
Women's Center for Change, Penang
This women's organization seeks to help victims of domestic violence advocate for change in policy that would better benefit women living in Malaysia. Volunteers are welcome at all times in this volunteer-run, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization.
Learn more: www.wccpenang.org
Befrienders is, quite simply, a resource for those in need. Befrienders works to prevent suicide and to serve as a bulwark for Malaysians in psychological need. Volunteers are expected to have a high level of crisis management training and are carefully screened by management before working.
Learn more: www.befrienders.org.my
For Further Reading:
Photos courtesy of Jerine Lay and Schristia, Creative Commons.