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My group was sent to Malaysia in 1972 as a hurried response to Indonesia suddenly calling many science teachers home. The Peace Corps and Malaysia hoped to teach experienced American science teachers Malay so they could replace the missing teachers. They weren’t sure what level of language proficiency was enough but every week delayed meant another week with no teacher.
I arrived in classrooms where no teacher had taught for 6 months. My language ability was not adequate but the students were desperate and we struggled together to improve our situation. These students must sit for an exam at the end of the year and the results determine if they continue or go home.
This is where the recruiting slogan “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.” is confirmed.
On the occasion of Malaysia’s 50th anniversary in 2007 several of us “Old Boys” were invited back to participate in the celebrations. I was able to meet up with several of my former students. It was a heartwarming relief to learn that many had been able to overcome incredible hurdles to go on to become doctors, teachers, business men, engineers, and representatives in parliament.
I was also powerfully reminded of their amazing hospitality and generosity which is beyond anything you could experience in the US. When they had almost nothing they would call me, a stranger, into their homes and offer me tea and fruit. When they had much they would offer it all to me for my use and offer their time as if it were free.
This is where the other recruiting slogan “You’ll get more than you give.” is confirmed.
group 39, Malaysia 1972-1974
posted 2 years, 2 months ago
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