Talking to My Malaysian Students about the Election

Hi everyone,

I apologize that it’s been so long since I’ve posted a blog from Malaysia. As many of you know, I ended my grant last week and I’m currently traveling in Vietnam. I’ll be back in the States next week. In the last couple months, I started getting less time to write and, I’ll admit, I couldn’t find the motivation to reflect on my experiences in meaningful ways. I was too wrapped up in the election, in traveling, in wifi troubles, and perhaps in a bit of a mini-depression to give myself the discipline I needed to write. Living abroad is hard! But over the coming weeks, I’ll have a few more reflective pieces on my experiences, and perhaps another political post.

Throughout the year, one of the things I’ve done with my students is give a weekly news update on something that’s been going on in America. It’s like Last Week Tonight, but without the wit, crack research, and entertainment value. I would write up a 3-4 sentence summary of some event, from the DNC to the NBA Finals, to the Alton Sterling / Philando Castile shootings, introduce 3 English words contained in my write-up, and share some pics. I focused on the Presidential elections a fair amount, and easily one of my favorite parts of my job was getting to talk with my students and teachers about the American and (every once in a blue moon) Malaysian political systems. I watched The Tonight Show and checked 538 with my students, talked about how I didn’t like Trump, and I even showed a few my ballot before I filled it out. (I didn’t take any illegal pics, I promise!)

All of us ETAs have a separate Facebook account to interact with our Malaysian community, since Faceboook is really important in Malaysia (random teachers will regularly get upwards of 300 likes and dozens of comments on each post they put up) and we don’t want to mix our political, vulgar, vice-filled American world with our straight-laced Malaysian world. I put up a status on Monday explaining what the Electoral College is and shared a pic of my prediction for the Electoral Map (Clinton elected with 323 EVs).

It took me a while to figure out what to say to my students, but what I came up with is below. There’s so much to think about about how this election will affect our lives in America, but we shouldn’t forget how much people around the world and how much they care about who leads our country.

Hi all,

As many of you probably know, America elected Donald Trump as President on Tuesday. I was wrong in my prediction that Clinton would win, and I’m sorry.

It was a very close election. Hillary Clinton actually had more people vote for her than Donald Trump, but Donald Trump won in the Electoral College that I talked about in my last post. Sometimes this happens.

You also probably know that I didn’t want this to happen. I liked Hillary Clinton and I talked to as many people as I could over the past few months to make sure that people voted for her. Like many people, I am scared about what will happen with Donald Trump as President. There are many different types of people that Donald Trump has insulted in this campaign: Muslims, Mexican immigrants, Chinese people, Jewish people, women, African-Americans, people with disabilities, and many more. If you’re reading this, Donald Trump probably insulted you. Now that he will be President, I’m scared about what he will do to all of those people. I don’t know what he’ll say to Malaysia or ASEAN or the rest of the world.

However, America has 300 million people in it, and most of us don’t like Donald Trump and what he stands for. America has a long tradition of brave women and men who raise their voices when our government oppresses people, from Abraham Lincoln to Susan B. Anthony to Dr. Martin Luther King. We will continue that tradition. Last night, many of my friends back in America went to protests across America to show Donald Trump that we will not let him to bad things to Muslims, women, or anything else. I promise to you that I will do everything I can, as long as Donald Trump is President, to make sure that he doesn’t put you or anyone you know in any harm.

If you have any questions or you’re feeling scared, please comment or message me, and I will respond. You can also ask the new ETA about it when they come in January. I want to thank all of you for for listening to me talk about this important time for the world, and especially, I want to thank students like Danial and Aiman for talking about the election with me and learning more about America. I believe that the world is a better place when we pay attention and care about things outside of our own states and countries.

Best of luck on exams if you have them! If you have some time, you should watch the video of the speech Hillary Clinton gave yesterday, which I thought was really good.

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