Malaysian Americans

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Malaysian Americans
Total population
26,179 (2010 U.S. Census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York City Metropolitan Area,[2][3][4] San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
American English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil and others
Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism

Malaysian Americans (Orang Malaysia di Amerika) are Americans of Malaysian ancestry. Rather than a single ethnic group, Malaysian Americans descend from a variety of ethnic groups that inhabit the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia, all of which speak different languages and profess different cultures, including Malay, Malaysian Chinese, and Malaysian Indian, as "Malaysian" is primarily a national identification. According to answers provided to an open-ended question included in the 2010 United States Census, 26,179 people said that their ancestry or ethnic origin was Malaysian.[1]

However, the actual number of Malaysians and their descendants is most likely considerably higher, since Malaysian Chinese and Malaysian Indians are likely to identify simply as "Chinese American" and "Indian American" on the census; thus Malaysian Americans are predominantly made up of the ethnic Malays. Malaysian Americans are growing both in population and in socioeconomic status.

History and associations[edit]

Malaysians have been coming to New York City, the West Coast of the U.S., and Chicago since the 1970s for job and educational opportunities, partly because of political and economic tensions in Malaysia. Although some students later found jobs in U.S. companies, many students from Chicago returned to Malaysia after their education ended. Community leaders in 2001 estimated that the Malaysian population of metropolitan Chicago had decreased to 600-700 individuals.[5]

There are three Malaysian government offices in the U.S. whose goal is to assist and supervise Malaysian students.[5] One of them is the Malaysian Student Department (MSD) in Evanston, Illinois, which covers the midwestern part of the U.S. MSD sponsors several events each year for students in the region, including the celebration of Malaysian independence, the Midwest Games (a three-day sporting competition), and Ambassador Award Night, whose function is recognizing the academic achievements of Malaysian students.[5]

Malaysian Americans have created several community associations in the U.S. The Malaysian American Society was founded in 1967 to promote cultural exchanges between Malaysia and the U.S.[6] Other community organizations include the Malaysian Association of Georgia[7] and the Malaysian Association of Southern California.[8]

Malaysian Americans also have created several educational associations, the Malaysian Students Association at the University of Michigan fosters friendships among Malaysian students.[6] The objective of the Malaysia Student Association of St. Louis, Missouri is to maintain close relationships among students after their college graduation,[6] the Malaysian Students Association at The Ohio State University is an organization that represents the Malaysian student community while promoting Malaysia's unique cultural identity at Ohio State.[9] Other educational associations include the University of California-Berkeley Alumni Club of Malaysia[6] and the Harvard Club of Malaysia[6] plus associations at the Illinois Institute of Technology[5] and the University of Chicago.[5]

Malaysian Americans today[edit]

The Malaysia Association of America, based in the area of the Chinatown, Flushing in New York City, was credited by the Consul General of Malaysia in New York for getting the New York State Assembly to declare August 31, 2008, to be "Malaysian American Day".[10]