Fulbright journey spurred academic’s interest in ODL

WOU’s School of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences senior lecturer Ooi Li Hsien, a past recipient of the prestigious Fulbright scholarship award, had the privilege of recounting his inspiring and enlightening Fulbright journey.

He shared his personal experience during the MACEE@60 Conference themed ‘Exploring Opportunities in Higher Education with Fulbright Malaysia and the United States’. The event held at the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) premises in Putrajaya on 9 February 2023, was attended by senior leaders and representatives of higher education institutions.

Ooi, an alumnus of Global UGRAD under the Fulbright Malaysia Programme.

This year celebrates the 60th anniversary of the setting-up of the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) in Malaysia. MACEE oversees the Fulbright Malaysia programme that aims to promote academic exchange between the two nations.

Ooi is an alumnus of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Programme (Global UGRAD), spending two semesters in the U.S. from August 2009 to May 2010. The current programme however only allows for one semester (5 months).

Highlighting how Global UGRAD enriched his life

He shared, “I was placed at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I took master’s level courses while I was an undergraduate and that was the beginning of my exposure to online learning as my professors then were experimenting with various online platforms to deliver their lessons. I was also exposed to research and learned up on referencing and academic writing.”

He continued, “The exchange programme has a community service component where I was required to be involved with the community. I took the opportunity to visit a correctional centre and shared about Malaysia. I was also the founding committee of the World Languages Society under the International Office where a group of us, international students, taught various languages to the community. We shared our cultures and the community brought food to share with us. It was a very nice bonding experience.”

Exposure to new insights, opportunities and adventure.

The Fulbright award also allowed Ooi to encounter several memorable firsts – his first snow, snowboarding and dog-sledding; catching the super bowl, NBA and NHL league games; celebrating Thanksgiving; and going on a Black Friday shopping spree. He was able to visit many iconic tourist spots like the Empire State Building, Disney World, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Smithsonian museums.

Ooi is a senior lecturer at WOU.

Global UGRAD is a programme under the Fulbright Malaysia Programme. Applications open October to November, targeting outstanding Malaysian undergraduate students enrolled in full-time programmes who are interested in pursuing a semester at a U.S. university. The scholarship covers the round trip, monthly allowance, lodging and food, and health insurance. Recipients are expected to engage in community service and cultural enrichment activities while in the U.S.

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