WASHINGTON: Mostly successful and living the good life in the United States, Malaysians in the southern state of Georgia cherish the country they left behind and remain passionate about Malaysia.
Through their newly formed Malaysian Association of Georgia (MAG), they regularly meet for makan at one of the seven Malaysian-owned restaurants in Atlanta, network with other Malaysians and Americans, and participate in local events where they promote Malaysian arts, culture and cuisine.
MAG president Fabian De Rozario, in a telephone conversation here recently, said the group of 25 Malaysians (the number is growing) last week set up a booth to demonstrate batik-making at the Atlanta's Asian Cultural Experience.
The response was good. It was a very successful event, he said.
There are an estimated 2,000 Malaysians in Georgia, mainly concentrated in Atlanta. In February, more than 100 turned up at the Malaysian-owned Asian Bistro restaurant to celebrate Chinese New Year.
MAG's schedule of activities is packed right up to November, including a Malaysian Gala and members' participation in the Dragon Boat Festival in September.
There are also the Atlanta Asian Film Festival in October and a Business Networking Luncheon in November. In the meantime, members and friends meet every few weeks through the Dinner Club to network and enjoy good food at a discount at any one of the Malaysian restaurants that include Penang, Little Malaysia, Malaya, Satay House and Top Spice.
The group also plans to become a hub for Malaysian students studying in Georgia who need assistance to familiarise themselves with the area and find places to stay.
We want them to know that we're here to help them, De Rozario said.
He said MAG was also thinking of setting up a Malaysia Centre in partnership with a local university that would enlighten American students about Malaysia.
In future, MAG could also be a vehicle to facilitate trade between the US and Malaysia, he added.
This makes sense because Malaysia is the 10th largest US trading partner.
We could put together a trade delegation from Georgia to Malaysia, he said.
De Rozario said Lee Wong, a Malaysian who is publisher of a local newspaper, Georgia Asian Times, was the catalyst behind the creation of MAG.
Lee and De Rozario became friends and thought that it would be a good idea for Malaysians to get organised, just like other Asian communities who originate from Korea, China, India and the Philippines.
De Rozario left Malaysia 22 years ago to study at Southern Illinois, Carbondale, and then worked as director of student centre at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.
He is now director of US Operations with a non-profit organisation called Golden Key International Honor Society whose members are made up of the top 15% of juniors and seniors (3rd and 4th year students) from universities in the US, Malaysia, South Africa , Canada and New Zealand.
He is married to a Malaysian, Jesslyna, who is a business analyst with the Coca Cola Corporation. Bernama