Malaysian Americans are Americans of Malaysian descent. They consist of people of a variety of ethnic origins, including Malay, Malaysian Chinese, and Malaysian Indian. According to answers provided to an open-ended question included in the 2010 census, 26,179 people said that their ancestry or ethnic origin was Malaysian.
Malaysians have been coming to the Chicago area, New York City, and the West Coast of the U.S. 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 returned to Malaysia after their education ended. Community leaders in 2001 estimated that the Malaysian population of metropolitan Chicago was 600-700 individuals.
There are three Malaysian government offices in the U.S. whose goal is to assist and supervise Malaysian students. One 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.
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. Other community organizations include the Malaysian Association of Georgia and the Malaysian Association of Southern California.
Malaysian Americans also have created several educational associations. The Malaysian Students Association at the University of Michigan fosters friendships among Malaysian students. The objective of the Malaysia Student Association of St. Louis, Missouri is to maintain close relationships among students after their college graduation. The Malaysian Students Association at Ohio State University promotes cultural diversity. Other educational associations include the University of California-Berkeley Alumni Club of Malaysia and the Harvard Club of Malaysia plus associations at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago.