Malaysian alumni donate to ease Ames’ flood damage costs


Photo: Kait McKinney/Iowa State Daily

Jean Kresse, left, Ashvin Sudhaharan, Choy Leow, and Dr. Riad Mahayni stand with the check from the Malaysian Alumni on Saturday, Aug. 28. The Malaysian Alumni donated $1,000 to Ames for flood relief.

Ethan Subra

The room was abuzz with anticipation. About 150 people, a majority of whom with an ethnic relation to Malaysia, were packed into a meeting room with about 100 seats. But despite the discomfort, all were in attendance to witness something special: One community coming together to help another.

After the immense flooding of Ames and much of campus, ISU alumni in Malaysia saw a photo of the destruction and wrote a letter to ISU President Gregory Geoffroy expressing their concern for their “home away from home” and also their desire to help the community.

On Saturday, the Malaysian alumni, represented by Choy Leow, former president of the Association of Malaysian Students at ISU, donated $1,000 to the United Way of Story County to assist with flood relief. “The gift is for the people of Ames,” Leow said.

Jean Kresse, president and CEO of United Way of Story County, accepted the check. Kresse said that including the check from the ISU Malaysia Alumni Association, more than $13,500 has been donated toward Ames flooding relief.

Also in attendance was Riad Mahayni, deputy mayor of Ames, representing the Ames city government.

An adviser to AMSISU, John Wong, spoke of the sense of community that is so strong among Malaysian people and spoke of the donation as “reverse foreign aid,” saying that Saturday was “a continuation of that story, of that tradition.”

In the past, AMSISU has been deeply involved in the Ames’ community. During the farm crisis of the 1980s, Leow — then the president of AMSISU — spearheaded fundraising that raised more than $14,000 toward a scholarship fund that enabled two ISU students whose families had been impacted by the crisis to complete their studies at Iowa State.