Looking Back From Afar

Looking Back From Afar

Colby's far-flung international alumni consider their time on Mayflower Hill

By Stephen Collins '74


#whereintheworld#right#65%#What does it all add up to? What do we know about the original inquiry—"where do international students end up?"— that prompted this story?

College officials say it's a tough question to answer other than anecdotally. Both Margaret Felton Viens '77, director of alumni relations, and Cindy Parker, director of career services, admit that data are far from complete for tracking graduates who came to Colby from other countries, particularly if they returned to their country of origin.

Viens said she knows of 470 alumni living in 75 foreign countries, but that includes American and foreign graduates now living and working overseas. There are no big concentrations, she said, though there are enough Colby grads in London and Tokyo to hold events, sometimes as blended CBB or NESCAC alumni events similar to those in smaller or more distant U.S. cities.

Records show 180 foreign nationals, including Canadians, who have graduated from Colby in the last five years—more than twice the 84 students who graduated from five to 10 years ago. As the numbers continue to grow, and as information technology gets better, Viens expects it to be easier to communicate and offer services.

But even if communication is improved, it's not clear what type of affiliation international graduates may maintain with the College. Few other countries share America's traditions of philanthropy that help fund higher education and provide financial aid for new generations of domestic and foreign students with need.

One area where international students have distinguished themselves as a group is in alumni networking for finding internships and jobs. "They really jumped on it," Viens said.

And it's not a one-way street, Parker said. "There are a few who have been very active recruiting other Colby students into the pipeline."

Among them Krishan Jhalani. Hired right out of college by Greenwich Associates, he recalls being "the first Colby guy," he said. "And I got to hire all my buddies."

Many of Colby's international students remain in the U.S., and many return to their countries, but there's insufficient data to compare. To Peggy Blumenthal of the Institute of International Education, it's not a matter of great concern. One goal, she said, "is to train people who can go home and make a difference in their societies." Another is to meet needs in our own society that our own students aren't filling. She cited engineering and technology as sectors that currently rely on immigrants for a variety of reasons.

"We find that when their home economies get strong, they start going back," Blumenthal said. That's been the case with Taiwanese and Koreans and it's increasingly true with Chinese graduates of American institutions.

But regardless of where they end up, she said, the real value of international students to American colleges is their impact on U.S. students with whom they study. "They're not taking the places of American students, they're enriching the American students' experience."

« Previous Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5