Finding Home

Finding Home

International students face different choices as they consider life after Colby

By Gerry Boyle '78 | Photos by Fred Field

annelene fisher
A talented jazz singer, Annelene Fisher ’08 of Cape Town, South Africa, entered Colby intending to major in music. The need to help support family at home was one reason she decided to major in international studies and minor in economics. She was to begin a job with a nongovernmental organization in Washington, D.C., after graduation.
In Cebu City in the Philippines, Cybill Gayatin ’06 said her return puzzled many of her hometown friends and acquaintances. “I got, ‘I don’t understand why you chose to come back when so many people are thinking of ways to get out,’” said Gayatin, 24, editor in chief of a glossy lifestyle magazine, Zee.

She said the desire to leave the Philippines for better economic opportunities has spawned such trends as physicians retraining as nurses to have a better shot at a job abroad.

Going against that grain, the international studies major and member of Phi Beta Kappa said she had “three standard answers” to the predictable question.

“One was that I was homesick and I missed the warm weather and I didn’t really want to be in the cold anymore,” she said. “Two was that I didn’t want to be living my life out of a suitcase. Three is that it was always somehow ingrained in me by my parents that it was important to give back, especially when everybody else is leaving.”

The real answer: “I already had my roots here,” Gayatin said. “So I think I didn’t want to have to start from scratch.”

She said she wasn’t willing to take a mediocre job just to stay in the United States for the limited time offered by her student visa. Instead, she returned home, went back to Zee, for which she had written in years past, and quickly rose to the top. She loves being back in Cebu City, she said, but there are frustrations—including relatively modest pay for most jobs.

“You can’t help but compare yourself to your friends who also have started working,” Gayatin said. “As soon as they get their first decent job, they can afford to rent their own place. They can pretty much afford to live off whatever they’re making. Whereas here, my friends and I can’t do that. We’re still financially very dependent on our parents.”
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