January 08

In International Waters: Your Stories


It’s been nearly two months since we asked for your international stories and the response has been overwhelming! Thank you. Working in a foreign land can certainly be the adventure of a lifetime.

Kevin Graham, a 1996 MBA grad and program manager at Intel Corporation, related the following to Marriott Alumni Magazine:

“We decided to use one of our dinner times to announce to our children that we would be moving to England for an expat assignment. After I broke the big news, three of our four children started to cheer and clap. However, my daughter who was seven at the time announced with every ounce of dignity that she could muster, ‘I don’t like England. I have never liked England. I am not going.’ She, along with the rest of the family, loved the time we got to spend in England. I would definitely work internationally again—living in another country shrinks the world.”

Oliver Johnston, a 2013 Marriott School grad in accounting and director of retail operations at CharityVision, shared these insights with us:

MAM: How did you get started with CharityVision in the Philippines?

Johnston: It was through the Ballard Center and Students for Social Innovation that I was connected with CharityVision—a non-profit organization seeking to cure vision ailments in developing countries through sustainable means. I was happy to be working for them, but I didn’t have plans to stay on long-term. So after I finished my semester I left, but then a month later they called and offered me a job in the Philippines.

MAM: Had you considered working abroad before?

Johnston: No. Not at all. I hadn’t considered it, and I hadn’t really traveled abroad outside of Europe and Mexico. My goal was to work and live in the United States.

MAM: How has it been working in the Philippines?

Johnston: I’ve lived six months of this year overseas, and it’s been very fulfilling; it’s been the ultimate adventure. I spent four months living in Davao in the region of Mindanao where there are very few Americans, because of terrorist groups that kidnap for ransom. There was also a civil war happening while I was there. I wasn’t able to leave the city boundaries without outside permission.

MAM: What has been your main takeaway from the experience so far?

Johnston:  I’ve learned that we all have the capacity to do hard and challenging things and that these experiences become very rewarding because of that. It’s been challenging but fulfilling, just like any meaningful experience is.