As he works toward his goal of entering politics or diplomacy in his home country of Latvia, College junior Janis Kreilis knows his Penn experience will serve him well.
He will “be taking back a very, very good education, real knowledge, and a very broad perspective on the world,” he explained in an e-mail.
With an American university degree in hand and a desire for change in his heart, Kreilis represents a cohort of international students planning on returning to their home countries after graduation. But for some, the move back might not be instantaneous.
Kreilis hopes to first either find a job working for a international organization in the public sector or go to graduate school — to return to Latvia right away would “make no sense,” he wrote.
“Starting at the bottom there would eliminate the advantage that Penn has given me,” he added, explaining that he would prefer to develop his career abroad first.
Engineering sophomore Roshan Rai has similar plans to explore the world and take advantage of every opportunity before returning to Northeast India.
He hopes to apply his education to address the severe floods that often devastate the region.
“I want to work here in the U.S. or the U.K. for a couple of years, learn about different management skills,” Rai said. “I plan to do a master’s degree, too.”
However, this Mechanical Engineering major and Energy and Sustainability minor only wants to gather these experiences in hopes of helping build the infrastructure and facilities for his historically isolated region.
“I want to act as ... the bridge connecting the Northeast part of India to the whole of India,” Rai said. “I’m definitely planning on going back in the future.”
For others, though, the future could be more imminent than it seems.
Government scholarships are often deciding factors for how soon international students must return to their home countries.
One Wharton and College junior, who wished to remain anonymous because he is in the process of an internship search, is on a scholarship from Singapore that will provide him with a job for six years in his home country following graduation.
“Government scholarships from Singapore are usually issued by statutory boards, which are akin to departments within the public service,” he explained in an e-mail. “The functions of these statutory boards run the gamut from fiscal supervision to residential development to military service.”
After graduating from high school, students choose which board they would want to work for and then apply. This student is sponsored by and will be working for the national water agency.
Though it seems that the scholarship somewhat limits his post-graduation plans, he explained, it has actually given him more freedom during his college years.
“With my future employment secured by the scholarship, I am given a free rein to experience other aspects of college, which might not be possible if I had to worry about getting a job after graduation,” he wrote.
“This has allowed me to spend more time with friends, engage in activities that are meaningful to me and experience what living in America is like — not to mention that grades take a back seat!”
Regardless of when the journey home may be, many students with plans to return look forward to that day.
Wharton senior Cengiz Rahmioglu, who is from Cyprus, is actively involved with Penn International Business Volunteers. The club focuses on helping non-profit organizations in developing countries, primarily Asia, Africa and Latin America.
However, he has always kept his own “very small” country in the back of his mind.
“I’ve always wanted to have some kind of impact on communities,” he said, adding that he feels he has “some kind of responsibility” to Cyprus and hopes to eventually become involved in policy-making there or with European Union.
With hopes to start his own non-profit organization back home, South African College junior Sieraaj Francis said he would like to bring more and better information and communication technologies into the classrooms.
“The difference between my country and the U.S. lies in education,” he said. “This is where we’re going to bridge the gap.”
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