By Krista Hague
Gilbrethson Imbiri, also known as Gilbert, traded in the 70 degree-days and tropical islands for Missouri’s hot summers and cold winters to work on a better education for himself.
Originally from Papua, Indonesia, at age 14 Imbiri made the decision to study abroad. While competing with over a thousand students, Imbiri took a test through the English Foundation program. With the program only choosing two students to study abroad, Imbiri was one of them. Only being a sophomore in high school, he was assigned a second family to live with in DeKalb, Mo., where he attended one year of school.
After attending school in the United States for almost a year, he moved back to his country and realized he loved studying and wanted to move forward with his education. He decided to work on earning a student visa so he could finish his high school career in America. When he returned to the States, Imbiri graduated high school in Atchison, Kan.
After graduating, Imbiri went back to Indonesia to get another student visa. Almost two years later, he returned to Missouri with his mind set on college. With the help of his host family, the Hartman’s, he applied for college and became a Griffon here at Missouri Western.
In his Freshman year, Imbiri had his goal set on becoming a music major because music was such a big passion in his life. But shortly after taking a few classes, he changed his major to business. Again, that major wasn’t his calling, so he switched to the degree that did fit him, convergent media. Imbiri plans to do something with public relations when he graduates.
Since going to college wasn’t hard enough, Imbiri had to learn the English language.
“My biggest culture shock is language in general,” Imbiri said. “It was not only hard to learn, but also learning how the language can change over time was also challenging.”
Another cultural shock that Imbiri has faced in America is fast food restaurants. Imbiri stated that the first restaurant he ate at was McDonald’s, and since takeout and drive thru were never in Indonesia, it was a new experience.
Furthermore, going to classes wasn’t enough, so Imbiri decided to become involved on campus and in the community as much as possible. He is a member of the International Students Club, a worship leader for the Baptist Student Union, student ambassador and photo editor for the Griffon Yearbook.
Gary Smith, friend and classmate, feels as though Imbiri is a hard worker with many talents.
“Gilbert is very creative and notices things that I don’t see when we are on a camera shoot,” Smith said.
As much as he is involved on campus, he also is a part of the Missouri Valley worship band and is an intern for Camp Electric every summer in Nashville, Tenn. At Camp Electric, American musicians perform and he has met famous performers such as Jamie Grace and Toby Mac.
Since music is a big part of his life, the creative and humble man is also a semi-star in Indonesia. Being the lead singer for a well-known band called Ambai Bermazmur, Imbiri sang pop and ballad music. Becoming a semi pop star also provided Imbiri with great success.
“I first recorded an album when I was 10 and when I left to come to the States, I had produced six albums,” Imbiri said.
Although becoming famous had its ups and downs, Imbiri preferred to stay out of the stardom.
“It was very uncomfortable how everyone knew me and I also never had a social life,” Imbiri said.
Due to expensive costs and school, Imbiri doesn’t have time to visit his family in Indonesia.
“The time difference is usually difficult, but if I call at 11 p.m. that night, I can reach them at 9 a.m.,” Imbiri said.
With music, photography and singing being some hobbies Imbiri enjoys, one of his favorite things to do is spend time with his fiance Amber Stice. While meeting her at the BSU ugly sweater contest on campus for the first time, Imbiri didn’t know that she would soon be his wife-to-be.
“It wasn’t ugly at all that I met her,” Imbiri said.
Eventually, the two got engaged. Imbiri felt that asking Stice to marry him was one of the proudest moments in his life.
In addition, Stice feels that dating someone from a different country can be easy and difficult at times.
“It’s a new experience because he’s not from this culture,” Stice said. “Also getting to know a different culture is really awesome and has been mind opening,” Stice said.
Since Imbiri’s family came to the States in 2011, they didn’t get the chance to meet Stice for the first time. According to Imbiri, Stice has only met his brother and knows what his family looks like from pictures on Facebook.
While planning a wedding that is scheduled for May and going to school and working full-time, Imbiri and Stice have done most of the planning over holiday breaks and in their free time.
“She’s a saver and I’m a spender,” Imbiri said. “She’s hands on with organizing and I’m visual when it comes to planning the wedding.”
Even though planning the wedding is difficult at times, they still find a way to juggle their busy schedules and continue to make their big day special. The engaged couple are not the only ones who are excited for the upcoming wedding.
Garrett Skrbina, best man in Imbiri’s wedding, considers it an honor to stand next to Imbiri as he and his wife-to-be say their I do’s.
“As for my feelings about being his best man, I still can’t believe it,” Skrbina said. “When he asked me to be his best man, I was awestruck and couldn’t speak at first.”
While Imbiri has bettered his education, he has also started the next chapter in his life. As he awaits marriage, graduation and his future job, he can now look back on all of his great accomplishments and see that all things are possible from hard work and dedication.