‘The Overseas Fabulous Pinay: a modern Filipina’s handbook on how to thrive abroad’ is a unique and rather brilliant read, which landed on the bestsellers list. Donna Kuenzler penned this comprehensive, easy-to-read and light-hearted handbook written especially for professional Filipino women.
Have you ever wondered what it takes for someone to live abroad? If you are moving overseas, do you know how to plan your move? Where do you start? And if you are already living abroad, how can you make your life more meaningful and fun? If you are seeking answers to any of the questions above, this book is for you!
The book draws from the author’s personal experience from years of living overseas across three continents, four countries and five cities. It is full of insight and real tips on to survive life abroad while being confident, sophisticated, responsible and happy—the embodiment of an Overseas Fabulous Pinay.
Donna Kuenzler is not only an award winning bestselling author she is also a thought leader spearheading digital transformation for a Swiss Fortune 500 company. We were thrilled when she took time out of her very busy schedule to talk to us about her book and what’s next for this visionary author.
You are a well-known and passionate advocate for women’s empowerment, education, and promotion of the welfare of foreign workers. How did writing ‘The Overseas Fabulous Pinay,’ which has been super successful, factor into the work you do in that arena?
My goal with writing the Overseas Fabulous Pinay book is to give back by sharing my knowledge and years of overseas experience to educate, empower and promote the welfare of foreign workers. The book is really the culmination of my advocacy work, after years of reflection that I can no longer be satisfied with one-off donations or limited volunteer work. I truly believe that my book delivered as the content is very useful, relatable, timeless and something that you can refer to more than once depending on the topic or which phase one is in his/her overseas journey.
My book and the awards it has achieved has helped to raise my profile both as an author and as an advocate. My hope is that it will continue to touch lives and open doors of opportunities for more projects and collaborations that will serve my advocacies.
‘The Overseas Fabulous Pinay’ draws from your personal experience, making it both timeless and impactful. Can you talk about one of your experiences, and how it can help people who are moving abroad right now?
One of the things that I covered in my book is on making connections and harnessing the power of one’s network.
In my own experience, whenever I’m planning to move to another country- right from the very exploratory phase, I always found it useful to tap into my current network to find connections in my target country so I can gain relevant knowledge, build relationships and have a resource for any kind of help that I might need. And indeed my connections have been so valuable in my journey from providing up to date information, practical tips, gaining new friends, finding my community, learning about job opportunities and more. One fact that I can share: I learned about 70% of the roles that I had throughout my overseas career through my network.
Remember, it all starts by asking your current network with, “Do you know anyone based in (insert city/country) that you can connect me with?” Once you are connected, it is then up to you to make that connection work for you.
This is a phenomenal book, but writing a book is a major undertaking. What made you want to share your story and the tools you learned with the world?
I really wanted to help and give back in my own special way.
I have been living overseas for more than 20 years now and have met many people in diaspora like me. While some tend to cruise through life, I also met some who have had struggles and rough starts. In addition, there are also many horror stories in the news about foreign workers being maltreated and taken advantage of.
Particularly in my home country, the Philippines, where working abroad is more of a necessity rather than by choice, around 2 million* Filipinos leave to work abroad every year. Most of these people do not have any prior experience of living overseas, dealing with foreigners, or even flying internationally.
You can just imagine how scary and stressful this life changing event would be. And it does not even stop from just getting through the hurdle of arriving at the destination itself. There are also the topics of culture shock, discrimination, homesickness, loneliness, feeling helpless and xenophobia to name a few.
This is where my book can provide value. My vision is for my book to be the bible for people who are aspiring to live abroad and for those already in their overseas journey to make it more worthwhile.
I want my readers to learn from my experience, be inspired and empowered- to realize that if you have the right information, tools and mentality, living overseas can be a fabulous experience.
*1.77 million in 2020 from the Philippine Statistics Authority
Has writing this book changed your worldview at all?
On becoming an author and learning about the self-publishing process, I now have such high regard for my fellow authors. To put yourself out there with your words, thoughts and beliefs, taking that risk and not knowing if readers will love or hate your book – it really takes an enormous amount of courage.
Other than that, I still believe that we can all appreciate the help that we can get. Be it an advice from a friend, a blog post or a book, it can go a long way. So I’m hopeful that my book will someday reach readers from all corners of the earth to help people in diaspora thrive wherever they may be.
‘The Overseas Fabulous Pinay’ has been such a hit with readers. I hear you are working on another book – can you tell us a bit about it?
I’m glad you asked. I’m really excited for my next book. It will be like an extended version of The Overseas Fabulous Pinay book’s chapter on “the professional.” While this chapter of the first book covered mainly my Five Rules of Work, the second book will cover my key tips on relevant areas that will help women in diaspora thrive in the workplace, from landing that dream overseas job to planning one’s career progression. That’s all that I can say for now so watch out for it!
When you are writing and/or relaxing what kind of music are you listening to?
I do have a quite broad range of taste in music but which music I listen to at a particular moment is largely influenced by my mood.
If I want to have a productive writing session, I need to be awake so I tend to listen to pop, old school, new wave, Brit rock and club music.
If I’m relaxing – guess what, relaxing for me does not necessarily mean being inactive. Cooking is a primary relaxing activity for me, which luckily I can do almost everyday. When I cook, again depends on my mood, my background music can range from Pink Martini, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, chill-out, French lounge, acid jazz, and party music.
To learn more about Donna Kuenzler and ‘The Overseas Fabulous Pinay: a modern Filipina’s handbook on how to thrive abroad’ head over to Amazon.