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Work and Travel visit Virginia and South Carolina!

July 2, 2012

By Marcelle Benedicta and Tetiana Kachmaryk, Work Programs:

It definitely feels like it is summer! Not only is the weather scorching hot, but we are also hearing the below on repeat …

“How do I validate in SEVIS?”

“I tried to apply for my Social Security number but they said that they can’t find me in the system”

“What is the process of getting a second job?”

Our phones are ringing off the hook! Emails are flying around! We also fielded these questions live when we visited CCI’s J1 participants in Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, VA as well as Myrtle Beach, SC recently.

The participants are wide-eyed. Some look fearful, but all participants are hopeful. They are here to experience a summer in the USA, where they have an opportunity to work alongside American workers, practice their English, learn about US culture, and share a little bit about their own background. You can find them working as housekeepers at hotels, ride operators at amusement parks, servers at restaurants, lifeguards at waterparks, and many other positions. Ultimately, this cultural exchange program is shaping the perceptions of young people across the globe.

Summer participants are experiencing new things at every moment. During our visit, we saw the participants active in traditional American cultural activities and demonstrating independence and responsibility by working at their temporary jobs. Seeing these successes made us want to work even harder to make sure that their summer is unforgettable! Our employers are getting the help they need in this busy season and are exposed to cultural experiences themselves learning about places participants come from and their traditions. While in Virginia and South Carolina, we saw these experiences first had:

Participants:

“It is nothing like the movies, but there are a lot of places I recognize from the movies. It is so different than any other place I have been.”

“I like people here. They are all nice and there a lot of smiling faces around. I would like to take this cheerful attitude back home with me.”

“When I return to my home country, I will have a great working experience.”

Employers:

“The program shows different sides of work ethics. These students have a ‘why wait’ attitude and they are eager to get things done. This generates more responsibility for all employees.”

“I learn things that I did not know about other countries and cultures, it breaks stereotypes”

“We have guests from all over the country and we have employees who can relate to them no matter where they are from. Our guests like to interact with them.”

 “The program brings a lot of benefits for all employees; students are hardworking and wonderful people to work with”

Kudos to the community organizations VB ISOP and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for its unwavering support and wealth of resources. Other community stakeholders (local police department, Social Security Administration, Labor Department, religious organizations, etc.) are also working tirelessly to make sure that participants are safe and have a great experience. Last but not least, we would like to thank the employers, for opening your doors to these J1 participants and allowing them to contribute to your operational success this season.

To our J1 participants: We wish you a fun, safe, and rewarding summer!

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook. Email Elizabeth Brennan at ebrennan@cci-exchange.org with your stories and pictures, and you may just be featured on this blog!

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