International Workers Provide Critical Support
Winter may be upon us, but here in Ocean City, we’re always thinking about summer. This week, in conjunction with International Education Week, we celebrated one important piece of our summer success in Ocean City, the international exchange students who visit us each year as participants in the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program.
Earlier this week I had the privilege of welcoming the first-ever Summer Work Travel Community Support Group Summit, held here in Ocean City. This gathering brought together representatives from 20 different states, the State Department, the international exchange community, and more than 20 Community Support Groups around the country, including Ocean City’s very own Seasonal Workforce Committee.
These Community Support Groups are volunteer efforts, made up of citizens who want to welcome and support our international student guests while they’re in the U.S. on their exchange programs. The support groups provide a wealth of practical information to the students regarding safety, housing, transportation, banking, and medical facilities, among much else. The groups also build a strong sense of comfort and belonging for the students, many of whom are visiting the U.S. for the first time, by organizing orientations and cultural events throughout the summer.
Like many other seasonal tourist spots around the country, Ocean City is lucky enough to host a crop of talented SWT international students each summer. Hailing from 60-plus countries as diverse as Turkey, China, Russia and Ireland, these students get the chance to live and work in the U.S. while on summer break from their college studies. At home, they study engineering, law, science, business and the arts. In Ocean City and other seasonal communities, they spend unforgettable summers as beach and waterpark attendants, ride operators, wait staff, ice cream scoopers and much more.
For Ocean City, our international student population contributes to our community’s vibrant coastal culture in so many ways. They are invaluable to our business community, providing crucial support that allows us to host more than eight million visitors each year. They are also the future leaders in their home countries, and ambassadors of their cultures while they’re here. By living and working in the U.S. for a summer, they gain a truly irreplaceable experience and we uniquely learn as much from them, as they do from us.
I’m inspired by the work of the Community Support Groups like the OC Seasonal Workforce Committee. These organizations are a showcase of the goodness and generosity of our community, and our country while also providing our International guests a safe, happy and life-changing summers in Ocean City and beyond.
Mayor Rick Meehan