By Raquel Cevallos
Every year thousands of international students from all around the world apply for a summer work and travel program here in the United States.
A program that allows foreign students, under an exchange visa category, J-1, to have the opportunity to spend up to four to five months working temporary jobs here in the U.S.
According to CBS, as of August 2017, the Trump administration has considered to make serious reductions after a series of criticisms made by both democrats and republicans.
This was caused by having a huge increase in competition for the American workers.
For many foreign international students, this cultural exchange program offers a wide load of opportunities to enrich themselves into the American culture.
Not only do students learn our customs but also share their own.
Lastly, they support the true international cooperation.
Currently, in the U.S there are many companies in which benefit highly from the load of abroad students assisting in employment throughout the summer.
Let’s begin with one of the world’s most innovative entertainment companies, Walt Disney World.
Disney is known for being one of the top supporters of the international programs.
It allows students to connect with people across the globe and immerse themselves into an English-speaking environment.
As for Disney, and many other companies, these programs offer opportunities in leadership, customer service skills and much more.
As this is a topic that has fired many opinions, I took it upon myself to ask many exchange students from local amusement parks, currently participating in this program, if they indeed question President Trump’s administration in restricting this program for them.
Additionally, I asked what the program has offered them throughout their stay.
A work and travel participant herself, Armeliz Lopez, currently employed with Dorney Park, a Cedar Fair Entertainment Amusement Park, voiced her opinion on her behalf.
“I think that there is a huge misunderstanding with the amount of sacrifices that need to be made to even qualify for a J-1 Visa.
In the Dominican Republic for example, many of us must fulfill specific requirements, pay application fees, agencies and much more to come to the U.S, to work and travel.
Besides all the time that is taken to initiate the process, students like myself are more excited to jump into a new country filled with many opportunities, to improve our English-speaking skills and make long lasting friendships that leave unforgettable memories.”
So, what about us, the American workers?
What is our opinion on the impact that we receive while working with these students?
Adam Orsulak, an associate from Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, also expressed his opinion about this potential elimination.
“I’ve met so many great people from around the world, through the Work and Travel program.
It’s taught me more about other cultures than school ever has.
Because of it, I’ve made friends in South America, Europe and Asia.
The experience that people from abroad and domestically experience through this program is unparalleled.
The J-1 program isn’t just an exchange program, it’s some way college students from abroad get to see first hand what our culture and our people are like.
Cutting the program would be cutting us off from the world in a way, and the consequences would be detrimental.”
According to CIEE, one of the many sponsors of the work and travel, the 2016 summer foreign students contributed an estimate amount of $509 million to the U.S economy and U.S public diplomacy efforts.
The Trump administration should really take into consideration how disadvantageous it would be to eliminate such a great program that is built for mutual understanding.
The mutual understanding is based between the people of the U.S and people of other nations so we can all be stronger, safer and more successful.
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