Young overseas workers vital link to local economy; Community creates Welcome Event with food, fun, music

Jul 19, 2023 | Featured, Entertainment | 0 comments

Working at OurGuest Inn & Suites in downtown Port Clinton this summer are, left to right, Artis (Taiwan), Irem (Turkey) and Boon, Chat and Ice (Thailand). All enjoyed the Fourth of July Fireworks Show at Waterworks Park recently.

Many employers in the Vacationland region rely on summer help from around the world. This week the community has organized a way to demonstrate to summer workers how much they appreciate the U.S. Department of State BridgeUSA Summer Work Travel Program that allows them to work here.

The get together is on Monday, July 24 from 5-9 p.m. It is is designed to not only bring bring together local folks and workers from afar, but rather a cultural exchange between workers from many countries and residents.

The City of Port Clinton is working with local employers, community organizations, churches, public officials, media and the general public to throw the Downtown Welcome Event Party at The District Stage on Madison Street. There will be American food — burgers and hot dogs — lots of live music and fun and games.

Foreign student workers have been a mainstay for Mayor Mike Snider, whose daytime job at OurGuest Inn & Suites is finding vacation housing for visitors.

“We use the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program, and every year we find students who want to get a summertime job, work on their English language skills and see new and different places,” said Snider. “At OurGuest Inn & Suites we try to make the summer employees very welcome, to help them adjust to foreign customs and climates, and to safely experience life in America.”

Through Snider’s mentoring, young women and men have experienced changes in their diet, had help brushing up on their English, and needed skills to handle certain jobs. But they also have a chance to attend summer pro baseball games, and visit local amusement parks, a variety of restaurants and meet new and different people.

“Since 1999, I’ve participated as a host employer through my day job. I’ve been able to meet and interact with the students, and become friends with hundreds of participants.”

Snider thinks of the employees as “his kids,” and connects with their parents, as well, giving them steady reports on their summer adventures. It’s also a two-way street. Snider and his father, Snip, travelled to Taiwan last year at the invitation of parents to experience their culture and food.

About 30 companies are licensed to coordinate the BridgeUSA Summer Work Travel Program, and as many as 100,000 workers are allowed to come to the U.S. and work in seasonal positions. Tourism areas such as Put-in-Bay, Port Clinton, Catawba Islands and Marblehead often struggle to fill service jobs.

In 2022, Ohio hosted 2,936 Summer Work Travel program participants, and that could increase this year.

“The Welcome Event in Port Clinton next Monday is our way to say ‘Thank You’ to the young workers,” said Snider. “We want them to know how much we value and respect them.”

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