Monday, July 10, 2006

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!

Actually, they are already here, along with thousands of other European students who come over to the States every year on four-month, J-1 work/travel visas. Those of you who have visited the Delmarva Shoreline over the past few years have undoubtedly noticed this. Years ago, it was a right-of-passage for college students and recently graduated high schoolers in the Mid-Atlantic to head off to Ocean City, MD, Rehoboth Beach, DE, and other neighboring resort beaches to work in the restaurants, amusement parks, hotels, etc.

In recent years however, business owners in these resort towns have had to look overseas more and more to staff their shops, bars and motels. This past weekend, an article in The Baltimore Sun highlighted the story of these young foreign students, and those who keep a watchful eye over them to make sure they get jobs and decent housing.

While on vacation last month, I spent a couple of evenings up on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, where Olga from the Ukraine sold me Ice Cream, where Nigel from Birmingham, England ran the kiddie boat ride, and where signs in Russian appealing directly to J-1 students were stapled to telephone poles. I got the sense from watching them that they were simply happy to be working in a resort town in America, even if just for a summer.

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