Thursday, August 18, 2011

More news on the student exchange from hell

The New York Times has picked up the story, which I found re-posted by the National Guestworker Alliance. The Times has a lot more information than what I was able to find online yesterday.

Yesterday, someone asked me, "But why didn't the students find out exactly what kind of job they would have?" I think that's a good question, but on the other hand, look at the Web site for the Council for Education Travel, USA, which the Times identified as "the organization that manages the J-1 visa program for the State Department." (This is the student cultural exchange program.) There is nothing on the organization's site that would arouse my suspicion.

On the other hand, the response given by their spokesperson to the Times didn't sit right with me.
Rick Anaya, chief executive of the council, said he had brought about 6,000 J-1 visa students to the United States this summer. Mr. Anaya said he had tried to respond to the Palmyra workers’ complaints. “We are not getting any cooperation,” he said. “We are trying to work with these kids. All this negativity is hurting an excellent program. We would go out of our way to help them, but it seems like someone is stirring them up out there.”

If people are being overworked and ripped off--apparently the tipping point came when the students discovered they were being charged much more for rent than other tenants in the apartment complex where they are housed--you can't expect them to have a positive attitude.

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