Anyone who resides in the Lake George region or visits us during the summer sees young adults riding bicycles, waiting at the trolley stops or walking the streets with backpacks or shopping bags. Chances are they are international students here on J-1 visas. Most are employed seasonally and are here to learn our culture and enjoy the United States for up to four months. They take entry-level jobs that allow our businesses to maintain a level of service that consumers have begun to expect in hotels, retail outlets and amusements. They clean rooms, bus tables, sweep streets, clean restrooms and stay long after our students must return to college. Without them there would be a serious lack of employees in our area and every resort in the country.
During many summers several international students were mistreated by employers and hosts as well. Overcrowding in rooms, withholding wages, unsanitary conditions and total disrespect for their wellbeing and safety occurred all too frequently.
The town of Bolton, Queensbury, Lake George and the village contributed funding to form “The Student Connection.” This group has reduced complaints substantially, provided orientation programs for students and employers, held dinners and provided rooms, bicycles, tours and backpacks to more than 1,250 students. Our local churches have hosted these events organized by Howard Nicol and our pastors. They have given their time and energy to ensure that these students have an enjoyable time in the United States.
They deserve our thanks for “stepping up to the plate” to make Lake George a welcome place to visit and work. Returning to their respective countries with good words about our area and its people. Something we need now more than ever.
Mayor Robert Blais, Lake George