NEW YORK — After two challenging years amid a global pandemic, international exchange programs like BridgeUSA Summer Work Travel (SWT) and Camp Counselor are rebounding. Large numbers of international students are finally arriving in the United States to begin their long-awaited cultural exchange experience.
During their universities’ summer breaks, these students come to the U.S. for a unique opportunity to travel, improve their English skills, experience American culture while sharing their own, and gain practical work experience in temporary, seasonal positions. SWT and Camp program participants come from diverse cultural backgrounds representing more than 130 countries including Türkiye, Romania, Thailand, Brazil, Ireland, and Jamaica.
Each summer, seasonal tourist communities around the country host these motivated cultural ambassadors. In 2019, more than 100,000 SWT program participants experienced American life, customs and culture first-hand. Significantly fewer participants were able to arrive in 2020 and 2021 (4,952 and 39,647 respectively), which negatively impacted seasonal economies and the public diplomacy goals of the United States. This summer, however, program sponsors like InterExchange — as well as American host employers — are looking forward to welcoming participant numbers closer to pre-pandemic levels.
“We are excited to welcome back our Summer Work Travel and Camp Counselor participants, to help reconnect with the diverse global community, and to enable young people from around the world as they experience the richness of U.S. culture. We welcome the support of the Bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassies and consulates overseas, who helped ensure the 2022 Summer Work Travel and Camp Counselor season unfolds in a timely and smooth manner, ” says Casey Slamin, Senior Vice President of Programs at InterExchange.
About BridgeUSA J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program: Since its establishment as part of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (The Fulbright-Hays Act), non-immigrant BridgeUSA programs like Summer Work Travel and Camp Counselor have served as some of the most popular exchange opportunities for foreign post-secondary school students to visit and learn about the United States, and to share their culture and ideas with the people of the United States.
About InterExchange: InterExchange is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting cross-cultural awareness through work and volunteer exchange programs. For more than 50 years, InterExchange has been connecting young people from all over the world with life-changing international cultural exchange opportunities.
Source: 2021 Summer Work Travel and Camp Counselor Host Employers Economic Impact Survey: SWT national, Camp Counselor national and state results.