International students arriving in the Lake George Region in 2018 will find a much more hospitable, friendly and welcoming community if the Student Connectionís plans materialize.
Members of the new organization have met and are establishing their goals for the regionís 2018 tourist season. Many new ideas came out of a recent forum lead by the sponsors and attended by many of the members.
Acting chairman, Mayor Robert Blais of Lake George, and the Executive Committee are proposing a budget of $15,000.00 to fund our plans to provide visiting students with a variety of activities, necessary for them to comply with their J-1 Visa Program.
The J-1 Visa Program allows students to visit the United States for up to four months to experience our culture and way of life. Working is not necessary, but most students choose to be employed. At least one month of their stay must be devoted to experiencing the U.S.A., its history and culture. Many of the large employers, like Great Escape Amusement Park, provide a complete program for the students. Many others are not allowing students to complete the requirements on their own.
Plans for 2018 include a full-time staffed office, two large orientation seminars, extending trolley service, expanding a website, Facebook page, language tutoring program, boat cruises with historical information and a spring conference to acquaint new employers with the rules of housing and employment.
Several of the area churches are planning weekly social events and monthly dinners. Two members of the Executive Committee will be attending a conference in Wisconsin to learn more about the national program, that hosts over 301,258 participants.
Mayor Blais will be asking the sponsoring towns to contribute funds in accordance with the percentage of employees working in their towns. This year 689 students were employed in Lake George, 226 in Queensbury and 92 in Bolton Landing. The asking amount for Lake George Village and the Town of Lake George is $5,000.00 each, Bolton $2,000.00, and the Town of Queensbury $3,000.00. The Connection has a surplus of $3,000.00 left from 2017.
This season, over 1,200 students were employed by the four major sponsoring organizations with as many as 500 more working in our region. The students arrive in May and stay as late as Columbus Day, providing a strong workforce for many of the tourist-oriented businesses. All of the planned events will be open to all students local and international. The programs will be designed to acquaint them with our local history, culture and way of life.
Mayor Blais has been in contact with officials in Bar Harbor and Old Orchard Beach, Maine as well as Ocean City, Maryland, where full time organizations host between 2,000-4,000 students annually.Members of the Student Connection Executive Committee are: Brain Clements, Queensbury, Marisa Muratori, Town of Lake George, Ray Perry, Village of Lake George, Megan Baker, Bolton Landing, Dan West, TD Banknorth Lake George, Howard Nicols, Patty Kirkpatrick, Joanne Mamrosch, Sandy