The Lake George Student Connection will be ready to welcome nearly 1,000 J-1 Visa international students this spring.
Resurrected after an absence of several years, the new committee has received support from the Town and Village of Lake George as well as the Town of Bolton and Queensbury.
Last summer the committee established an office at the Lake George Visitor Center to handle complaints on housing, accommodations and employment problems. This year, funded by the participating municipalities and some private sponsors, a full program of activities and events will be held.
A forum will be held on May 8th, 2018 at the Holiday Inn Resort, Lake George, open to all employers and accommodations to acquaint locals in the rules, necessities and federal laws that apply to the J-1 Visa Program. Students are allowed to enter the United States for up to four months to experience our culture. They are not required to work, although a great majority work one job and many several.
Register for this free event at www.Eventbrite.com, Lake George Community Events.
At least three welcoming events will be scattered throughout the spring offering the students back packs and other necessary sundries, as well as socializing events and dinners at local churches.
Two members of the Student Connection Executive Committee attended the national conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin to gather information on other communities’ activities and programs. Mayor Blais met with Myrtle Beach officials on a recent trip south where they host over 3,000 students annually and provide weekly social events.
Members of the Executive Committee, comprised of a representative from each municipality and local church groups, have been meeting monthly. They have established a website with helpful information for both students and local communities, such as housing tips, airport transportation, cultural events and medical information. www.LGStudentConnection.com
Several businesses including a $1,000 donation from Stewarts Shops have been received to assist in funding the planned activities and assisting the local chamber in staffing the Visitor’s Center.
Village and town officials are also working on adopting regulations that will allow them to inspect housing and make them aware of where students are staying for the summer months.
The Student Connection is also working to develop additional housing that is needed to accommodate the students in a safe and clean environment. SUNY Adirondack officials are considering opening up their dorm to assist in this effort according to Mayor Blais. “Creating a welcoming, safe and culturally beneficial atmosphere is our goal”, according to the Mayor. “No resort can provide seasonal services without the influx of these international students. Without them, many of our resorts would have to close early or could not fill their open entry-level jobs”, said the Mayor.
As an added bonus, Mayor Blais has nominated Lake George as a possible site for the 2019 Community Support Group Summit. The first two were held in Ocean City, MD and Wisconsin Dells, WI. The summits attract 150-200 stakeholders from across the U.S. for a three-day session on all aspects of the J-1 Visa Program and needs.