IENA attended the annual Community Support Group (CSG) Summit last week in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. The 100-mile chain of barrier islands is a big summer tourist destination for people across the US.
CSGs are organized by local volunteers in areas where exchange visitors temporarily live. Members can include local church groups, law enforcement, chambers of commerce, and many others. The conference is held each year to allow those involved in their local CSG to gather, share ideas, and support one another in our mission of cultural exchange.
The Summit’s first day was held at The Lost Colony, a visitor’s center and theater dedicated to commemorating the first English colony in North America, on Roanoke Island. The Lost Colony is also one of the Outer Banks’ main tourist attractions.
We heard from visa sponsors, housing vendors, health and safety organizations, and the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs staff. CSG members from across the country shared best practices and inspiration for creating an even better experience for our participants.
Day 2 took place in Kill Devil Hills, where we summarized our goals and established “take aways” for how we can continue to collaborate. We all left full of good ideas and dedication to improving the exchange visitor experience.
In summer 2018 IENA had many SWT participants placed in OB towns including Duck and Corolla. Participants worked as lifeguards, retail assistants, restaurant staff, and other hospitality positions. It was great to visit and spend time in a SWT hub!
Anyone with an interest in supporting exchange visitor programs can get involved in their local CSG. For a group near you visit https://j1visa.state.gov/summer-work-travel-community-support-groups/
Thanks to this year’s organizer, Jamie Bond at Intrax, for a great event!