Exchange-program workers arrive to find jobs are gone |

Exchange-program workers arrive to find jobs are gone

by Sara Thompson
Nevada Appeal News Service

Each year, international exchange students come to Lake Tahoe to work and experience the culture, but this year at least 14 people arrived to discover the jobs they expected were no longer available.

Harrah’s spokesman John Packer said part of the problem is that more workers showed up than were needed. Harrah’s requested 88 people through the exchange organization that arranges the visits, but the organization sent 14 more, Packer said.

Historically about 5 percent to 15 percent of confirmed international employees don’t show up, Packer said. Since participants have a travel and work visa, they sometimes decide to stay in San Francisco or Los Angeles once they arrive. Some decide to spend most of their time traveling, working only when they need to, he said.

South Shore resident Nick Gorman knows several of the exchange students who were caught without a job. One of them is his Peruvian girlfriend, whom he met last year when she used the same exchange program to work at the South Shore.

Gorman’s girlfriend, and some of her friends who were interviewed for this story, did

not want their names used for fear it would jeopardize their chances of getting jobs.

Gorman’s girlfriend said she and several of her friends found out that they didn’t have jobs when they showed up for a work orientation at Harrah’s on Dec. 17.

Gorman’s girlfriend was expecting to have a 30-hour per week housekeeping job paying $8 per hour.

Packer said other businesses in town, including Heavenly Mountain Resort, employ workers through exchange programs such as Direct Educational Exchange and International Cultural Exchange Organization.

Heavenly has fulfilled every commitment it has made to international candidates, said spokesman Russ Pecoraro.

The Tribune could not reach those organizations for comment Tuesday, so it was unclear whether other exchange workers might have arrived at the South Shore without jobs.

Gorman’s girlfriend provided a copy of her employment confirmation letter, which states: “Any position offered to me is not a firm, irrevocable offer and may be revoked at any time before I commence employment.”

In that case, ICEO or DEE will help the participant find alternative work, but there is no guarantee of a job, the letter states.

ICEO is a non-profit corporation established to promote mutual understanding between nations and is recognized by the U.S. Department of State, according to its Web site.

Because of the recent snowfall, Gorman’s girlfriend was able to find work at Heavenly Mountain Resort, but her friends are still searching.