Monday, October 17, 2011

Updates: The Occupy Movement and the J-1 Visa Program

Globalization continues to breed contention. Two recent examples:

The Occupy Wall Street protests mushroomed over the weekend to the point that even my little town of Canton, OH saw a protest downtown, with at least 70 protestors. It looks like we are seeing the growth of a social movement that may rival the Tea Party in its energy. As with that earlier wave, new media are a key part of mobilizing and energizing participants. All in all, it's a fascinating development, worth watching closely.

The New York Times reported today on the foreign student cultural exchange visa program that contributed to a work stoppage at Hershey's Chocolate company earlier this year. (For details see earlier posts.) The subcontractor that brought students over, the Council for Educational Travel USA, comes out looking pretty bad. All in all, it looks like the kind of program that was open to abuse, subjecting some of the young people from overseas to some rough treatment. All along, though everyone agrees that they got an all-too-accurate picture of American culture in the process. As one participant was told,
“You wanted a cultural exchange . . . . This is America and this is the way we do things here.” 
Indeed. Subcontracting and exploiting workers? Guess it's just part of our culture.

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