Foreign Exchange Student Program
Hundreds of foreign students walked out of a Hershey’s chocolate plant in Palmyra, Pennsylvania August 17 to protest against exploitative working conditions. The students are in the US as part of the State Department’s Summer Work Travel Program.The program, advertised as a way to practice English and travel the country in exchange for two months of work, draws more than 120,000 students to the US each year. Most students come from poor social conditions and economic prospects in their home countries, hoping to fund their education and better the financial position of their families.Families often pay thousands of dollars to obtain the summer work visas, known as J-1 visas, through non-government firms. Visas for the 400 students employed in the Palmyra plant were arranged by a California-based company called the Council for Educational Travel, USA (CETUSA).