When a dream summer in the US becomes a nightmare 

Have you heard of the Work and Travel program for young people who want to visit the US? Although advertised as such, it doesn’t always turn out to be the best summer of your life.

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
When a dream summer in the US becomes a nightmare  - NewsMavens
Youth. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

It was Winston, a popular and good-looking head chef, who started to compliment her and make jokes. After a few days, they got personal and became inappropriate. Finally, he grabbed Veronika by the waist, pulled her body towards his and demanded a kiss.

Veronika was a student from Slovakia who came to the US with the Work and Travel program. When Winston started harassing her, she told her supervisor about the problem. Turned out, she was not the only one who accused him of sexual harassment. Winston got fired.

Surprisingly, some of her colleagues were angry at Veronika because they did not find the situation serious enough to discuss with the supervisor. Veronika no longer knew if did the right thing. 

Another student from Slovakia, Natalia, who worked in another kitchen, claims that she was bullied. On top of that, she didn’t receive her promised salary. The Camp Leaders agency, used by both of the women, confirms that there is more than one complaint about the place where Natalia worked. However, they do not see a reason to interfere because, in general, there has been more positive than negative feedback about the facility.

Incidents of verbal bullying, hate speech or sexual harassment have become a common occurrence in Slovakian Work and Travel programs. It doesn’t help that some of the agencies, like The Camp Leaders, refuse to break contracts with institutions with reported cases of abuse.

Details from the story:

  • This year, 2,600 Slovak students joined the Work and Travel programs and traveled to the USA. 97% of them were content with the experience.
  • Students Veronika and Natalia joined the program and worked in kitchens. The first one experienced sexual harassment, the second one -- bullying. Both of them traveled to the USA with the Camp Leaders agency.
  • There are many more students who had problems with the agencies subscribed to the Work and Travel program.
  • The recommended practice when traveling to the USA is to check the contact details of the Slovak embassy in Washington, in order to know who to ask for help.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy