International students return to Wis. Dells, build up seasonal workforce

International students are returning to the Wisconsin Dells in full force.
Published: May. 30, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (WMTV) - International students are returning to Wisconsin Dells in fuller force, after the pandemic shut down opportunities to work.

The Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau is noticing an “uptick” in J-1 visas this season, according to Communications Manager Leah Hauck-Mills.

This type of visa doubles as a cultural exchange program and seasonal job.

“A lot of the embassies have opened up around the world, so we are getting an influx of students coming back, which is good for our workforce,” she said.

The Dells, like in many cities, suffered from a pandemic-related staffing shortage.

“Luckily, we’re getting out of it,” Tom Diehl, co-owner of Tommy Bartlett Incorporated, said. “If we can’t provide the quality and service to our customers, then we suffer as an area.”

Diehl has employed J-1 visa holders since 1982. They are supposed to support permanent staff during the busy summer months, Diehl said. He typically hires from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

This summer, Diehl hired Yaswah Ranger from Jamaica.

“I wanted to come to the U.S. and work so I can help financially for school,” the civil engineer student said.

After his shift at the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, Ranger goes to a pizza shop for his second job.

“Everywhere you go, you’ll probably find a J-1 student here,” he said. “We’re helping out quite a lot, to be honest.”

“We’re very happy the way 2022 has started out, and it’s wonderful to be at full employment,” Diehl said.

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