By: Lee Bergstrom, Owner and Proprietor of Thomsonite Beach Inn & Suites in Grand Marais, Minnesota

This is our 10th year with CCI Greenheart.  We have had students from Romania, Moldova, Kazakhstan, China, Turkey, Russia and now Macedonia.  It is a great opportunity for us to invite International students to work and live in our community during the summer.

One of our participant's in St. Cloud, MN during the Fourth of July holiday.

One of our participant’s in St. Cloud, MN during the Fourth of July holiday.

We are a family owned Inn with the majority of our innkeeping business in the months of June – October.   We live in a remote area in Northern Minnesota that is driven by the tourist industry in the summer months. There are not enough locals to meet the

A recent dinner at a local Church for International Students.

A recent dinner at a local Church for International Students.

employment needs for this busy time, so the Work and Travel program through CCI Greenheart has been a great fit.  The pre-screening interview option available through Skype, has been invaluable.  We get a chance to meet each of our participants; check out their English proficiency; tell them about our area in Minnesota; the job and our expectations to make sure it would be a win-win for both of us. We have stayed connected with about half of the girls over the 10 years.  Two are getting married this summer and one is about to have her first child.  Even from a distance we are still a part of their lives.  The girls have been hard workers and are always fun to be around.  I love to take them on hikes; swimming in the inland lakes; going to the fitness center; have them over for meals, learn about their culture and family; and have the opportunity to share my family’s culture too.  I can’t wait until my family and I are able to visit their countries one day and see them again; we have lots of invitations!

One of our participants, Kristina capturing joy at Lookout Mountain overlooking Lake Superior.

One of our participants, Kristina capturing joy at Lookout Mountain overlooking Lake Superior.