Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crossing Cultures in Wildwood

Have you ever seen that T.V.  show called Jersey Shore?  I guess it’s about these wild New York ‘Italian’ kids who go out to the coast to waste their lives partying and hooking up with people.  It has characters with names like “Snooki” and ‘the Situation’.  It’s sort of popular, but to be honest I’ve never seen it.  And call me an idiot for not paying attention to details, but I never even knew Jersey had so much shore!  But it does and down at the southern tip you’ll find Wildwood.  

Before going to serve in Wildwood, New Jersiey this summer Stephanie and I were told that there are “tons of international students” there.  But to be honest, I didn’t totally believe it!  Even though my sister Rachel had served on the project and told me about it and my best friends told me what a great place it was to meet people from other countries, I thought they were all basically exaggerating!  I sincerely thought “sure, there probably are a few more international students in Wildwood than there are in Daytona Beach or something, -but seriously,  how many could there really be?”   But let me say that I was totally failing to comprehend the reality!  It’s basically mind blowing how many international students there are in Wildwood over the summer.  I don’t understand it!

But what does make sense to me is having a summer project there!  At least part of the  reason so many students come from all over the world is because of Mory’s Piers.  Mory’s Piers is a beach side boardwalk string of amusement parks. They have a very proficient internship system that involves sending recruiters to universities in countries like Romania, Kazakhstan, Turkey and China to promote their job opportunities.   Students sign contracts and then get on planes and move out here for the summer to work at Mory’s wannabe Disneyland.  I met some guys from Bulgaria.  They told me that there are at least 100 students from Bulgaria working at the Piers! At another point I heard there are 500 in the area and they jokingly call Wildwood –New Bulgaria during the summer.   And some students love it so much they come back year after year. 
In the middle of the project we host a raging BBQ and invite co-workers, neighbors and anyone else who the students have met.  Our students are working beside students from countries where it’s actually difficult to send missionaries.  They are  gaining cross-cultural ministry experience and having opportunities to proclaim the Gospel to people who have never met a Christian before!  

On Thursday nights we host what's called "international Cafe."  We broadcasted a wireless internet signal for people to use and the students would hang out on the driveway.  It's a great way to hang out together 

1 comment:

  1. This was a great post, JW. I would never have expected international students in Jersey, either!

    And the tie-in with the show was funny. I have never seen it, but haven't been able to avoid becoming mildly aware of the "characters" while standing in line at Walmart, waiting to check-out. Sigh...

    Love your blog & love the Betts,

    Cathy Groves