Every summer, thousands of students from all over the world work in United States National Parks under the federally-sponsored “Work & Travel” program, giving them a chance to work and live in a beautiful place, save some money, practice English, and become familiar with American culture and business. Each year, a few hundred of these students, charmed by photographs of red cliffs and slot canyons on the internet, choose to spend their summer in Zion National Park. The students work in various positions at the Zion Lodge, serving up food at the Cafe, maintaining the rooms and cabins of the Lodge, or keeping the grounds clean and functional.
At Zion Lodge this summer, you can be helped by future engineers, lawyers, doctors, and businessmen: students from Vietnam, China, Thailand, Philippines, Russia, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Turkey, and Kosovo. For many of them, it’s their first trip abroad, the first time working a formal job, or even the first time being away from their families. After a few months of work, many of them decide to spend a few more weeks traveling across United States, visiting places they have only seen in Hollywood movies. They go back to their country with a great experience, thousands of photos, and unforgettable memories. Some of them love their time here so much, they keep coming back every summer until the end of their studies.
Next time a young person with a foreign accent and a big smile serves you an ice-cream at Zion Lodge, make sure to smile back, because that might be adventure of his/her life!
Magda Mahoney drives trailhead shuttles for ZAC, practicing patience with this year’s road construction. She feels lucky to live in the heart of Zion every day, with the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world. Magda also guides trips for international employees of Zion Lodge and explores canyons with them in her free time.