“I think all the small towns around the world, they work together. They work as a team. They help each other,” said Marco Pejerrey, a 19-year-old from the small jungle town of Bagua Grande, Peru.
“I like the way people behave here because, always, people are helping each other. It’s like my small town in Peru,” said Marco, before telling a story about getting picked up by a local while hitchhiking to work after missing the bus. “It’s easy to recognize someone who’s from abroad here. So maybe you don’t feel so comfortable taking someone that you know that is not from here in your car. I tried and the second one gave me a ride. I was on time! I really appreciate what she did for me.”
Three months ago, after finishing his third year of medical school in Lima, Peru, Marco decided to take a break from his 10-year pathology degree to go abroad for the first time in his life. With a J-1 student visa, Marco applied to Sugarbush’s Work-and-Travel Program, a program that employs international students at the resort as part of a cultural exchange.
Marco wanted to be in a small town too. “I prefer small towns to big cities. In the surrounding area of Lima there is crime. You hear the sound of the police, the ambulance. You feel the stress. I don’t like it,” said Marco.
“I like a quiet life, no? Reading a book. Staying calm, in the nature. I usually spend my time reading or doing something quiet. I read Peruvian books, literature, the story of Peru, or books related to my career. That is what gives me fun.”
Still, fun time is limited for J-1s like Marco who works two jobs. During the day, he’s a chairlift operator at Sugarbush. At night, he’s a dishwasher at Hyde Away. He’s up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare for his Sugarbush shift, which ends at 4 p.m. Then he takes the bus to Hyde Away.
“When I come home and I message to my parents, ‘I’m here. Everything is OK.’ Then I will take a shower and sleep, because I’m dead!”
ENJOYS THE WORK
Despite the long hours, Marco enjoys his work, especially as a dishwasher at Hyde Away, where the crew of Americans in the kitchen makes him feel at home. “I like it because all the people that work there are really funny. They are always making jokes or talking,” said Marco.
Having two jobs has allowed Marco to invest in family, travel and treats. “I like this place so I plan to go back next season. First, I have to return the money to my parents because they lent me the money to come here. I have that money, and now I also have enough money to come back next season. So that’s why I need a second job, to have enough money to go back to my parents and to go back here. And also to buy maple syrup,” said Marco.
Marco is eager to come back, despite the initial adjustment to winter life. “That was a problem when I got here. I was really cold. It’s still so cold. I bought everything: the jacket, vest, mask, hat, hand warmers, foot warmers. It was hard at the beginning. I used to wear hand warmers every day. At least I survived. I am proud of that: I survived the winter!”
Another reason J-1s keep coming back? The snow. “I like working with snow. Because in Peru we don’t have a lot of snow. This is the first time that I see snow in my life! I thought, I have to do skiing. Because I never tried to ski before, but I was interested in doing it,” said Marco.