Daniela Ilario: Saving money for an Argentine education | AspenTimes.com

Daniela Ilario: Saving money for an Argentine education

Ringing up a skiers lunch, 24-year-old Daniela Ilario of Argentina works the register at the Cliffhouse on Buttermilk Mountain. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

A 6,000-mile leap across the equator sounds like a great length at which to go to land a summer job, but for Daniela Ilario, the continent-hopping is worth it.Ilario hails from Argentina, where she studies at the University of Buenos Aires. When the school year ends in December for the summer break of the Southern Hemisphere, she packs her bags and heads for the States – specifically, Aspen. Come April, she’ll be back in Bueno Aires, hitting the books for her final year of studies, her tuition covered by her earnings here.

The 24-year-old Argentine is hardly alone – in either her financial strategy or choice of destination for her temporary exile from the bustling, coastal metropolis she calls home. At Buttermilk, where Ilariocan be found cashiering at the mountaintop Cliffhouse or handling assorted other duties at the restaurant, her countrymen and women are everywhere – their Aspen Skiing Co. name tags bearing “Argentina” as their homeland.It’s Ilario’s third, and probably last, “summer” here. With a communications degree presumably in hand by next December, she’ll be pursuing a profession at home in her field of study. She’s thinking about a job in radio or journalism.”I think that I’m not coming back. I want to stay there and work there,” Ilario said. “I know I won’t make the same money as here, but I want to try.”In four months at the Cliffhouse, though, Ilario said she will take home as much income as she might earn in a year of similar work in Buenos Aires – if she could find work there. The pay makes the challenges of lining up a visa, a job and housing in Aspen, along with the money for an airline ticket to get here, worth it.

“The first year, it was an experience – a new country, new people,” she said. “Last season, I came for the money and for the place. I think this season, I came for the money.”Like many foreign workers, Ilario knew someone in her home country who could show her the ropes in the U.S. resort job market. Her best friend, Brenda, had come to Aspen for several years and knew how to line up housing at one of the town’s seasonal housing complexes, and arrange a job. Ilario said she interviews via telephone for a job with the Skico each season and secures a position before she arrives.Brenda, meanwhile, has found resort work in Hawaii, and is enjoying a balmy, tropical season to counter the Argentine winter.”She wanted summer [weather] because we have winter here and [then] winter there,” Ilario said.Ilario obtains a J-1 visa for her summer travel. It permits foreign students to work in the United States under certain conditions – the job entails training related to their course of study, for example, or provides academic funding.

“My parents can’t afford to pay for my education,” explained Ilario, who lives at home with her family during the school year.The visa costs $700 U.S. and requires a sponsoring agency at home for the applicant. Acquiring it entails several interviews, including one at the U.S. embassy, where Ilario answers questions about the type of job she’s seeking and why she wants to work in the States. She must, she said, convey the sense that she has ties to her home country that she has no intention of abandoning – that she is coming to the States for a temporary period and will return to Argentina when the visa expires.Although Ilario wants to pursue a career at home, she doesn’t rule out another visit to Aspen at some point. She has learned to ski here.”I know that I’m going to miss it,” she said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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