It was an ordinary day. Sitting in the shade on a green canvas beach chair talking to Jaroslav about his life as a beach attendant on the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey. A few minutes before he had placed an umbrella on the beach for my wife and I to sit under for our final vacation day to Ocean City. Jaro, as his thermos says, is from Slovakia which is part of the European Union and is bordered by Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine. Jaro is tall and thin with radiant blue eyes and whose English is near perfect. This is the second year that Jaroslav has worked the beaches of Ocean City. The 21-year-old young man recently finished his second year at the University where he is studying Air Management. He has three more years of study before he gets his degree.
Map showing location of Slovakia. Click to enalrge.
Slovakia provides free education through University studies. He is sharing a floor of a rental unit with three other students while in Ocean City. His family includes his parents and three older sisters, two of whom have also spent summers working in the vacation mecca of Ocean City. He speaks German, Russian, English and studied French, but hasn't used it much in the past few years. His job working on the beaches requires he have medical insurance as well as a place to stay. He arrived about a month ago and will work until September when he will visit New York for a week before heading home for his sister's wedding and then back to the University for another year of study. As he was telling me of his plans after the summer ends, he said he must be home in time to see his sister take a husband. I assumed from this that she was getting married. He enjoys U.S. food, but finds it is very expensive to eat healthy food. In his country fast food is more expensive than healthy food and yes, they do have McDonald's in Slovakia. He does miss his mother's haluska which he tells me his mother makes by grating potatoes, coating them with egg and placing them in boiling water. During my conversation with Jaro, customers stopped at his stand to request umbrellas and chairs. He told me to stay and he would return soon, but I soon realized I was becoming a burden to him and wished him a successful summer and success in his studies. Great fellow who represents his native Slovakia very well. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.