First, an apology, I missed 150 days… mostly because I do not actually have a countdown clock so it was only when I worked it out this morning I realised that I had totally missed a quite important milestone. But anyway here we are at 140 and we will make the best of what we have.
I have become a fairly regular reader of the new Disney Programs Blog (officially run by Disney Recruiting) who wrote a post this week about the history of International Recruiting in the company and it turns out that 2012 is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the department. The US College Program celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and they put together a photo mosaic made up of participants photos from the last 30 years – I submitted mine but I do not have the patience to try and find it in the photo (shown above), click it to see it full size. Leave a comment below if you find me!
[EDIT: The wonderful Alice Hands has found me! From the top right hand corner go down 11 rows and left 7 columns. Did I mention she is awesome…]
Last week I had a customer at work who was from the New York area and we got talking, it turned out that she had taken part in the US College Program over 20 years ago and had been there with some of the first ‘International Fellowship’ participants just a year or so after Epcot had opened. I am quite excited that I will be on the program when it celebrates its 30th Anniversary and the Disney post and my customer got me thinking about the history of the program. As I always do I turned to trusty old Google in search of the answer. Wikipedia was, of course, an obvious place to start but as ever was pretty unhelpful in telling me anything I did not already know. After a bit of searching I came across and academic paper from the Florida Law Review, not exactly what I thought I would find. It turns out that Kit Johnson has researched the history of the international programs and the invention of the Q visa which all CRPs travel on (and even cites my friend Louisa’s blog!).
For all the information you should read the paper which I have included at the bottom of this post but I will try and give as good a summary as I can. When EPCOT opened in 1982 it was decided that to give the World Showcase some authenticity it should be staffed by young people from each of the pavilion countries. At the time the only way the company could bring internationals in to work was as students so they introduced classes for them which was the start of the modern educational element of the program. Later the Q visa was developed which was essentially the ‘Epcot visa’ since Disney campaigned for its introduction and to this day remain the most significant user of it. Later the ICP programs were also introduced to give more diversity to the international programs. My googling also led me to an amazing YouTube discovery – a video from a UK pavilion participant from 1993 which shows Vista Way (the only complex at the time). There is also a video going around meeting different participants within the UK pavilion. This will probably be of more interest to people who have been on the program before and can compare to today but I think it is a really cool little find.
I think it is amazing to think that all current CRP participants are continuing a tradition that has continued with no breaks for the last 30 years. This kind of respect for tradition while at the same time moving forward is one of the reasons that I respect the Disney company and want to work for them. I hope in 30 years time people will find this blog and share it with future participants who can enjoy seeing how different (or not) things are then.
FULL PAPER BELOW