College students have long been the backbone of the summer workforce. They don’t mind irregular hours, they aren’t looking for full benefits and are happy walking away with fistfuls of tips. And this summer on the Island more than ever it seems, many of the college students who are taking orders, collecting eggs and folding T-shirts hail from much farther away than mainland, USA. Eastern European college students are increasingly seen filling the ranks, thanks to programs that sponsor foreign students for J-1 Visas. Add to that an influx of vacationers, and Martha’s Vineyard becomes an overnight global community.

“You can meet everyone here,” said Liuba Drayanova, an aspiring poet from Transdniestria who is working two jobs in Edgartown this summer. “All of us are the same, but we are also different.”

Claudiu Rosu hails from a seaside town in Romania. — Mark Lovewell

Ms. Drayanova came to the Island after a recommendation from a friend who had worked here for three summers. Through her university, State University Bryansk in Russia, she found the Summer Work and Travel J-1 visa program.

The work-travel program, which is one of 13 options of J-1 Visas, is only available for students and is intended for extended work and travel during school holidays. Students who participate help fill a gap for seasonal jobs left by American students who tend to leave in mid-August to return to school. Some work-travel participants start as early as late May and continue working until the end of September.

According to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, there are currently 57 summer work and travel program J-1 visa holders on the Vineyard. The majority of the workers come from eastern European countries, with Bulgaria and Serbia topping the list. The 11 non-eastern European J-1 visa holders hail from the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Participants are required to hold one job, though they may take a second and many do.

Ms. Drayanova’s first job and housing are at Morning Glory Farm. She also works two days a week at the specialty food shop Soigne. Morning Glory Farm, which employs nearly 100 workers every summer, on average employs six to 12 workers from foreign countries. Serbian and Russian workers are usually referred from J-1 sponsors, while many of the Jamaican employees are often referred by their first job. Ms. Drayanova works up to 60 hours a week and uses some of her income to help out family back home. And she still finds time to enjoy the Island, which she describes as magical.

“It’s heaven on earth,” she said, describing excitedly the first skunk she ever saw and the tiny flies she finds charming. “We don’t have insects like that in Russia.” With a wealth of nature around her, she averages two poems a day.

Kristina Savic has a ready smile for customers at Skinny's Fat Sandwiches. — Mark Lovewell

For Claudiu Rosu, Ms. Drayanova’s coworker at Soigne and a returning summer worker, the ocean was the draw to the Island. Mr. Rosu hails from a seaside town in Romania and is about to complete the last year of his master’s degree in offshore engineering at the Maritime University of Constanta. He also works at The Black Dog in Edgartown, logging a total of 80 hours a week in both jobs. He said he works two jobs to save money for travel after his work period is over, and among other things hopes to visit Miami, Fla. He said while he hopes to return to the Island in the future, he will be done with school and no longer eligible for the student visa program. But he might look for an internship instead.

Mr. Rosu opted to find his own housing on Island. Dealing with the notoriously slim housing market, he said he stayed with friends for three days before locating permanent housing. Though they might not know each other back home, Mr. Rosu said a network forms among the foreign workers once they come to America, because they are all in a similar situation.

With a ready smile, Kristina Savic greeted customers coming into Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches early this week, scribbling down orders on a light green note pad.

Ms. Savic came to the Vineyard knowing only one other person who would be summering here. “Now,” she said, “I know everybody on the Island.”

She is pursuing studies at the Faculty of Organizational Sciences at the University of Belgrade in Serbia, and wanted to do something big this year. She made the decision to spend her summer on the Vineyard in two days, something her family thought was crazy. The 21-year-old found her way over through Work and Travel Group, which has been connecting students like Ms. Savic with sponsors for summer work and travel J-1 visas since 2007. Work and Travel Group is based in Serbia and was created by past participants in the J-1 visa program who summered in Martha’s Vineyard. Their first partners were the businesses where the founders worked, and for the past few summers they have sent about 100 students to the Island. The program in conjunction with her first job, at the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company, helped her find housing. She lives in a house in Oak Bluffs with 16 other Serbians and one American. Ms. Savic took a second job at Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches on a recommendation from a friend. She said she loves the closeness of the Island and how friendly everyone has been. As with anyone working the summer season on the Vineyard, there never seem to be enough hours in a day for Ms. Savic.

“I work a lot,” she said. “I need more time to see the Island.”