Photo by Jana Bounds

International Employee Dinner reborn on Fat Tuesday


Rotary Club of Big Sky and All Saints Big Sky, the Lutheran- Episcopal Church joined together to bring back an old Big Sky tradition: the International Employee Dinner.

Around 200 college age young adults are employed in Big Sky thanks to the J-1 Visa and bolster the workforce during peak season.

This year, around 50 of those workers celebrated Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday at the dinner held at the Wilson Hotel. Initially started in 2009, the event happened annually until 2016. All Saints member Audra Coury was instrumental in getting
it started.

“We thought it would be fun to bring it back – just as a way to thank and introduce the students,” Ginna Hermann said. “We hope to make it an annual thing and make it happen earlier in the season so they can know about resources.”
This effort was thanks to an 8-person committee and countless volunteers who prepared food, as well as the Wilson Hotel, which provided space.

The spread of food was extensive and the diversity of dishes impressive. “Isn’t it fun? People come in droves when you ask them to bring food. It’s really wonderful,” Jeanne Miller, who is a member of All Saints said.

Melissa Alger, sales manager with the Wilson Hotel said it was a great event. “We definitely need to appreciate every worker we can get into this town,” she said.

Both All Saints pastors were in attendance: Pastor Miriam Schmidt addressed the crowd and thanked the kids for their hard work in the community. Pastor Valerie Webster spoke animatedly with the international students she met.
The event was a cultural melting pot with many South American and a few European countries represented.

Conversation starters were placed on tables to encourage interaction – which everyone embraced.

Big Sky All Saint member Sarah Peterson had a long conversation with Paulette Sanchez, who was from Chile. “She is just a doll. She said she didn’t speak any English when she first moved here two and a half months ago – and we had a great conversation. That was just a delight, talking to her,” Peterson said. Interestingly, both women discovered they were using the Duolingo App to improve language skills: Sanchez to learn English and Peterson to learn Spanish.

Sanchez said she had a great time.

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