Dinner with the Nations
Tahoe Basin motorists frequently cruise by ski workers with arms extended, thumbs pointed up. But some members of the community have offered the seasonal employees more than a just ride; theyve invited them to dinner too.In winter 2005, Beverly Schnobrich, a nurse at Tahoe Forest Hospital, noticed the hitchhiker population had started to grow in Truckee. She wanted to learn more about the international employees. And she wanted to help. After Schnobrich met with several local resorts to spread the word, and secured accommodations to host a dinner, the weekly gathering Dinner with the Nations was born. I just started picking up hitchhikers and inviting them to the dinner, and it grew from there, Schnobrich said. A member of Truckees Sierra Bible Church, Schnobrich said when it came time to seek out a larger facility to support the expanding program, she and the other volunteers knew just where to go. This is an opportunity for us as a church and as Americans to wrap our arms around another culture, said Pastor Wayne Hoag. Its nice to have people go back home to their countries with a positive attitude.Since 2007, participation has grown, with attendance peaking at 120 diners. The majority are students from South America in the United States for their summer break, which is opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, Hoag said.These kids are incredible, Hoag said. Theyre law students, med students theyre the future leaders of their countries.Last Thursday, the group met for the final time this season at the churchs dining room. Goodbyes were exchanged, contacts were traded, and for Brazilian Claudia Zen, another holiday in the United States had come to an end.Zen said her experience working at Sugar Bowl for three years coupled with the hospitality of volunteers like Schnobrich and Hoag has encouraged her pursue a job in the United States foreign trade industry after she graduates next year.Jenny Howard, human resources manager at Sugar Bowl and Sierra Bible Church member, said the resort promotes the dinners to employees, and provides transportation to and from the church each week.We want to make sure the employees have a great experience while theyre here because that creates a positive work environment, Howard said. Its also good for them to know about Truckees culture, and for us to learn about theirs.The experience is more than just nourishment, its about cultivating friendships and understanding new cultures, Schnobrich said. Its a gift to know these people, she said. They are very family oriented, and to have them come here and join our family is amazing.