Shift Change 

As Bogus Basin approaches the close for the season, refugee workers look for summer jobs

Even though Sugow Santur has worked in Bogus Basin's Simplot Lodge for four seasons, skiing is not for him.

"Skiing?" he repeated. "No. No, no, no, no. Walking only for me."

Walking isn't even the right word. Santur practically breaks into a run as he swoops around the lodge, wiping a drip of mayonnaise off the counter and grabbing a half-full trash bag from the dining room to throw out. In fact, his boss said it's hard to get him to even take a break for lunch.

Santur had never even seen snow before he came to Boise four years ago as a refugee from Somalia, until Bogus Basin hired him, along with 20 other refugees.

Now that the season is winding down, however, the refugees must look elsewhere for work. Santur only gets one six-hour shift a week now, compared to the 35-40 hours a week he worked all winter.

Ryan "Mo" Morrison, food and beverage manager, calls it "heartbreaking" to no longer be able to offer these refugees work. They must turn to refugee agencies to help place them in new jobs.

The partnership between Bogus and Boise's refugee organizations started seven years ago. Out of the 120 employees hired to run the Simplot Lodge, whether it be cooking food, working the cash register, bartending, bussing, washing dishes or keeping the lodge clean, 15 percent of the workers are refugees. They tend to work in food and beverage because that's where most of the hours are available, and it's the best chance for them to work on their English skills.

Morrison has learned lots of patience from hiring refugees. He said communicating can be very challenging. That can make training quite difficult. But Morrison has come up with systems to help, like color coordinating the cleaning chemicals.

"Sometimes it's as simple as walking around and showing them: blue, glass; orange, this; yellow, that," Morrison said.

Just how hard it is to communicate became clear when Morrison asked Santur where he works when Bogus closes its winter operations.

"Sugow. Summer. Last year. Not this year. Last year," Morrison started.

"Yeah?" Santur said.

"Uh, what did you do for work?" Morrison asked.

"What?" Santur said.

"You. Work. Where?" Morrison said.

"Summer?" Santur said.

"Yeah." Morrison said.

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