- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

CODY, Wyo. (AP) - Thirty female foreign workers from China, Bulgaria, Romania and Jamaica are all staying in a dormitory behind the Best Western Sunset Motor Inn this summer.

“There’s not many jobs in Jamaica,” Tracey Ann Knight says. “The city we are close to is about 700,000 people.”

The Sunset Motor Inn is employing 30 foreign workers this summer, ages 20-40 and all working in housekeeping. Most have good language skills.

Like other foreign workers employed at various Cody motels and restaurants, they are issued working visas for a set period of time between May and October and, through the federal program, are assigned to an employer. The program has grown across Wyoming in recent years as employers find fewer local people wanting to work in those positions.

Some of the workers knew each other before coming to Cody.

“But we also get to meet people from different countries,” Samanta Russell said of making friends with workers from other countries working around Cody this summer. “We get to be friends.”

Dalemeta Anderson appreciates the dormitory.

“It’s like home,” Anderson said of the motel-owned facility. “We’re one big family.”

For Russell, working in Cody gives her a chance to live in a different culture.

“We get to experience different aspects of nature and get to know about the culture of America,” Russell told the Cody Enterprise. “It’s like a cultural exchange.”

The hardest part for some is leaving their families for the months they are in Cody.

“I miss my kids and husband the most,” Jasmine Pryce said.

Winnifred Allen adds, “We send the money back home.”

Most of them get to talk to their families every day.

“I talk to my kids over the phone and on Skype,” Sarah Kelly said. “Sometimes we talk every day.”

The weather was hard for the workers to get used to.

“The climate surprised me the most when I came here,” Pryce said. “It’s cold here. Even when it’s sunny, it’s cold. In Jamaica we don’t have the breeze.”

For many, snow was new.

“We had only seen the snow on television before we got here,” Russell said.

Simone Clarke added, “We have to buy warmer clothes when we come here.”

Although it’s chilly, they love the landscape.

“The natural beauty in Cody is amazing,” Russell said.

Some of their highlights are shopping, touring the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and visiting Yellowstone Park.

“I like the museum,” Anderson said. “It’s so full of different things.”

While here, the foreign workers see wildlife they’ve never seen before.

“I like to see the deer,” Kelly said. “You don’t see deer in Jamaica . I’ve also never seen a bear or a buffalo, and I want to see them one of these days.”

Russell thinks the entertainment is better in Jamaica.

“The entertainment in Cody is just dead,” Russell said. “In Jamaica, we go dancing and here there aren’t many people and we don’t have choices.”

They make up for this by celebrating their own events, like Jamaica Independence day Aug. 6.

“We share our food, culture and history with other co-workers,” Pryce said.

The food here is different than Jamaica.

“I miss the food,” Stacy-Ann Swaby said. “It’s not as good here. The seasoning is different so it gives it a different taste. I’ve had to get used to it. I think you guys use more herbs than we do.”

Pryce disagrees.

“I haven’t tasted a food I don’t like, yet.”

Although most of the workers enjoy Cody, they say it’s not all fun.

“We have to walk everywhere,” Swaby said. “It can be frustrating at times, but it’s worth it at the end of the day.”

Stacey Jones likes the ambiance of Cody.

“What I like about Cody is it’s peaceful and quiet,” Jones said. “My favorite part is the people.”

Although the workers were assigned to Cody, many like it anyway.

“I would have chosen Cody if I had the choice,” Tamara Bernard said. “I had never been to Wyoming and I had never been to the United States.”

Some of the workers hope to return next summer.

“As long as I can come back, I want to,” Kelly said.

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