Au Pairs who hail from all over the globe to care for children for a year or two find the cultural exchange goes more than two ways. And often, the au pair exchange will move more than just the au pair herself and her host family - other people in the U.S. host community benefit as well.
Xi Zhou came from China to the U.S. hoping to understand more about American culture and receive more education along with a greater understanding of the English language. What she got after she arrived was a new family and other close friendships.
The majority of families and au pairs beginning the au pair program meet for the first time when the au pair arrives in the USA. For the Santos family of Maryland and their French au pair Sophie, that wasn’t soon enough! Over the summer, the Santos’ traveled to France, met Sophie’s family and went to Paris together. Here are some highlights of their adventure, in host mom Angela’s own words.
On August 3, 2015, a number of U.S. J-1 visa sponsors joined forces to celebrate J Day — a nationwide celebration of the power of international exchange.
International exchange participants across the country came together with their American hosts to share cultural diversity and American customs, to give back to their communities, and to have fun.
One Au Pair from China and two from South Africa had something in common when they recently spoke about their experience in the United States. They all said their host families made them feel like they have a home away from home.
Au Pair Fulan Li from China stays with a family from Aspen, Colorado and says her host parents love her like she were their own:
“My host parents are very wonderful persons. They are kind, generous, and warmhearted. They always love me, respect me and care for me.”
International au pairs in the St. Louis region joined forces recently with a local non-profit organization, Love the Lou, which works to positively impact the community of St. Louis city through restoration efforts and connecting resources to the needs of the city. Love the Lou brings a positive impact in areas of the city that are struggling. One of the many ongoing projects is to beautify and maintain neighborhood gardens that are located in areas of the city that are stricken with crime, poverty, and little sense of community.
When Brazilian au pair Francielly came to the USA, her Area Director, Kay, invited her to volunteer at a local food bank. Francielly, though new to Texas and the community, immediately felt a pull towards helping on a regular basis. It takes a special kind of person to dedicate her free time to others, but for Francielly, it was easy.
During their stay in the United States au pairs taste new foods like Cheetos, participate in activities like bowling and may see snow for the first time.
Au pair Douglas Gonçalves do Nascimento from Brazil shares his first experience with snow in Utah this past winter:
This spring, 60 au pairs from 8 different countries engaged in the great American pastime - a baseball game. Dressed in Phillies red and white, au pairs from the Philadelphia area gathered at Citizens Bank Park for a match-up against the Washington Nationals. The ladies enjoyed watching the game, laughing at the Philly Phanatic mascot, and singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
When German au pair Svenja pictured her au pair experience, she imagined it would be with a classic American family, like in the movies. What she didn’t expect was that she’d get the opportunity to also learn about East Indian culture, with her Indian American host family, the Iyers. Svenja lives in Northern California with the Iyers, looking after their two children - a boy age 3 and a girl age 1.
Summer Work Travel (SWT) participants from South America recently had the opportunity to learn about flora, fauna, history and the environmental impact humans make on California's Lake Tahoe at a presentation by the League to Save Lake Tahoe, commonly known as “Keep Tahoe Blue”.
15 SWT participants from Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina who have been working in North Lake Tahoe for the winter attended an information session hosted by InterExchange, The Ritz-Carlton-Lake Tahoe and the League to Save Lake Tahoe.