The Woodlands Villager ran a wonderful story about our au pairs bringing cultural exchange to Texas. Our Community Counselor, Donna Henry, along with two of our au pairs, Kinga and Rui, talked about the program and what it’s like to come from Poland and China to live in Texas for the year!
Several young women from across the globe are working in The Woodlands, providing live-in child care for families as part of a cultural exchange program.
“We have over 5,000 host families in the US.,” said Donna Henry, who works as community counselor for The Woodlands and Houston area.
Kinga Pikon is from the southeast region of Poland, and wanted to gain more experience in child care, and improve her English. The 25-year-old has her master’s degree in education and has been caring for the Oberg family since March of last year.
“I like my host family because we can talk about everything,” said Pikon. “I feel part of their family; I don’t feel like a stranger.”
She also enjoys looking after 12-year-old Max and 9-year-old Zane, she said.
“This host family has been in The Woodlands for several years,” said Henry about Pikon’s family. “They have had seven au pairs over their lifetime. They even went to Europe to one of their au pair’s wedding!”
As Community Counselor, Henry coordinates social events for the several au pairs in The Woodlands and Houston to enjoy.
“I conduct monthly cultural meetings with the au pairs. Some of the activities that we do are volunteering in the community, Rice football games, going to concerts in the park, ice skating, Texas dance lessons, a trip to NASA…” said Henry.
While getting to know other au pairs, Pikon struck up a friendship with Rui Cheng, a Woodlands au pair from China.
“I studied in Europe, and have my degree in preschool education,” said Cheng.
An au pair for over a year now, she lives with a single mother, helping care for her host’s 2-year-old daughter.
“She’s really cute,” said Cheng. “She’s really sweet with me.”
After a few days in an orientation in New York, Cheng and Pikon came to The Woodlands, expecting cowboys and horses.
“Most of my friends laughed at me,” said Pikon about announcing her move to Texas. “They said, ‘Oh my gosh, Kinga, you will be riding horses.’”
They have adjusted to The Woodlands very well so far, getting used to the different culture. Both women are enjoying taking care of the children, exploring the States and continuing their education.
“We want to bring awareness to the community that one option for child care is hosting an au pair in your house,” said Henry.
Read the rest of the article from The Woodlands Villager here.