When I was little, I had a dream to be like a Power Puff Girl and help people in the world. Now I am older, and I am not a superhero, but I can do as much as I can to help people around me. Although I cannot save the world like a Power Puff Girl, I can try my best to help with little things like giving a seat to the elderly in the bus or train and helping people in need. In fact, there are lots of opportunity to help others in the world, which is volunteering.
When I arrived in the United States in October 2013, I sent an e-mail on volunteering opportunities to Gail from Global Awareness, a program sponsored by Au Pair in America. She was very helpful and guided me on doing a Global Awareness Presentation. My first presentation took place in December, where I presented about Malaysia in my host kid’s class, the second grade students in Oyster Adams Bilingual School. I felt impressed with how the students reacted even months after I presented. The kids greet me every time I pick up my host child or attend an event in her school. I still remember this girl was so excited and told me, “Jenn, I went to Michigan last week and I finally tried dragon fruit that you mentioned. It was so sweet!”
So then, I did another presentation about Chinese New Year. It was really challenging because I never presented with a group of 4 year olds especially in front of my host child. Doing the presentation boosted my creativity. I did research on how to make paper firecrackers, looked for Chinese New Year story books and put tattoos and stickers into red packets for the children. I love the idea of doing a Global Awareness presentation where I can share my country, holidays, who I am and what an au pair is.
I find it rewarding when I am able to contribute with my ability and special skills. So next I volunteered as an Assistant in Technology Services at Second Sense, a nonprofit organization that helps people with vision loss to build their ability to live independently. It was a whole new level of volunteering because I was in a working environment and I can finally utilize my computer and communication skills. I enjoyed calling clients to collect their feedback on the workshop and informing them about the upcoming workshops; I helped in the workshop and made new friends. It was eye opening because I got to see how people with vision loss or vision impairment learned to use electronic devices such as iPads, iPhones and computers, and how to be independent by learning to cook, sew and other skills. The most amused and fruitful moment was when I brought my colleagues with a guide dog to Chinatown for lunch. It was my pleasure to guide them while they taught me how to take a metro and walk around with the assistance of guide dog. I still keep in touch with my superior and he told me I am welcome to come back any time I want. What is more heartwarming than hearing this?
Being an au pair in the United States is more than just childcare. My volunteering experiences furnished my understanding of America from different levels. It gives me a sense of belonging, enhances my résumé and work experience, allows me to contribute to the community and so many more advantages. Thank you Au Pair in America for giving me the opportunity to be an au pair, which broadened my view in life.
Congratulations Jenn, and thank you for sharing your story! Read about all of the 2015 Au Pair Community Service Award recipients here.