Our dedicated, professional staff are one of the many things that set us apart. Lynn Gilbert is passionate about cultural exchange and offers a unique perspective in her role as Manager of Program Services as she was an au pair herself! She works year round to ensure host families and au pairs have a happy and successful experience. Read more from Lynn about why cultural exchange is important, what she learned as an au pair coming from Scotland, and her tips for au pairs and host families on how to have a successful year.
Please describe your role at Au Pair in America.
As the Manager of Program Services I manage a team of staff who monitor the community counselors and handle problem solving for participants on our program. This includes lots of ongoing training, guidance and advice. Our goal is to provide the highest possible level of support so we can enhance the program experience for au pairs and host families.
What do you enjoy about working with Au Pair in America?
The most interesting part of my job is that every day is different and involves lots of communication with colleagues, community counselors, host families and au pairs. So there is never a dull moment and every day is a learning experience.
Why are cultural exchange programs like Au Pair in America so important?
The world is now a global community. The more we share and learn about how we live is crucial to helping people work together for common goals that are positive for humanity. The au pairs on our program return to their home countries with a positive experience of the American culture and American people. Host families learn about other cultures through their au pairs, the experience of the exchange for both parties helps increase tolerance and understanding of different ways of life. One at a time, every exchange plays a part in making our global community better.
And it such a special experience for children to learn about another culture while they develop a loving and trusting bond with their care giver, who is also one of the family not just a child care provider. Host families often form life-long friendships with their au pairs. We hear countless stories of host families travelling to the wedding of their former or just to visit with her and meet her family.
As a former au pair yourself, is the experience different today?
It’s interesting, the basic experience has not changed very much; I spent a year in Connecticut and had an amazing exchange experience. I learned so much and it’s very enriching to be completely separated from your own support network and have to learn how to be resourceful and problem solve on your own. For me, I definitely became a lot more independent and confident. I had a wonderful experience and excellent support from Au Pair in America, I hope most of our au pairs still feel that way after they complete the program.
What are your tips for au pairs and host families for how to have a successful year?
Just be open to learning how to do things differently, let the little things you don’t like go and embrace the positives. Make the most of your time, make friends, enjoy your time with the children and most of all, if something is bothering you, talk to someone about it, your community counselor or call us in Stamford. We are here to support you and make sure you have the best possible experience.
And for families, again, be open to learning about another culture. Give your au pair some time to adjust, and extending a warm welcome when she first arrives is so important. Good communication of course is key, I always recommend families and au pair should set aside some time each week to sit down and talk about how things are going.