Each year it is our privilege to honor a number of remarkable young women that have helped transform American families with cultural exchange and flexible child care through Au Pair in America. After a record number of nominations this year, it is with great enthusiasm that we announce our Au Pair of the Year Award winners for 2016:
Winner – Maria Guadalupe Arenas Prado (Lupita), au pair from Mexico
“Our family won Au Pair of the Century when we matched with Lupita. Although we thank her and praise her on a daily basis, it would be wonderful if Lupita’s tireless smile, goodwill and patience were rewarded with the recognition of Au Pair in America’s Au Pair of the Year award. She is truly the most incredible au pair a family could ask for, and after eight au pairs, from seven different countries on three different continents with six different native languages, I think we know a little something about what makes a good — and great au pair.
We have definitely kept her busy, but she has never once complained, slacked-off or even sighed. Her bright spirit (even during the craziest days) reminds me how fun these kids can be, and her example has made me a better mother. Lupita has formed a unique and special bond with each member of our family. As for me, Lupita has given me the greatest gift of all — time. Time to enjoy each of my children one-on-one, while knowing that the other two are in Lupita’s trusted hands. ” —Lupita’s host mom
Second Place Winner – Ramona Urban, au pair from Poland
“To say she has been a pillar of strength and support during this past year would be a tremendous understatement. Not only was she our trustworthy, kind, motivated partner in all things related to the kids, she did it against a backdrop of a bar mitzvah, a move, new jobs, two graduations, two new schools, a seemingly endless round of rotating visits and entertainment from family and friends, and a year in which both my husband and I were diagnosed and treated for cancer.
More than anything, it has been Ramona’s joie de vivre that stands out. He enthusiasm and passion for life is amazing and it is with great sadness that we need to say goodbye to her. She has been an amazing au pair and an integral part of our family and has been an exemplary participant in the au pair community and hands down, deserves to be recognized as the Au Pair of the Year!” —Ramona’s host mom
Third Place Winner – Luisa Cantillo, au pair from Colombia
“We live in Louisiana, and we lost our home and most of our possessions in the Great Flood of 2016. It was the most frightening and devastating event that our family has experienced. We were rescued first by boat and then by Blackhawk helicopter. My two young children ages four and six, as well as my paralyzed, disabled father and our beloved thirteen-year-old Golden Retrievers were all present in the house when this occurred. Luisa calmly and coolly helped me usher everyone upstairs and in ankle deep water helped me move what I could to the counters.
She helped organize games and songs to pass the time upstairs and shielded the children while we were watching the destruction in numb shock. Our boat ride out was dark, without life preservers, but Luisa met my panicked gaze with calm faith and a reassuring smile — and in that priceless Columbian accent told me, “Karin, this boat is perfect. Try not to worry.” Later, when the church shelter flooded, she held my children as the helicopters came in to rescue us and kept it all a great adventure.” —Luisa’s host mom
Thank you to all of the host families that submitted essays nominating their au pairs for Au Pair of the Year. This annual contest is a way to acknowledge the hard work and contribution of the very best of the best au pairs. All nominees receive a certificate from Au Pair in America and a copy of the host family’s nomination letter.
For winning Au Pair of the Year, Lupita received two round-trip tickets to reconnect with her host family in the U.S. at a later date, entry into the International Au Pair Association’s Au Pair of the Year contest and recognition on the Au Pair in America website. Ramona and Luisa are also showcased on the Au Pair in America website and each received one round-trip ticket to connect with their host families in the future.
You can read more about our Au Pair of the Year winners—past and present—and learn more about this annual contest on the Au Pair in America website.
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