Having grown up with au pairs for most of her childhood, Cassie from Illinois, who recently graduated from high school and is heading to college in upstate New York this fall, recently caught up with nine of her former au pairs on a reunion trip in France. While the au pairs had not previously met in person for the most part, they all shared a deep and lasting connection to Cassie’s family, and the trip was an amazing experience for all who attended.
Reflecting on her childhood companions and the impact that each one has had on her and her family, Cassie shared a lovely tribute to the power of cultural exchange and the way that the lives of her family and her au pairs have become intertwined, across oceans and through the years:
“The rules of ‘Around the World Ping Pong’ are simple: queue fun people around a ping pong table and try to keep the ball in play, running ‘around the world’ to the other side after each turn. This game, in the company of nine former au pairs, beautifully paralleled the rotations each have made through our family.
Long before we reached the eleventh and final au pair who came to our home, we floated the concept of hosting a reunion to celebrate the new family members, role models, teachers, and friends we had gained from around the world. Now seventeen years after Natacha arrived and four since Jana returned home, they journeyed from Brazil, Thailand, Scandinavia, and across Europe to join us in rural France. Just days before I moved out and left my parents empty nesters, my brother and I bookended our childhoods with many former au pairs introducing us to new young families of their own.
Leading by example with a love for embracing new people and cultures, each au pair left a perceptible mark on how we grew up. While Natacha’s crepes have found a regular place on the table spanning the last two decades, the tradition Elvi’s parents introduced us to of hosting neighborhood ‘paella parties’ stuck as well. Eva P. would happily adorn me in any number of pony tails I requested each day before preschool. Eva D. filled our home with laughter; Debo, with kindness; and Janine, with festivity. Emma filled it with style, and Jana with music that inspired me to play piano again. Nang helped me barter in Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market in January. Benny I’ve spoken to on a near-daily basis for the last six years.
Aside from short overlaps in their stays, and visits to and from former au pairs during their time with us, each knew the majority of their counterparts only through stories. But it was understandably strange to think that these women, all integral to bringing us up and ingrained in our perception of family, had for the most part never met. In the last eighteen years though, they’ve all joined the sphere of our nuclear family. Each relationship redirects us around the world to a new perception of how others live. And while we pick up the cultures of those who live with us and imprint on us, we too, volley back a quasi-American experience, supplemented by the trinkets of exposure we’ve accumulated. Running around the table playing ping pong, it’s clear we’ve all joined the same orbit.”
Is your family in need of reliable, flexible child care and eager for a life-changing cultural exchange experience? Learn more about Au Pair in America today!