For International Education Week, we would like to share touching stories from Au Pair in America host families that illustrate the power of cultural exchange. International Education Week (IEW) is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.
Five host families share the impact of cultural exchange below:
The Gilbert-Ghormley Family on Au Pair Vicky, from Germany:
“Vicky was very thoughtful in finding ways to not only absorb American culture but to share her family traditions. She taught German songs and cooked German food. Around the campfire we made breadsticks toasted over the fire and dipped in jam. For Easter, she created special baskets to use for an egg toss game that she had always played with her family in Germany. Our family laughed and cheered as we tossed the eggs across a grassy field trying to determine the egg that would withstand the drop.
With her family visiting from Germany, Vicky shifted her focus to sharing her culture and building relationships between the families. Children held hands and played despite a language barrier. With the help of her mother, Vicky prepared a traditional meal to share. I think back fondly of the time we spent laughing and sharing stories with our new friends.”
The Dennison Family on Au Pair Laury, from Germany:
“The cultural experience for our boys was beyond measure as she introduced them to her traditions, foods, and taught them French – though it far exceeded just the boys as it also provided the cultural experience to us as parents.
In addition to her own culture, the boys got to experience and learn about other cultures as Laury regularly scheduled playdates with other Au Pairs and their families. It provided such a well of cultural diversity for our boys to experience and learn from Poland to South Africa to Brazil.”
The Drob Family in Texas on Au Pair Isa, from Brazil:
“ ‘Mão.’ My boys automatically hold out their hands. ‘Pé.’ They stomp their feet. ‘Cabeça.’ Fingers point to heads. These are only some of the many Portuguese words Isa has taught our kids. She is the most loving and dedicated Au Pair and we feel incredibly lucky to have her as part of our family.
After Isa returned from visiting her family in Brazil, she came back with a treasure trove of local snacks, coconut water, and other unique things like cashew soda. She also pulls from her family’s farming background to maintain an herb garden with the kids in our backyard. The twins are exposed to a much wider view of the world thanks to Isa’s efforts.
Isa is an amazing caretaker for our children, but more than that she is part of our family. She joins us for our celebrations (trick-or-treating is her newest favorite tradition!) and is never afraid to ask questions about American culture or values. We are lucky to have her and can’t imagine what we will do when it is time to say good-bye.”
The Li Family in New York on Au Pair Rebecca, from China:
“One of the reasons we wanted an au pair to live with us is so that our daughter could learn the Chinese language and experience Chinese culture. Rebecca has shared so much of her culture through books, music, food, and special holidays. Our daughter already knows some Chinese and can successfully point to objects when asked to in Chinese. Of course, we have shared our American cultural elements with Rebecca, as well. She is daring and tries everything we cook.”
The Rodriguez-Tylka/Tylka Family on Au Pair Yorling, from Nicaragua:
From the moment Yorling entered our house, she engaged the children in games and motivated their good behavior with patience and persistence. As the weeks went on, she took the time to learn about what interested them and shared her interests and home culture with us. By the end of her time with us, my children, who had always been resistant to learning Spanish, had acquired a great many Spanish words. Likewise, Yorling dedicated herself to improving her English.
Yorling has a unique strength of character that allowed her to fully immerse herself in the culture and community. She accompanied us on our outings during her days off so that she could experience Baltimore and DC, and went exploring on her own even though it required long bus rides. She was also deeply interested in learning how to make typical American foods (we introduced her to peanut butter and jelly!) and made us traditional Nicaraguan dishes on multiple occasions.
Interested in experiencing the amazing power of cultural exchange like these families? Find out more about hosting an au pair with Au Pair in America!