Go Kart racing has been a popular pastime for about 50 years in the U.S. and has been the first step for many drivers who eventually go on to professional racing in NASCAR, Formula 1 and the Indy Racing League. And there are some women’s names in the professional racing world too, such as Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher. While we may not have been thinking about such high aspirations when we joined together for a couple of hours of fun this past Sunday at Crofton Go-Karts, we surely exhibited the adventurous spirit Au Pairing bring out in person!
Once a year our three clusters, Annapolis, Baltimore and Columbia, come together for our annual host family event, which is one of the State Department’s requirements for participation in the program. While total attendance is still a goal we hope to reach each year, we were very pleased to see all the happy families enjoying this year’s Cultural Fair for host families and au pairs. The venue was EcoAdventures (http://www.ecoadventures.org/) in Millersville, a hands on educational facility that captured everyone’s’ interest. The children were able to touch the animals, with appropriate precautions taken, while they learned about the animals in the Rain Forest room. The adults enjoyed that also! Au Pairs from around the world were stationed at tables with fun information about their countries and children were able to get a passport that they could take to the different tables and get stickers from the different countries. The icing on the cake was the food they brought from their native cuisine, which filled two table tops. Food is always a great way to share culture.
We hope to see even more host families next year!
On May 16, 2015, au pairs from the Baltimore, Columbia and Annapolis clusters came together to see the Orioles play baseball at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Stadium in downtown Baltimore. In total 52 au pairs came out to enjoy the day and to experience one of America’s favorite forms of entertainment! So many countries from around the globe were represented we lost track. While the sun was shining and the weather was very hot the Orioles pulled off a win against the Los Angeles Angels!
Thanks so much to Brian Egger of Trek America (www.trekamerica.com/aupairinamerica) for braving the winter storm today to meet with us and let us know about the wonderful travel opportunities for our au pairs. Tours range from as little as 3 to 4 days to 4 weeks long depending on how much time and money you have to spend! The beauty of joining such a Trek is the opportunity to meet people who may come from all different parts of the world. As you explore American cites and natural parks you find yourself making friends with people who span the globe! The tour guides introduce you to the locals by offering jeep rides on an Indian preservation to horseback riding in the Grand Canyon. For more information visit the Trek America site.
Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1863 when Lincoln became the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving Day. The holiday has been a fixture of late November ever since. The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church. They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland (The Netherlands) to escape religious persecution. Seeking a better life, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America.
The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. They lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast – including 91 native Americans who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the native Americans. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival and lasted three days.
It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving today. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies’ Magazine, and later, in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale’s obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
To Learn more about the history and traditions of this holiday go to:
http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/videos#history-of-the-thanksgiving-holiday. Find fun activities to do with the children here:
A little history about Saint Valentine’s Day
On Thursday, February 14th we celebrate Valentine’s Day in the United States by giving flowers, candy and cards to those we love. We do this in honor of Saint Valentine. You may be wondering, “Who is St. Valentine”? Time to brush up on your Valentine’s history!
Legend has it that Valentine was a priest who served during third century Rome. The Emperor at that time, Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those that were married. With this thought in mind he outlawed marriage for young men in hopes of building a stronger army. Supposedly, Valentine, decided this decree was not fair and married young couples in secret. When Emperor Claudius II found out about Valentine’s actions he had his head cut off making him a martyr of love. Another legend has it that Valentine was an imprisoned man who fell in love with his jailor’s daughter. Before he was put to death he sent the first ‘valentine’ himself when he wrote her a letter and signed it ‘Your Valentine’, words still used on cards today.
Perhaps we’ll never know the true identity and story behind the man named St. Valentine, but this much is for sure…February has been the month to celebrate love for a long time, dating back to the Middle Ages. In fact, Valentines ranks second only to Christmas in number of greeting cards sent. For some fun children’s activities including crafts, coloring pages, games, puzzles and poems go to:
The Annapolis, Baltimore and Columbia clusters all hosted holiday parties this month. The Annapolis cluster enjoyed a gift exchange and an international cookie swap where all the girls brought a baked good typical to their home country to share. Everyone went home with a bag of cookies from around the world. The Annapolis and Columbia clusters invited a Federal Marshal to attend to speak to the girls about personal safety when going out alone, with friends or when out with the children that have been entrusted to their care. Topics discussed included awareness of their surroundings, how to handle going shopping with children and what to do in case they find themselves to be a victim of a crime. Internet safety tips were discussed as well. The counselors presented the au pairs with a wonderful bright red umbrella with the Au Pair in America logo as our holiday gift to them. The Baltimore cluster had fun displaying their cheerful red umbrellas for the camera. It was a perfect day to hand out umbrellas as the weather was overcast and drizzly on Sunday. The cluster also did a Secret Santa gift exchange. Everyone left with a little gift, and feeling very much in the spirit of the season. We wish all the au pairs, the host families and their beautiful children a blessed and wonderful holiday, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Au Pairs with Au Pair in America from the Baltimore, Annapolis and Columbia clusters met at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore on July 15th to sail the Inner Harbor with the Urban Pirate ship (www.urbanpirates.com). We were greeted by some very authentic pirates and the au pairs and counselors were donned with appropriate costumes as we cruised the harbor on a beautiful sunny day taking in the city sights. Au Pair in America screens eager and skilled young women between the ages of 18 and 26 from around the world, who will join your family and care for your children during a mutually rewarding, year-long cultural exchange experience. Apply between July 16th and July 31st and save $500.00.