Many of our au pairs who join American host families hail from Colombia, a South American country rich with European, Amerindian, African, Middle Eastern and Caribbean cultures—due in part to its location on the continent. Spanish is the primary language in Colombia, and family life, hard work and enjoying life are important components of its rich culture. Let’s explore Colombian skills and attributes that may be important to you as a host family:
Country Facts: Colombia has a population of 46,039,000 people. The diverse people of the country speak Spanish as the primary language. Bogotá is both the capital city and the largest city in the country.
Driving: Since urban areas in Colombia have heavy traffic, it can be quite challenging to drive there. There's a local saying that translates to “if you can drive in Bogotá you can drive in any place in the world.” All AuPairCare au pairs have driver’s licenses. In order to obtain a license, Colombians must be at least 16, have ID, and be part of the national registry. They also must pass a physical exam and psychological test. The last component is a driving ability certification issued by authorized centers. They must also have no record of a moving violation in order to obtain their license, which at this time costs about $75 USD. Since the infrastructure, traffic rules, and congestion differ from those encountered in the U.S., ask your Colombian au pair candidate about her specific experience—who knows—she may just need to get used to more open roads!
English: Since Colombia is a large country with a varied educational structure, it’s more difficult to speak broadly about English skills. Many Colombian au pairs have superb English, and some will need more time adjusting to living daily life in English.
Cooking: Colombians tend to start the day with a hearty breakfast at home. It’s a tradition for mothers to teach their children how to cook, and many au pairs from Colombia will be adept at cooking for your children. Traditional meals are regional in this large country, in part due to topography and location: For example, spiced coconut rice is more common on the Caribbean coast. Many traditional Colombian dishes include rice, meat and vegetables—ask your candidate about the regional dish where she is from!
Communication style: Group harmony and success is very important in Colombian culture, and au pairs coming from this culture tend to be warm, family-oriented, loyal, and humorous. Many have a lot of childcare experience because familial and mutual support is so important to society. When communicating, Colombians tend to provide context before diving into an issue, so all parties have a good foundation. When interviewing Colombian candidates, it’s best to provide some background about your family and daily lives before discussing specific schedules and tasks. Colombian culture is also more future oriented and optimistic than others, tying in nicely to the national Rumbero spirit, wherein one works hard in order to enjoy life.
Highlight: Colombian culture is very warm, and festive. This is highlighted by the many regional festivals that take place throughout the country all through the year! This includes the Feria de las flores in Medellín, and others. Ask your candidate if she’s been to any Colombian festivals—maybe she can share some fun traditions with your little ones!