On Sunday, a beautiful and crisp New York City morning, thousands of eager volunteers gathered across the five boroughs of this global city to hold witness to those who attempt one of the most difficult international marathons on earth. Holding front row seats were 60 international cultural exchange participants and staff of AuPairCare volunteers, cheering the over 30,000 runners to the finish line from their Mile 17 and 18 volunteer stations.
(Center: DAS Elkon, AuPairCare contest winner, Nina, au pair from Mexico)
One of the best opportunities for the sharing of goals of the Au Pair Cultural Exchange Program is through volunteer opportunities where au pairs can meet like-minded participants and get to know each other. An au pair is a young adult between the ages of 18-26 who comes to America from another country as part of a cultural exchange program. They are matched with a host family, and the au pair lives with them as part of the family and provides up to 45 hours a week of childcare. Team AuPairCare at this year’s NY Marathon included au pairs from 14 international countries.
Meeting Team AuPairCare volunteers was DAS (Deputy Assistant Secretary) Elkon, from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the U.S. Department of State. In her role, DAS Elkon strives to ensure the au pair program highlights the benefits of cultural exchange and is a positive experience for participants joining an American family, and embraces the close exchange of cultures. It was great to see her take time to speak with au pairs and learn about AuPairCare’s program experiences.
This year, we held a contest to send one au pair on an expense paid weekend trip to New York City to take in the sights and volunteer at the marathon. Nina from Mexico won and was joined by a friend for a few days to see what Manhattan was all about. TeamAuPairCare was also excited to cheer on Host Mom Makoto who ran the 26.2-mile course. Makoto was greeted by her son and au pair Luisa from Colombia near the finish line. “I trained to finish the marathon and I ran five boroughs for this moment! At mile 23, I saw the familiar pink sign ahead, “勝”. It means “win”. Win to myself. My son was holding it for me. Hugging him gave me the boost of energy for the rest of the course. Thank you, Luisa for bringing him there to cheer me on.”, Makoto shared.
Tamires, a volunteer and au pair from Brazil, shared
To be a volunteer at the marathon was an amazing experience. We didn’t give just waters and Gatorades to the runners, we gave to them good energy too. It’s amazing to see the runners because we can see there are no limits for us. We must think we can do it. When we do volunteer work, we’re doing something to better to ourselves.
AuPairCare is a premier international au pair agency designated by the U.S. Department of State. AuPairCare combines quality childcare and cultural exchange, bringing a diverse world of food, languages, and culture into American homes. AuPairCare has matched more than 80,000 au pairs with American families across the U.S. AuPairCare is a division of Intrax, a family of organizations that provide a lifetime of high quality educational, work, and volunteer programs that connect people and cultures.