We love celebrating our au pairs here at AuPairCare. Every year we hold an Ultimate Host Family Contest that celebrates participants who embody the spirit of the au pair cultural change program. Our au pairs, however, aren’t the only ones who make this program great – amazing host families across the country are highlighted as nominees for our Ultimate Host Family contest! Au pair Annika from South Africa submitted a moving story about her host family, the Topala family, who are essential health workers. Read on for more!
Why do you have the Ultimate Host Family?
They are very kind people - they treat others with respect and care. They encourage and push me every day to be the best version of myself. They are amazing parents and play a huge role in their community and help where they can - they would give the shirts off of their backs for those in need
When I first arrived in the US I was doubtful of how I was going to succeed in this foreign country with so many responsibilities. I had my own idea of how I thought my host parents would be (strict and fast living) and what they would expect of me. However, from the first day I spent in the Topala house I have never felt so at home. My host parents (Renee and Alex) as well as the three lovely girls I had to care for, for the next year + greeted me with warm hugs and a feeling of peace and comfort that I could never thank them enough for. As the weeks and months passed by, I slowly started to realize that, that saying about " don't judge a book by it's cover"- is so true.
What special moments can you share?
In my time being here I have realized what truly kind people the Topala's are, especially during this COVID period. My host dad who is a physician and my host mom who is a nurse practitioner, both offered up their time and skills to help those in need (even though the risk of them getting ill, was just as high). They pushed through to provide for the family as well as to help those in need. When they were home from work they would still continue to help as much as they could and carve out some time to spend with their children as well as with me.
The girls are lovely and hard-working individuals with big hearts and good manners. They feel like my little sisters and every day we learn so much from each other. Every day spent in this house we push each other to be better than the day before. We do not quit or give up - we work hard to get the job done and while doing so - we treat each other with the needed respect.
I could not thank this family enough for how much they have taught me and encouraged me to succeed in life.
Sure nothing was rose color and sunshine all the time, but when the times were tough we worked through our differences and grew closer together. I would never trade this experience for any amount of money in the world.
I have learned so much about myself and grown so much as an individual.
I couldn't have done it without the kind and loving support of my host family. The girl's kind smiles and warm hugs as well as the support of my two wonderful host parents made this successful experience possible. They truly deserve this title and any Au Pair coming after me, is very lucky to receive such an amazing family.
How have you and your host family shared your culture with each other?
We have made a new tradition that every Christmas I can incorporate a South African tradition into our day. They have shared with me "the American way of house decorating for the holidays" as well as the interesting dishes they make on thanksgiving. We constantly share recipes and experiences from our home countries and try to incorporate it into our daily life in order to make each other feel comfortable and at home. They always tried to include me in every holiday of the family event as much as possible and treated me as if I was one of their family members.
They encourage and push me to be the best version of myself every day. When I just arrived here I was an aspiring dental technician, however- they saw that I could be more than I was willing to settle for and encouraged me to enroll in part-time college classes. I am currently in the process of finishing some classes and degrees in order to enroll in dental school.
Without their support and encouragement I could not have made it to this point in my life- for this opportunity I am very grateful.
Special moments I can share with you - every morning myself and Renee (my host mom) have coffee together, we chat a bit of nonsense and plan out the day. The warm hugs and snuggles I receive every morning when I wake up the girls and the special movie nights we have in front of the fireplace. The family meals we prepare together and the dance parties we have whenever we celebrate some good news. The snuggles of the animals and the pool days in the summer. My list can go on forever but these are the moments I hold dearest to my heart.