We love celebrating our au pairs here at AuPairCare. Every year we hold an Ultimate Au Pair 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 – we are happy to announce our winner in our Ultimate Host Family contest! Our first-place winner, Camila from Colombia, submitted a fantastic entry about her family that shared her experience of cultural exchange and feeling like a real member of the family. Read her entry on behalf of the Sockrider family from Peoria, Arizona.
What is it about your host family that makes them the Ultimate Host Family?
Before I came to the USA, I knew that my time here would be good, but I didn't know exactly how good it was going to be. I didn't know I would see my Host family as my real family. My host family made me feel at home from the very first moment I arrived.
I didn't know how much you could love three small children that aren't your own. And I didn't know that this was going to be the best experience away from my native country. My three wonderful and crazy host kids teaching me every day the true meaning of love. Both my host parents are big inspiration to me for a lot of reasons, but specifically how they prioritize family and take the time to do a lot stuff more. Also, they are an adventurous couple, and every day they teach me their family values.
I am lucky because I didn't only get a new host mom, host dad or host kids. I got host uncles, host grandfathers; I am like the fourth kid on the family or like a niece to them. Not only do they invite me to different activities or events, they always include me as one of them. If I would need to use just one word to describe this family, I would definitely use "loving." They have taught me not with words but with actions that family is not just about blood but about love and acceptance. I consider myself so lucky to be with them while living this awesome experience as an au pair. When it comes to raising and helping my host kids, my host parents always listen and talk to me. My host parents care about what I think, say, and feel after a certain episode and it makes us an equal, united front. My host parents have never restricted my relationship with my three wonderful and crazy host kids, and I have grown into loving them as if they were my own younger siblings.
We're a family that can laugh and cry together. They have made this the best experience I have ever had in my life.
How have you and your host family shared your culture with each other?
Living with the host family allows you to truly feel like part of the family! The little ones come to his room at all hours to play or watch television; the family can knock on your door to ask you to go out with them to dinner; you can hear the events. And you can always go out and join the fun! More experience with the language!
It's nice to hear the children say the numbers in Spanish (My native language) say "te amo" and many more words that they learn.
What does the au pair program mean to you?
I think the best part about living with a host family is the relationship we've developed during my time abroad. They are super funny and really nice. They took me in as practically another member of the family. When any other members of the extended family visit for any reason, we have a great time together as well. I just adore how much I feel like this is really a second home for me. ... I have felt comfortable since my first day here and it gets better all the time. I've had so much help with my language abilities simply by living in their home that I never hesitated to speak with people I didn't know yet. I was understood, I was complimented, and I was overjoyed.
Make friends from the other countries is another important thing in this program I'm lucky my host family includes my friends in different celebrations.
What advice would you give to future au pairs about their time in the USA?
When you live with your host family you learn that it is not about the great things of your au pair year, yes, the trips and great gestures are great, but in reality it is about small things. Love. It's about sharing the important moments with your host family and your friends au pairs and that's what this program has taught me.
This program allows you to meet very special people, to live unforgettable experiences, to learn every day of small children and above all to create strong bonds of friendship with incredible people from all over the world.