Au Pair, travel, and language programs in – China!

China

(photo courtesy of the Asia Kids Society)

Have you ever thought about working as an au pair in China? If so, I just found out this week about an organization that can help you get there. The LOHO Centre in Beijing offers people au pair jobs, internships, and other work and language programs throughout travel. It’s also part of the IAPA (the International Au Pair Association), so it’s legit.

I don’t have numbers to prove this, but I would think that China is still a bit off the beaten path as far as au pairing goes. But apparently they have a very large number of host families looking for au pairs to come work for them. The agency also says that they have an increasing number of au pairs coming in from Western countries, which I can imagine is true.

So if the Chinese language, culture, and people are fascinating to you and it’s a place you would like to find out more about living and working in, take a look!

 

Summer program for Au Pairs in Italy

Venice pic

Photo courtesy of dreamstime

This is a guest post by Silva, an American who recently moved to Trento, Italy with her husband. Silva is an English teacher and volunteer at InCo, helping match host families with au pairs.

Italian families are looking for English-speaking au pairs for summer 2014!

InCo (Interculturitå e Comunicazione) is a non-profit organization that began in 2004 and is located in Trento, Italy. It is an organization geared towards bringing cultures and people from all over the world together, giving them the chance to experience a different country, language, and culture. This is done by creating positions in which volunteers or au pairs can live and work in a new city and/or country.

The organization is currently looking for au pairs who are interested in going to Italy for three months this summer. Host families are looking for au pairs that are from the US, United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, and Germany. Au pairs should have some child-care experience, and of course, enjoy travel and foreign language. Host families also look for au pairs that are creative, responsible, fun loving, and love to be around children!

Itay is a country full of color, laughter, shouts, delicious food, and beautiful sceneray. With a bus or train you can reach lakes, mountains, or a different city. Italians are also known for enjoying life to the fullest, whether it’s vacation, family, or enjoying the traditional aperitif with friends in the evening. It is a country worth experiencing!

Living with an Italian family is a wonderful and enriching experience – au pairs will learn a new language, try traditoinal Italian dishes, and see and experience something new almost everyday. Italian families are highly family-oriented, and au pairs are welcomed as one of the family.

Anyone interested in the summer program can contact Silva at silva.e03@gmail.com

 

Traits you need to be a great Au Pair

au pair photo(photo courtesy of dreamstime)

This is a guest post by Lisa Kempton, an Alternate Responsible Officer and Regional Director for Au Pair International, an au pair agency designated by the US Department of State and specializing in matching and supporting au pairs and host families both in the US and abroad. She has been working to help host families and au pairs to have successful matches since 2008. Contact her at lkempton@aupairint.com with any questions.

Having working worked with host families and au pairs for over 4 years, I have had many opportunities to see wonderful matches where the host family and au pair end up truly caring for each other like they were family, and I have also seen matches that haven’t been as wonderful.  While each match is unique with its own set of pros and cons, there are some common au pair traits that seem to help ensure success.

  1. An interest in children:  I know that it has been said that you don’t need a burning love for children in order to be an au pair, but you do need a general interest in them.  Let’s face it; most au pairs are alone, in the house, with the children, all day long.  If the sound of a child’s voice grates on your nerves like nails on a chalkboard, then this probably isn’t the right path for you.  This goes for after the au pair arrives, too.  If an au pair acts interested in the children and their activities when Skyping with them before she arrives, but then couldn’t care less once she arrives, the family feels deceived  and wonders what else the au pair has misled them about.
  2. Patience: Anyone who thinks that working with children all day is easy hasn’t ever done it.  It takes patience for crying, sticky fingers, messes, crying, toys everywhere, homework battles… oh, and crying.  Au pairs need to be prepared that most days will be pretty good, but some days will be very hard.  Patience on the hard days will be rewarded when the children put their arms around you and tell you how much they love you.
  3. Flexibility: There are certain rules put in place to protect the au pair and host family.  It is very important that those rules are followed, but there also needs to be some flexibility.  Sometimes schedules change.  Sometimes parents are late.  Illnesses happen and life is sometimes just crazy.  If an occasional bending or breaking of a rule happens, then you just need to let it go or talk to your host family about it in a casual way.  If your host family repeatedly disregards the rules, than that is another issue entirely and should be discussed with your agency.
  4. Interest in the family: Most families really want their au pair to be a part of the family.  If the au pair is distant or spends little of her off-duty time with the family, the family feels that she only matched with them to get come to a new country and not because she wanted to participate in a cultural exchange program.  I worked with an au pair once who would go up to her room as soon as her shift was over, and wouldn’t come out for the rest of the night.  The family would ask her if she was hungry for dinner or wanted to do activities and she would decline and then sneak down after everyone was in bed and go find something to eat.  Needless to say, this match didn’t work out.  The best matches are the ones where everyone really cares for each other.  This is demonstrated when the host family invites the au pair along to different activities or does extra things to help her feel at home, like introducing her customs into their household.  I once had a host family who had a traditional German Christmas for their au pair.  This helped her to feel loved and accepted.
  5. Initiative:  Families don’t want to have to tell au pairs to do every little thing.  If the baby needs changing, the families want the au pair to go change him.  If the kids have homework to do, the au pair should make sure that happens on time.  If the kids are bored, the family wants the au pair to come up with activities to do.  You are in charge during certain hours of the day, so take charge.  Make sure the children are well-cared for and engaged and if you are off-duty still be attentive to the children’s needs, like you would a member of the family.
  6. Maturity:  There is a reason that au pairs must be at least 18 years old.  Families are not looking to bring another child into their home; they are looking for an adult to help make their lives easier.  Successful au pairs are the ones who take responsibility for their needs and happiness.  If you have a problem, don’t expect your family to solve it for you.  First, you will need to research your options (the internet, your agency and fellow au pairs are good resources for this), come up with some possible solutions, and then go to your host family and discuss with them what will work best.  They are there to help you, but not solve your problems for you.

I know I have just focused on what qualities are important for an au pair.  There are just as many qualities that are important for host families to have, the most important being dependability, compassion, appreciation, and trust.  In my experience, matches that have these qualities are amazing experiences for everyone involved and result in life-long friendships.

International Au Pair and Host Family Day, October 29

autum family walk (photo from dreamstime)

In case you still need proof that working as an au pair is becoming more popular, here you go. The International Au Pair and Host family day is coming up this weekend. The event is in its second year and is hosted by AuPairCare, one of the first au pair agencies to be approved by the U.S. Department of State and in operation since 1989.

The Int’l Au Pair and Host Family Day is a free event that takes place in roughly one hundred towns and cities around the United States. It is designed as a fun, community event for both host families and their au pairs and serves as an introduction to those new to au pairing. I love anything that promotes cultural exchange and convenient, afforable childcare for parents, so any event that shows the fun and benefit of being (or hosting) an au pair gets my thumbs up.

Has anyone here taken part in an International Au Pair and Host Family event? If so, please tell us about it!

*For more on the Knoxville, Tennessee, event, check out the KnoxNews article.

Au pairs and sexual assault

girl on phone (photo from dreamstime)

Today I am at Au Pair Clearinghouse discussing the recent news about the German au pair who is suing her au pair agency and its representative for fraud, negligence, sexual harrasament, assault and battery, and more. According to the au pair, her host father made sexual advancements and subjected her to abusive behavior. Although the au pair agency, US Au Pair, claimed the the host father in question had passed an extensive background check. it seems as though this complaint was not the first. According to the au pair suing, two previous au pairs had been forced to leave the same host family due to sexual harassment on the part of the host father.

You can read more about the case, as well as tips on how to not become victimized while working as an au pair here.