Paula Adams is a mother of 3 girls and has been with Au Pair International since 2008 when she started as an Area Director. Paula was also the East Coast Regional Director before accepting a position as the Director of Marketing and Records in 2011. She enjoys horseback riding, camping, hiking, and fishing among other outdoor activities.
The recipient of this year’s International Au Pair Award, given by International Au Pair Association (IAPA) was Martin Toth from Au Pair International. Martin is bright and energetic young man from Hungary who has been living with a family in Houston, TX. Soon after joining his host family, the unthinkable occurred. Martin and his host family were forced to deal with devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey.
Martin’s host family, the Bernosky’s, nominated him for the Au Pair of the Year award because of his service to them, their children, and even their neighbors, during this very difficult time. He has become a member of their family and they don’t know what they will do without him once his time with them comes to an end. For this, and many other reasons, Martin was chosen as the Au Pair of the Year. Below is Martin’s account of his au pair experience and his reaction to being honored with this astounding award.
I am so grateful to have been honored by the International Au Pair Association among such wonderful nominees. I owe a big thank you to my agency Au Pair International. They have been helping along the way and truly being my guiding light. I have to be honest. It hasn’t always been as easy as receiving this amazing reward. But I believe every setback that I have faced in this almost two years is made me who I am today. I could tell stories about difficulties of this job such as:
Getting accepted as male au pair
Helping out single mom who is going through a divorce in my first year
Living with family who vegetarian and adjusting my diet from eating chicken with chicken to well.. something else…
Or I could talk about taking care of 3 children and ending up with 5 for a while. And list goes on and on but I am sure every au pair has stories like that for days.
Instead, I just like to share short story, that many au pairs wouldn’t have the chance to tell. In Summer 2017, after spending about a month with my new host family Hurricane Harvey hit our city, Houston which needless to say that turned our life upside down. I’ll be honest, coming from such small country as Hungary I have never had to face anything like that. I still remember the day when we all set in the bathroom tub waiting for the hurricane to pass our street. Fortunately, the actual hurricane didn’t hit the house, but my host family’s home still got flooded and they lost most of their belongings.
After the flood, a lot of work needed to be done around the house. Still don’t know how but my host parents didn’t fall apart after losing most of their belongings. Seeing how brave they acted under those circumstances I knew that I had step it up and help kids through this time. The process of cleaning up after the flood was not easy but we worked hard, stayed united. My host parents and I tried to make sure we make this whole experience as fun as possible for kids, but I mean they all knew how devastating this whole thing is.
They showed great strength by staying positive and helping as much as they could. And I guess the moral of the story is when you sign up for being an au pair there is no limit to what can happen and it is all about standing your ground. I am thankful to my host family for setting a great example how to be great people and show me how to give hope to others when you seemingly lost a lot yourself. I am especially thankful for my host mum who inspires me every day and making it possible for me to receive the International Au Pair of the Year award.
Martin Toth embodies what it means to be an au pair in the U.S. and participate fully in the cultural exchange program. Congratulations to Martin on his award and his service to his host family.
Looking for the Perfect Addition for Your Family? Why You Should Host a Younger Au Pair
Hosting an au pair is a fantastic childcare option for many families because it is more cost-efficient than daycare and allows host families to participate in a cultural exchange with a young man or woman from another country. Whether you have hosted an au pair previously or are new to the program, you may be wondering what qualities would work best for your family in an au pair candidate. Younger au pairs are a great option for families who would like to add a valuable new member to their household, who can act as both a mother’s helper and a big brother or sister to the children. Hosting a younger au pair is a great option for many host families, and here’s why:
Younger au pairs are energetic: One of the best qualities that younger au pairs possess is great energy and excitement. They enjoy caring for children of all ages and have the stamina to keep up with busy schedules, sports activities, tidying up, and playing games.
Age does not reflect maturity: Although younger au pairs may seem inexperienced by American standards, most of the younger candidates who apply for the program have extensive hours from a variety of previous childcare experiences. Most of the candidates also come from large families and have spent years caring for their younger siblings and cousins. They may only be 18 or 19-years old, but they have developed great maturity from their work and personal experience. The important thing to remember is that an 18-year-old au pair candidate from abroad, is quite different than an 18-year-old American high school graduate.
They are coachable: Since younger candidates are still growing and learning themselves, they have a willingness to experience new things and learn about childcare from their host family. Younger au pairs are still forming how they best relate to children and thus are more willing to accept advice and tips from their host parents.
Although hosting a younger au pair might not be your first choice as a host family, it may very well turn out to be your best choice. One of our current host families, the Notos, explained that age was not a deciding factor at all and they encourage new host families to look for an au pair whose personality and interests best matched with their own family instead. They went on to say that “they would recommend a younger au pair a million percent, because their younger au pair became like a daughter to them, was always excited and willing to play with the kids, and faced every new challenge with determination.”
If you would like to learn more about our available younger au pair candidates or have questions about the au pair program, contact us today!
Au pairs are a great option for most families with small children. Before choosing the right candidate, you will want to learn more about the cultural differences and lifestyle of your au pair’s home country first.
As an au pair, Ukrainians have several advantages you might be surprised to learn:
Family values: Each Ukrainian family is rich with customs and traditions, which are passed down from generation to generation,creating cohesion and warm relations between parents and their children. Au pair participants from Ukraine would love to share these same values with their American family.
Food and culinary skills: In Ukraine, people like to cook and eat delicious meals. You will be delighted with the national Ukrainian cuisine. In addition, home food is healthy because it is cooked with natural products and ingredients. Your au pair may teach you how to cook borsch or cook vareniki with your children; it is fun and enjoyable!
Sports: In Ukraine, every child is fond of sports from an early
age, so your au pair will be physically active. Many young men and woman have experience doing gymnastics, dancing, and playing tennis.
Experience working with children: On an average, Ukrainian families have two or three children. Older ones take responsibility for caring and educating younger siblings, so your au pair already has priceless experience from babysitting in their own family.
Needlework: In Ukrainian schools, there are particular classes, where kids learn to draw, sew, sculpt, and knit. Au pairs will teach your kids to make interesting handmade arts and crafts, and share their unique hobbies with them.
Music: In Ukraine, most of the children attend music schools and usually can play at least one instrument. Your au pair may share these skills with your children too.
Swimming: Almost every Ukrainian au pair can swim well: some visit the pool, others improve their skills while traveling to the sea or river. These skills may be useful during a vacation with children.
Driving: Ukrainian au pairs are cautious and responsible drivers. To get a driving license in Ukraine, you need to pass a written test and a driving test. Ukrainian girls are extremely cautious. They have driving experience on imperfect roads and in traffic congestion in large cities. That’s why parents who are really worried about the safety of their child, should consider choosing a Ukrainian au pair.
Diligence: In Ukrainian families, from early childhood, kids are taught to be independent and help their mothers with chores around the house. A Ukrainian au pair will help you maintain the cleanliness and comfort of your home.
Initiative: Ukrainian parents always encourage their children to keep busy. They practice active leisure, trips, and excursions, which allow their children to develop and reach new horizons. In addition, au pairs take initiative and always care about a variety of pastimes. Ukrainian au pairs easily get along with children of any age. They treat them as their own kids-with care, attention, and love, so your children will always enjoy themselves around their au pair.
Now you understand why Ukrainian au pairs are appreciated not only in the USA, but all over the world. They will provide you and your kids with diligence and will have a responsible attitude towards their duties. You will definitely not regret hosting a Ukrainian candidate as your au pair!
To search for available Ukrainian au pairs, please visit the following link and type the search term “Ukraine”. Search For Au Pairs
Hosting an au pair is a great childcare option for many families. As you begin considering this cultural exchange program, you may be wondering what country you would like to learn more about. If you are looking for an au pair, you really should consider choosing an Italian girl for the following reasons:
SENSE OF FAMILY
In Italy, family time is very important and all family members spend a lot of time together. Usually Italian girls help their mothers with house duties. Moreover, their experience as babysitters starts very early, because in Italian families it’s common for older siblings to take care of younger siblings and cousins. Of course, this is just a starting point through which they develop their passion for children, and later on they may end up working as babysitters, educational entertainers (in summer camps, church, etc.) and as homework helpers.
FUN AND CREATIVE
Your kids will definitely have a good time with an Italian au pair because they are funny and creative. They have a good imagination and know how to capture children’s attention with original activities. They usually organize arts and crafts, and enjoy playing games in English.
CARE AND AFFECTION
Italian au pairs are really sweet and caring. Children become fond of them fast, as they play the role of a bigger sister, and treat them with kindness like a family member.
To obtain a standard driving license in Italy, applicants must be at least 18, as well as provide a medical certificate for eyesight, mental health, and physical condition. Obtaining a driver’s license in Italy is very expensive and includes a written test and a driving exam. Italians consider themselves to be good drivers, as they must learn to drive in difficult conditions, including driving on crowded main roads and dealing with traffic jams.
Last but certainly not least, if you like Italian food you don’t need to go out to eat at Italian restaurants anymore, because you will have your own personal chef at home! Besides preparing excellent meals for your kids, they can teach you how to make an excellent tiramisù or a homemade lasagna!
If you’re ready to welcome an au pair into your home, consider hosting an Italian candidate! We promise you won’t be disappointed! From the beautiful language to fascinating culture, hosting an Italian au pair will be a great experience for your family.
To see a list of the Italian candidates we currently have available to match, please visit our candidates page and type in the search term “Italy”!
Congratulations to Svetlana K. – Au Pair of the Year!
Svetlana was selected by Au Pair International among several contest entrants to be our next Au Pair of the Year!
After losing his wife to cancer 2 years ago, John decided that it would be beneficial to have additional support for his son Bryce in her absence. After contacting Au Pair International with his concerns, they both decided to welcome Svetlana into their home in May of 2012.
According to John, “Svetlana has become a mother, daughter, friend, sister and lifelong part of our lives. I can’t imagine her return to Russia in 6 months. At 22 years old, she has shown such maturity and compassion for Bryce and built a deep loving relationship with him. Bryce has truly benefited from her presence. With a huge hole in our home from the loss of Patty, Svetlana stepped in and helped Bryce feel loved and cared for during a situation that is difficult to imagine and understand.”
Svetlana is recognized as being an invaluable member of her host family and is the proud recipient of an Apple IPad!
To read more about Svetlana and read the nomination letters please Click Here!
Congratulations to our Au Pair of the Year Contest Runner Up Winners
Colecia and Marina!
Colecia L. from Jamaica – Nominated by the Robertson Family!
Colecia’s host mother writes “Collette has been a wonderful addition to our family. We have 5 young children and she came here with a joyful heart, eager to quickly bond with us, and a willingness to help. She went above and beyond to understand our children’s unique likes and dislikes, and became a “big sister” to them. Collette has also been a wonderful addition to our community. For example, a local family recently adopted several children from Haiti, some of which have a disability. One young girl in particular (the same age as my daughter) is a double-amputee and has only been in the United States for a few months. The little girl has learned English, gotten prosthetic legs, and is really enjoying her new life with her new family. One thing was missing though -her new family didn’t know how to properly care for her hair since she was from a different culture. Collette pitched in without being asked and helped their family know what to do, and has braided the little girls’ hair several times. This may seem like a small thing -but this was huge because it continued to give this little girl a more positive self-esteem and her smile now goes from ear-to-ear.
Click Here to read more about Colecia’s nomination!
Marina N. from Germany – Nominated by the McNeil Family!
According to her host family, “Marina has incredible patience and continuously goes above and beyond in creating new ways to teach, guide and encourage positive behavior in a calm atmosphere. Marina has always honored us as parents and takes great pride in continuing the parenting and discipline methods throughout each day from potty training to bedtime routines. She believes it’s important for the three of us to be on the same page to create clear messages of consistency and uniformity. Our two children Toren, who is 3 years old, and Sophia, who is 4, have built a very special bond with Marina that is unexplainably perfect. People often tell us, “Marina is so amazing with your children”, and “you are so lucky to have her” or “I honestly thought she was their mother because of the way she cares for them.” We have the greatest trust and respect for Marina and know she will always make the best decisions regarding our family in any situation.”
Click Here to read more about Marina’s nomination!
Invite your friends and enjoy the company of other au pairs from around the country as we explore famous tourist attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Central Park! Other exciting attractions include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Rockefeller Center. Don’t miss a chance to eat at the Hard Rock, see a show on Broadway, or pay your respects at the September 11th Memorial Site!
Cost To Attend: (Hotel and Subway expenses only)
– 2 star hotel/hostel: $400
– 2 star w/o Broadway Show: $300
– 3 star hotel/hostel: $550
– 3 star w/o Broadway Show: $450 ** A $50 Early Registration discount will be applied if paid in full by March 1st!
Attend University in New York for the Weekend!
Complete part of your Au Pair Program educational requirement in style! After visiting the sites of New York City you will have the option of staying for an additional 3 days from 4/25-4/27 to accomplish 3 credit hours of post secondary education at LIU Post University! The cost to attend will be an additional $350 and includes the following:
– Accommodations and 5 meals
– Transportation from the train station
– 3 Credit hour course of your choosing to include:
– Cultural Dynamics and American Society
– Marketing and Social Media
– History of American Music ** Classes fill up quickly so act FAST!
Contact Lisa Kempton for more information! LKempton@aupairint.com
Au Pair International is kicking off our Cultural Journey series where you will be exposed to the traditions, attractions, etiquette and cuisine of individual countries that participate in the United States Au Pair Program. Learn about the backbone that has come to define the culture of each country and be introduced to their au pair program participants that we currently have available for placement!
The first featured country in our Cultural Journey Series is France!
Home to over 65 million people, good fashion and good food is considered to be the epitome of what defines France as a country. This beautiful place has been called home by a countless number of poets, artists, actors, composers, and world-renowned chefs. From the talented Alexandre Dumas, Brigitte Bardot and Georges Bizet to fashion legends like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Coco Chanel. The French culture has made a lasting impression around the world and will continue to be a prominent influence for decades to come.
Anyone that has ever had the pleasure of visiting France, or aspired to do so, is familiar with the rich culture and iconic attractions that bring in millions of tourists each year. Those destinations listed below are just a small glimpse of the inspirational and awe-inspiring sites to behold that grace the countryside of France.
Palace of Versailles – This former French royal residence and center of government is now a national landmark located in the city of Versailles. The estate was officially declared the royal residence in 1682 and has housed such occupants as Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Louis-Phillippe. The palace boasts famous rooms like that of the Grands Appartements (State Rooms) and the Galerie de Glaces (Hall of Mirrors). It was in the Hall of Mirrors that the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919.
Mont Saint-Michel – A World Heritage Site located on an island just off the coast of Northern France. It is believed that Aubert, Bishop of d’Avranches, founded a sanctuary on Mont-Tombe at the request of the Archangel Michael. The Bishop built and consecrated a small church on the island on October 16th 709. More buildings continued to be erected through the 19th century at which time it was turned into a prison. Mont Saint-Michel is currently an international pilgrimage site that attracts people world-wide.
Musee du Louvre– The Louvre can be found in Paris, France and is not only a historic monument but one of the largest museums in the world. It is home to over 35,000 pieces of artwork, sculptures, and artifacts including the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, Liberty Leading the People, and Cy Twombly’s Ceiling. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace which began as a fortress that was built in the late 12th century under Philip II. The Louvre attracts an astonishing 8.5 million visitors per year!
Eiffel Tower – The Eiffel Tower has become known as a French icon and the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France. This iron latticed tower was named after its engineer Gustave Eiffel and was erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the World’s Fair. It is the most visited paid monument in the world and plays host to over 7 million people each year.
Christmas – Many old French traditions can be related to one holiday season or another. For example, holding a puppet show on Christmas Eve is a common occurrence, after which the children anxiously await the arrival of Père Noël (Santa Clause). Instead of the traditional American stocking, French children set out their shoes by the fireplace in the hopes they will be filled with presents by morning. Children also believe in Santa’s counterpart, Père Fouettard, who can be found giving out spankings to those children who were less than angelic during the year.
Easter – During the Easter season, children in France can also be found hunting the ever elusive Easter egg. Church bells fall silent starting the Thursday before Good Friday and will remain silent until Easter morning. It is believed that when the “Flying Bells” leave they take with them the grief and misery of the mourners of Christ’s crucifixion. They travel to Rome to visit the Pope and then make their return on the morning of Easter Sunday along with chocolate eggs which are hidden for children to find. As the bells toll for the first time it is tradition to hug and kiss those around you.
Bastille Day – Marking the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, Bastille Day is one of France’s most colorful traditions. Originally built as a medieval fortress, the Bastille eventually became a state prison. It was during the unrest of 1789 (on July 14th) that a mob approached the Bastille to demand the arms and ammunition stored there. When the guards resisted, the mob attacked and captured the prison releasing the seven prisoners held at the time. The taking of the Bastille signaled the beginning of the French Revolution and a symbol of the end of the ancien régime. The site had become associated by the people to the harsh rule of the Bourbon monarchy and was scheduled for demolition during the late 18th century.
Wedding’s – Made popular during the era of Napoleon, it is custom during wedding ceremonies to “behead” a bottle of Champagne using a saber. According to legend, Hussards (skilled cavalry men) under the general’s command started to celebrate victory by swinging their sabers and neatly slicing the tops from Champagne bottles.
Vacation – While the French Culture is home to many traditions, none are so envied here in the United States (or at least by this blogger) than that of the 5 week holiday! Yes you heard that correctly. Almost all French employees are entitled to 5 full weeks of paid holiday per year. And while they are blessed to live amongst the French countryside most natives can be found taking holiday elsewhere or skiing in the French Alps!
Whether preparing to welcome a French au pair into your home, or planning a trip to this culturally rich country, knowing proper etiquette can save you much embarrassment and ensure that your interaction is a pleasurable one. Listed below are but a few do’s and dont’s to know when interacting with the French.
First names are generally reserved for close family or friends of your French guest/host. Plan on using last names and appropriate titles unless you are asked to specifically use their first name.
As with most people, the French value their privacy. Refrain from asking personal questions unless you have established a clear friendship with your host/guest. While interviewing your French au pair it is quite appropriate to ask such questions that coincide with the intent of the program, however, be careful not to overstep your boundaries.
Telling your traditional jokes to break the ice may not be appreciated by your French host/guest. Instead, try engaging in intellectual conversation or offering up a bit of satirical wit. You will find that sharing funny stories that stem from real life situations are widely accepted.
Upon greeting family and close friends, the French often offer one another a kiss on both cheeks. If you are not among this set of people it is appropriate to shake hands with a quick light grip.
When meeting your French host/guest it is highly encouraged to gift high quality candies, cookies, cakes or flowers that are beautifully wrapped. Try to avoid gifts of 6 or 12 (for lovers) and gifts of odd numbers; especially that of the number 13. In addition, refrain from gifting chrysanthemums, red roses, or wine unless it is of the highest quality.
For more tips on French etiquette and discouraged gestures head over to EDiplomat!
The Evolution of French Cuisine
Modern French cuisine is among the most delectable and pleasurable dining experiences any food connoisseur will partake in. Likened to a well orchestrated musical composition, French cuisine focuses its attention on the freshness of ingredients and enhancement of the individual flavors that make up its composition as a whole. Both pleasing to the palate and pleasant to the eye, it is indeed poetry on a plate.
Modern French cuisine has undergone several changes during its lifespan to evolve into what it has become today. This evolution began in the 17th and 18th centuries when Marie-Antoine Careme started the process of refining each dish to enhance its flavors. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, world-renowned chef Georges Auguste Escoffier worked upon Careme’s accomplishments to further refine the recipes and help establish a more organized way for French restaurants to operate. Designating individual chefs to specialize on certain elements of a menu, Escoffier paved the way for modern-day French Cuisine to become a well oiled machine.
Below you will find the links to some traditional French cuisine recipes. Whether a novice in the kitchen or an accomplished chef, these dishes will be sure to please your discerning palate!
French Au Pairs
Are you in need of affordable live-in childcare? Au Pair International is fortunate to work with some amazing French partners that help our host families to introduce the French culture to their children! Together we are currently featuring the following French au pairs who are seeking host families in the U.S.. Upon clicking on their photos you will be taken to their personal profile on our website. If you have any questions or would like more information on becoming a host family please do not hesitate to contact us!