German Exchange Student Enjoys Spring in Alaska

CHI Academic Year Program student Pia, from Germany, is having a great time in Sitka, Alaska.  On March 31st the temperature reached 48 degrees so the teen ventured out with host mom and the family dogs, to enjoy the nice spring day.

AYP Pia 1

AYP Pia 2

Pia has been one busy girl this year.  She traveled by ferry to Alaskan cities, Wrangell, Haines and Juneau.  She joined the debate team and the cheerleading team.  She participated in the school play and enjoyed the start of the Iditarod race in Anchorage.  Pia often joins the family as they walk Grate Danes Mister and Guido.  Pia is fitting in perfectly.

AYP Pia 3

Posing with snowmen

AYP Pia 4

Cheerleading

AYP Pia 5

Showing off the Black Swan costume that she made herself in school


Spotlight Program: CHI Au Pair USA

Summer will be here before you know it. We all want our children to fill their long summer days doing worthwhile things. We want them to have fun while still being mentally challenged.

Welcoming an au pair is a wonderful option for parents to help them through the summer months and into the rest of the year. While you are hard at work, your children get to spend time with an energetic, caring au pair who will make sure they participate in all that summer has to offer – swimming, picnics in the park, riding bikes, playing sports.

In addition, the cultural benefits of an international au pair can broaden your child’s interest in the world. Your children can learn another language, try new food, and gain first-hand experience with someone from a brand new culture.

Au pairs are fully screened and come for 12 months with the possibility of a one-year extension. Don’t miss this great opportunity!

www.chiaupairusa.org

CHI Au Pair USA


Group Homestay Students Enjoy Spring in Washington

CHI Group Homestay Program students from Miyazaki, Japan are having a wonderful time visiting Olympia, WA.  In addition to seeing the beautiful cherry blossoms currently in bloom, the group spent time shadowing American teenagers, volunteering in the community and visiting the State Capitol.  They also toured a local elementary school, visited a cider mill and even had time for a little bowling.

GHP Washington


Spotlight Program: Academic Year Program (AYP)

Everyday we read and see on the news conflicts in countries all over the world. We see cultural differences that cause misunderstandings and instill mistrust. The world is a much smaller place than it was even five short years ago. Today, it is of the utmost importance that we all work together, that we all learn about each other’s culture and learn to understand and appreciate differences.

By hosting a student through the CHI Academic High School program, families can learn first hand about another culture right in their own home. By hosting, a family broadens their view of the world and children of all ages in the family will become familiar with other cultures, which will shape their thinking and give them a new global perspective. Hosting an exchange student offers an American family a new friendship and hosting gives the exchange student an experience of living with a “real” American family and having a second family to love.

We urge you to take this opportunity, open your home and your heart to a CHI exchange student. Become an American public diplomat, show the world how wonderful America really is and change a life forever.

www.chinet.org/ayp

ayp

 


CHI in the News: International Exchange Promotes Cross Cultural Experience

CHI Academic Year Program participant Wataru Ogasawara, from Osaka, Japan, is currently a senior at Nevada Union High School.  The 17-year old has had an amazing experience going to school and living with the McGee family.

Local Nevada County paper recently featured a story on Wataru and his experience in an American high school.

Read the article about Wataru and the McGee family


CHI Au Pair USA: Au Pair of the Year 2014

 

Each year, the International Au Pair Association (IAPA) chooses one deserving au pair as its Au Pair of the Year.  Host families nominate an au pair by writing a letter explaining how their au pair goes above and beyond.  This year, CHI Au Pair USA was thrilled to have eight of our outstanding au pairs nominated for this prestigious award.  All eight have made an exceptional difference in their host families’ lives on a daily basis, and serve as terrific examples of what being an au pair is all about.

CHI Au Pair USA LogoIAPA’s contest is extremely competitive, and this year an au pair from Germany from another agency was selected for their honor.  We wanted to show how we are truly grateful for our au pairs, and wonderful families, so we decided to create our own CHI Au Pair USA Au Pair of the Year contest.

Each nomination letter was read carefully, and CHI Au Pair USA chose Gina Marisol, from Colombia, as our winner.  Gina Marisol (who simply goes by ‘Marisol’) has a wonderful story, and her positive impact on her host family has been exemplary.

Here is a bit about Marisol and her Washington, D.C. host mom, Katie Jane Teel:  Late in life, Katie Jane unexpectedly became a single mom when she was granted custody of her niece Sienna, who was still in diapers at the time.  Having never spent much time around children before, let alone as a primary caregiver, Katie Jane knew it would be important to get help. While she looked into a nanny first, she felt that an au pair would be a more appropriate and affordable option.  She found the help she needed with Marisol, who quickly set up Katie Jane and Sienna with a workable routine, providing structure and playtime, and even teaching Sienna Spanish.  Katie Jane describes Marisol as “full of life and love.  A take-charge person, she is very organized and without her, we’d be bouncing from one disaster to another.  We just love her.” 

As the winner, Marisol receives a $400 American Express gift certificate.  In addition, all the wonderful au pairs nominated receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate.  CHI is proud to work with such talented and caring individuals as participants in our program.  Please take a moment to read their nomination letters.

CHI Au Pair USA would like to extend a big thank you to our host families and our au pairs for all you do.  Each of you is valued and appreciated!


Au Pair of the Year Nominee: Luis from Colombia

CHI Au Pair USA participant Luis, from Colombia, is currently staying in Sacramento, CA with his host family. Please enjoy his host family’s nomination letter:

I could begin by simply telling you that we have the greatest au pair beyond what we ever could have ever wished for our family….but instead, kindly allow my four children to explain why they love and appreciate Luis.

Eric, 6 years old: “Luis is the best soccer coach ever!  He helps me build my Lego sets and rainbow loom bracelets.  He teaches me Spanish.  He taught me how to be a better soccer goalie.  He drew all the super heroes for me.  He drives me to school every day and then helps all the other kids out of the car at school.  He plays games with me like air hockey, baseball and football catch, and we play monster at the park.”

(Luis coached Eric’s soccer team.  The comments from the other parents on the team were spot on:  “Luis, you are coaching again next year, right?”  Everyone loves Luis.  He volunteers at our elementary school during drop off time – helping young children out of their cars and ushering them with care into the school building.  The principal and office staff remark to us that they LOVE Luis – that he exudes a calm, positive, peaceful demeanor that is a wonderful model for others – adults and children!)

Gianna, 5 years old: “Luis plays the guitar for me and I can sing! He helps me with my school stuff in the morning like my lunch and my jacket.  He teaches me Spanish and we paint and do art.  Luis plays with me like doggie and gives me piggy back rides.”

(Luis has talents that I don’t think we even know about yet!  He plays the guitar – and even bought Eric and Gianna small guitars to practice together!   The kids crawl all over him, and Luis will play pretend with Gianna to her heart’s content!)

Troy, 2 years: “Weees, Love Weees, me love Weees!”

(What is truly amazing is that Troy can speak in Spanish OR English.  When he talks to “Weees” he speaks in Spanish – and in English to the rest of our family!  Truly remarkable that Troy is growing up completely bilingual.  WHAT A GIFT!  If Troy was able, he would articulate that Luis is one of his best buddies.  They play at the park together, go swimming in our pool together, and every other thing that 2 year olds do – Luis is there for Troy!)

Alexa, 1 year: “Ba, ba”

(Alexa would tell you that she too loves Luis.  He is her buddy at Music Together and is always there to offer a reassuring hand to hold, shoulder to fall asleep on, or body on which to jump and play!)

How lucky can one family be?  We are so blessed to have Luis in our lives.  He is not an au pair – he is a member of our family, and will forever be a part of our lives.  It is difficult to convey in words the feeling that my husband and I have when we see our children LIGHT UP when Luis joins us during breakfast time in the morning.  No words are enough to express the joy, comfort, and reassurance that our children are in the best hands possible.  To never worry for a moment – the confidence Luis gives us that our children are safe, happy, and THRIVING in his care.  We have had our friends tell us that they’ve seen Luis out with the kids and he’s one hundred percent attentive – even standing in the street to stop traffic so the children could cross the street safely.

He’s  always there to offer help.  Even after a busy day with the children, he’s helping to wash dishes at the end of dinner, helping to organize the play room and will be the first to greet me at the door to help me carry in the groceries!  Even Drake, our black lab, has been the recipient of Luis’ kindness, as Luis takes Drake for walks at night.

Luis has also been learning English and picking it up faster than we ever would have expected.  He’s taking English classes and his skill level has improved tremendously since he arrived!

Luis is staying a second year and we are overjoyed!  We are savoring every moment that he is here with our family.

We love Luis!


Au Pair of the Year Nominee: Dominika from Poland

CHI Au Pair USA participant Dominika, from Germany, is currently staying in Arlington, VA with her host family. Please enjoy her host family’s nomination letter:

Our au pair, Dominika Baranska, exhibits steadiness, creativity, and ability to go beyond the call of duty which make her a stellar example of an “au pair of the year” for 2013.

Dominika came to us as a transfer, so from the beginning; she exhibited her steadiness and inner strength. She adjusted to our busy family life in Washington, DC with our then almost two-year old and four-month old daughters. Throughout the course of this year, Dominika has truly become a member of our family.

Creativity bursts from the seams of Dominika. One day, I returned home from work, and our two-year old daughter ran up to me exclaiming, “Mama, look!” She proudly showed me a multimedia art project that included Popsicle sticks, tape, autumn leaves, crayon drawing, and acorn tops. That day, Dominika had arranged an autumn play-date with another au pair who was caring for two children. Together they met at the park, collected leaves and acorns, and created the pieces of art.

Dominika’s creativity adds to our family experience. We had an important family wedding to attend in Woodstock, New York. The wedding had a “hippie” theme. Since I had many responsibilities in the wedding, we asked Dominika if she would come with us and tend to the children while I completed my responsibilities. She said, “Sure”. We were up in Woodstock and Dominika had a break from her work duties, so she took a walk into the main street of Woodstock. When she came back, she surprised our whole extended family by wearing a hippie outfit she found on Main Street. She joined us and we all had a good time together.

Dominika’s steadiness was a huge asset to our family when my Polish grandmother passed away this year. Dominika is from Poland, so we share the Polish heritage. The day that my grandmother passed, Dominika kept her concentration on taking good care of the children. Dominika spoke and sang to them in Polish many times that day, and it calmed me down and made me able to continue to cherish the Polish heritage we share.

Dominika goes beyond the call of duty. Several times, we have left town for the weekend for various reasons. We return to the house to find it totally clean. Cleaning the house so thoroughly is not part of Dominika’s normal duties with us, but she happily does it time and again without complaint.

Weekly trips to the library are another way that Dominika goes beyond the call of duty. Dominika took the initiative to learn how to walk to the library with both babies. She takes them every week to story time at the library. With her, they get to choose some books to borrow from the library. Dominika reads to each child at least once a day.

We truly feel that Dominika is worthy to receive the “au pair of the year” award for 2013. Her steadiness, creativity, and ability to go beyond the call of duty make her stand out as a real gem to our family and the whole au pair program!

Dominika


Au Pair of the Year Nominee: Laura from Spain

CHI Au Pair USA participant Laura, from Spain, is currently staying in New York with her host family. Please enjoy her host family’s nomination letter:

Dear CHI,

We are writing to nominate our amazing au pair,Laura Arumi Arderiu, for Au Pair of the Year. Laura joined our family in September 2012, and has been an incredible addition to our family and a mainstay for new au pairs who come to our area. Her attitude and actions with the other au pairs really makes her esprit de corps stand out. We have been extremely fortunate to have her stay with us for a second year.

Laura always has activities planned for the kids and everything is always organized and well run in our home, Laura’s demeanor with our children, our now 6 year old girl and 3  1/2 year old boy, is wonderful. Each weekday, in a calm and collected manner, she manages to get each child fed a healthy warm breakfast, packed for lunch and out of the house for school, she picks up the little guy, feeds him lunch, meets our daughter at her school bus stop, helps her with her homework, takes them both to afternoon activities, makes them a healthy warm dinner each night and bathes them while we are at work. When there is down time, she always takes them for fun activities – whether it is an adventure at the park, an impromptu playdate, or another outing. Laura and our little boy are regulars at the library – where they participate in activities and always take out age appropriate books for the family, ‘We call Laura the “Pied Piper” of the kids, because all of our family members’ and neighbors’ children always want to play with her, sit next to her at the dinner table, etc. She always pays attention to when projects are due at school or new supplies are required – running to get them since she knows we do not always have the time. Laura has shown herself to be incredibly mature and capable, ‘Within her first month of coming to the United States, Hurricane Sandy hit and we lived without electricity for 10 days. Laura helped us throughout that 10 days and never complained about the multiple inconveniences we experienced.

Laura also embodies the cultural exchange aspect of the au pair program, While we are of course thrilled to have her Spanish speaking skills for our daughter’s inclusion in the Spanish-English dual language curriculum, we also share cultural traditions, For example, Laura shared a Catalonian tradition that she grew up with for Christmas – Tio – with our family for the holidays, Now the kids (and our neighbor’s kids) look forward to Tio and it has become part of our holiday traditions, Laura has always embraced the chaos that comes with our two culture family – sharing Jewish and Christian holidays with us, throwing herself into the different food preparation and other cultural exchanges. She has also introduced our family to several delicious Spanish dishes, such as Spanish omelets and different tapas, that have become a regular part of our repertoire.

Notwithstanding how well she fits in with our family, Laura serves as the unofhcial welcoming committee for any new au pair joining our relatively small cluster. Laura was only the second au pair to join the local cluster (the first aniving only weeks before her) and had to learn her way around on her own, Now Laura reaches out to all of the new au pairs before they arrive and makes plans to meet with them – either by herself or with a group of the other au pairs – immediately upon their arrival. Having learned to navigate New York City and its public transit system on her own, she takes all of the new au pairs for their first visit to the Big Apple and plans fun activities with them, including out of town adventures, Just last week, Laura guided the new au pair’s through the madness of the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, in bitter cold, even though she had already had the experience last year. She makes every new au pair feel welcome and shows them around so that they have someone to reach out to for purposes of sharing stories, comparing kid-related issues, and getting together socially. As a result of Laura’s leadership, the group has become very close, even though they are somewhat spread out geographically.

In short, we and the au pair program have been very lucky to have Laura. Between her excellent care for our children, her wonderful demeanor, and incredible sense of community that she has fostered in the au pair program, she has been a wonderful member of the program. It is for all of these reasons, and many others, that we think Laura truly embodies the spirit of the au pair program and wholeheartedly recommend her for Au Pair of the Year (or in our case, years).

We can provide many more specific examples of Laura’s wonderful ht with our family, If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Laura


Au Pair of the Year Nominee: Qingjie (Sunny) from China

CHI Au Pair USA participant Qingjie (Sunny), from China, was staying in Washington D.C. with her host family but has now returned home. Please enjoy her host family’s nomination letter:

We write to nominate Qingjie (Sunny) Peng as the International Au Pair Association’s Au Pair of the Year for 2013. Sunny was our au pair for two years from April 2011 to April 2013, caring for our daughter full-time from the age of 18 months to 3 1/2 years, and for our son, after school and during the summer, from age 5 to 7. During her time with us, Sunny went beyond the ordinary expectations of an au pair, and formed a lasting and loving relationship with our family.

Sunny most literally went beyond the call of the au pair program after the program ended. Sunny remained in the United States, moving to New York to attend school. But when our subsequent au pair suddenly had to return to her country, our family was truly in a bind. Both of us work full time, and the children were both out of school for the summer. Sunny generously came back to D.C. several times—rearranging her class schedule—to help us fill the gap until we could find a replacement. Sunny’s help was a life saver because our children’s most difficult times have been around child care transitions, and Sunny was a reassuring presence for them during a time of stress.

Sunny came to us from China, where she was an experienced preschool teacher.She quickly acclimated to Washington, D.C., navigating public transportation and independently planning daily outings for the children to parks and museums. She brought with her a love of teaching, limitless energy, and a “sunny” disposition that brightened our household and helped our children attach to her. At the same time, Sunny struck a good balance between having fun with the kids and disciplining them when necessary and according to the household rules. (In fact, Sunny became known among our network of friends with au pairs as the one the children respected the most.) At our request, Sunny spoke to both of our children only in Mandarin and provided homework assistance in both Mandarin and English to our son. She did an excellent job using a variety of techniques to effectively engage and instruct the children, and we believe her efforts contributed to their success in school.

Sunny also overcame several challenges while she was with us. The first challenge was to make a connection with our son, who can be slow to warm to new people. Almost immediately upon her arrival, Sunny began forming a bond by creating opportunities for him to engage with her in areas (like sports and play) where he is most comfortable. At the same time,she built his respect and trust by being consistent and enforcing our limits and rules. Most of all, Sunny broke through by being patient. She eventually became great friends with our son, and continues to be in contact even after her program concluded.

Sunny also deftly handled unexpected crises during her au pair years. In 2011, Washington, D.C. was hit by an earthquake while Sunny was caring for the children. Although she had never experienced an earthquake before, Sunny instinctively gathered the children and our pet, brought them outside, and called us to let us know they were all safe. Sunny also demonstrated a keen instinct for protecting our children. Living in a city sometimes means encountering people displaying erratic behavior or acting belligerently—situations that are even more difficult to maneuver with small children in tow. In several instances, Sunny removed the children from such situations, and any chance of harm, even if it meant changing plans or going off schedule. We believe that kind of instinct is as rare as it is invaluable.

We were delighted to invite Sunny to continue to be our au pair for a second year, and doubly delighted when she agreed. During her second year, Sunny continued to provide excellent child care and Chinese-language instruction, while strengthening her bonds to our family. We were so pleased with Sunny that we asked her to help “train” our next au pair, not only on the needs of our household, but also on living in and navigating Washington D.C. with our children.

We truly feel that Sunny has become a part of our family and that we will stay in touch with her after she completes her studies, and wherever life takes her.

Sincerely,
Shelley and Jack

sunny


Search

Categories

Archive

Blog Tags

Latest Tweets