Dear Cultural Homestay International,
We, the Parker family, are very excited to nominate our wonderful au pair, Birte Storms, for the Au Pair of the Year award. When we first read we needed to post a video or just photos, we thought, “What? How can we really share what we love and admire about Birte without using words and writing about her?” Our videography and technology skills are limited enough that we (and our nomination) would be handicapped if we only used these methods. So, we hope you, the committee, will take the time to read this essay as well as to enjoy the photos we will share below, all of which will highlight the many qualities that make Birte so qualified to be the CHI Au Pair of the Year.
Birte has been with our family since January, 2017, and from the very start we have felt incredibly lucky to have her as our au pair. Her enthusiasm, desire to learn and to help the family, friendship, energy, hard work, and great attitude have never let up, even when she faced lack of sleep by having a room right next to the baby! (And no, he doesn’t always sleep through the night!) She is always on time, upbeat, and has also been very flexible – something we so appreciate as our family’s needs seem to change each week. If things aren’t working well, which sometimes they don’t, Birte communicates and lets us know what is wrong so that we can work out any differences quickly and put necessary structures/changes in place. Her positive attitude has remained during her full time here and we are excited to have Birte extend her stay with us for a second year, through 2018.
Birte is endlessly willing to help, is able to see how to assist without have to being told, roles up her sleeves in less-than-fun ways (think vomit!), and anticipates what the boys or our family needs. She helps with cooking, tidying, the dogs, the boys, the laundry, the house – and never once has complained. She is a true friend to us (the parents) and a great second Mom to Dillon, Craig, and Angus. She is creative, loves to come up with art projects, and takes the boys on fun outings. Discovery Museum, hikes, parks, parades, and Six Flags – all locations of past adventures with the boys. Don’t think she is a pushover either – she believes in discipline and is not afraid to teach the boys how to behave when they make mistakes!
While we’ve shared many things about why Birte is an awesome au pair, we also think her personal qualities are extraordinary. Making friends is easy for her as Birte is friendly, outgoing, and a self-starter. She helps other au pairs with their problems, is a good listener, and has created an online vlog to showcase what it is like to be an au pair in California. Birte spends time planning fantastic trips for au pairs (next weekend: Carmel and Big Sur!) and seems to do all the organizing herself so everyone has a safe and productive time. Adventure is her second name – Birte tries new things, whether that is Japanese food, going to the gay pride parade in San Francisco, or taking amazing hikes by herself because friends aren’t free to join. She is fun to be with and around! She has shared her culture with us and we’ve loved eating her Belgian waffle and stews, trying beers and chocolate from her home country (awesome combo – try them together!), and cheering for the soccer team from Belgium. We can’t wait to visit her in Belgium one day, as we know she’ll make a fantastic tour guide!
Birte is a true part of the family and joins us for dinners, holidays, birthday celebrations, and local outings. She has laughed and cried with us and vice versa. None of us like to think of life without her when she heads back to Belgium, although we know that time will come. In conclusion, David, the boys, and I would all like to give Birte our 100% nomination for CHI Au Pair of the Year!
Thank you for reading this and best wishes to all.
Lisa and David Parker
Birte also has a wonderful vlog where you can follow her life as an au pair. One of her goals with the vlog is to be able to share her experience as an au pair with other potential au pairs. To answer their questions, to encourage them, and to highlight how great the experience can be if someone really tried to make the most of it. She has truly spent hours helping other au pairs, even those who are just considering it (from Belgium) and so ends up talking a lot with people about the experience, how to handle host family issues, etc. She is a mentor to others and is able to see the au pair and the host family’s perspective, something I’m not sure all au pairs can do.