Each year, the International Au Pair Association (IAPA) asks Au Pair host families to help them select an Au Pair of the Year. Host families nominate their au pair by writing a letter explaining how their au pair goes above and beyond.
This year, CHI Au Pair was thrilled to have some of our outstanding au pairs nominated for this prestigious award. They all make 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.
We’d also like to thank their amazing host families and dedicated and caring Regional Coordinators.
Meet some of our 2020 Au Pair of the Year Nominees:
Franco Fontana, from Argentina
The Williams Family
Regional Administrator: Frances Barbour
“Franco is an exceptional au pair for many reasons. He has a very strong work ethic and has no trouble helping out in the household as a family member does. He is self-motivated and proactive; he was already thinking of ways to help get the boys ready for school on his second day with us. I didn’t even have to ask – he seemed to read my mind to help with the all things that need to happen each morning to get everyone out the door.
After just a few days he oriented himself to our town and was comfortable with our boys, ages 9, 7, almost 4. He is very active, and enjoys playing with the boys and somehow is still able to keep the house organized and feed them before they are dying of hunger. I am a busy sports medicine doctor and my husband has 2 jobs, a real estate agent and owning/managing a cycling coaching company, and we are so happy to have finally found someone whom we can trust entirely to help us keep the kids organized, safe and happy! I never worry that something will be missed during the day while I’m focused on my busy work day.
These past 4 months with Franco have been the first time I have felt completely at peace while I’m working, knowing that everything is taken care of. He commands respect from our boys and still enjoys playing with them, jumping on the trampoline, playing soccer or hanging out.”
Elizabeth Violeta Cox Teran, from Ecuador
The Hough Family
Regional Administrator: Dayna Charalambous
“From the moment Violet walked into our home, my youngest son, Ryan, took to her. My older son took some more time. My husband and I had recently been divorced, so I knew the transition to Au Pair for my older son was going to be difficult. We had explained to Violet that he might be resistant, and she understood without any fault or hesitation. Violet was gentle with him and patient, and she allowed him to adjust to her at his own pace. Violet even went as far as to attend play therapy sessions with him, which meant the world to us.
It didn’t take long for Jackson to warm up to her – how could it? She was loving and nurturing and fun. He soon realized that he had a new best friend! Violet is the best playmate. They play with sand, play dough, pain, construction vehicles, cars, puzzles – you name it, they do it. There is a constant game of hide and seek and tag, and violet plays.
Violet does many activities with us and purely enjoys each one. Her excitement is contagious. Even when Violet isn’t working, she loves to attend events with us, especially family events! She has been at birthday parties, holidays, family dinners – you name it, she joins us!”
Mai Dao, from Viet Nam
The Smith family
Regional Administrator: Rachael Strieter
“When Mai arrived in April 2019, she came prepared with educational books and toys for our son Matthew, who warmed up to her immediately. She took an active role in his education, reading to him every day, downloading worksheets from Education.com and teaching him new things. Before, long, Matthew’s speech improved by leaps and bounds and he is now on par with his peers in terms of communicating effectively. Furthermore, he has started reading, can trace letters and even do simple addition and subtraction at only 2 years old! None of this would have been possible without Mai’s dedication, patience, and consistency.
Our youngest son Ryan also took to her in ways that we did not expect. We recently celebrated his 1-year birthday and Mai was instrumental in making it a special day to remember. She made beautiful handcrafted collages of photos from his first year capturing sweet milestones – it was a hit at the party! Ryan loves her and often cries when she goes out.
Mai has won the hearts of our entire family, including both sets of grandparents who are themselves former educators. Living in a multi-generational household with family members who speak different languages can be challenging. Yet, despite our hectic family life, Mai has always stayed positive, flexible, and pleasant to be around.”
Carol Moreno, from Colombia
The Arevalo Family
Regional Administrator: Dayna Charalambous
“When we found out we were having twins to say we were feeling overwhelmed would be an understatement. Our oldest was 4 at the time and in many ways we felt our lives couldn’t get any crazier. We considered many different options but came to the conclusion that having an au pair would be the best one.
After interviewing several potential au pairs we found Carol Moreno, from Bogota, Colombia. From the initial interview, we could tell that Carol would be an amazing match for our family. Over the course of the past 6 months she has become a part of our family and it’s difficult to imagine how we would manage without her. Carol has a gentle, compassionate nature that makes everyone in our home feel comfortable and at ease.
During Carol’s stay I’ve come to the realization that the cultural exchange that occurs not only benefits the children but the family as a whole. We have discussed the political, cultural and economic differences between Colombia and the United States over dinners. The program has made us aware of our cultural biases and our privilege. We realize how important education and life experiences can be in creating opportunities.”
Carla DeVilliers, from South Africa
The Sedaca Family
Regional Administrator: Sarah Fraidin Roggie
“Simply put, Carla is a posterchild for the ideal au pair. She is deeply committed to each of our children’s well-being, has an amazing attitude, and is an extraordinary ambassador from her country while enjoying ours. She is our seventh au pair, and we can state without reservation that she is extraordinary.
Carla has seamlessly and easily stepped into our fast-paced household with two full-time working and traveling parents, three different schools, three different instruments, three different sports team, and a whole host of other activities, which change daily. She stays on top of every detail, and always goes far above and beyond her required duties. She often proactively addresses the children’s needs, makes suggestions about schedules, and stays a step ahead of each of us. We never think twice about whether the schedules, drop-offs, and activities will be handled properly; with Carla they always are.
She has immersed herself in American culture, eagerly seeking to understand and experience all that it has. She is respectful of the difference and curious about understanding American way of life. And she is an amazing Ambassador from her home country of South Africa.”