Ale Cuervo joined the Au Pair program because she enjoys working with children. In her hometown of Bogota, Colombia, she worked as a neonatal nurse and “spent most of [the] time taking care of newborns.” Since she wanted to continue working with kids, improve her English, travel, and explore the U.S., the Au Pair program sounded like a perfect fit.
However, Ale’s start in the program wasn’t all smooth flying. She arrived in Baltimore, MD in March 2018, but says, “I did not have the best experience.” Ale’s and her first family had a misunderstanding about driving abilities and needs, and the family decided to terminate the placement.
Her first rematch might have gone too quickly, as both Ale and the new Host Family felt a sense of urgency to complete the match quickly. When she arrived, Ale found that the children were aggressive toward her, and her Host Parents didn’t want her to speak English in the house. (Ale’s second family is no longer allowed to continue in the program with Go Au Pair, due to violations of program regulations).
In March 2018, Ale told her Placement Coordinator, “I’m not learning… I can’t understand them.” Ale began to feel uncomfortable in the home, complaining that she wasn’t allowed to cook certain food because it didn’t meet the family’s dietary restrictions.
“After bad experiences with two families, I was starting to think that this Au Pair program was not going to work for me,” Ale says. “But [then] I met Luke and Sam & they made me believe again in myself and be confident in this new country.”
Third Time’s the Charm
Today, Ale says it was eye-opening to match with a family that was “a good fit.”
“[They] made me feel happy and comfortable in a new place. Every day we work like a team, and they make me feel like a part of their family.”
In fact, they have been so wonderful to her, Ale nominated them for the 2018 #LoveMyHostFamily Contest. Her story made 2nd Place.
“These last few months living with them made me grow up and want to share more about myself with the world,” Ale said in her nomination essay. “I am learning more about this country and the American culture every day thanks to my family.”
Ale says the dynamics are different in the household. “I feel comfortable enough now to talk about everything,” she says, explaining that her new Host Parents are there to help her with anything she might need, “[even] if I need to make an important decision or just need some advice.”
Communication is important to both Ale and her current Host Parents. “We usually have Friday or Saturday family meetings to talk about our feelings, our cultures, and to learn more about each other. They encourage me to share with them about my culture and they teach me about theirs.”
Part of the Family
Not only has the Dyndal-Katz Family helped Ale feel comfortable and acclimate to life in the U.S., but they even invited her on a family vacation to Aruba, “their favorite place.” They noticed how much Ale misses her mom, so they invited her along, too.
“They know how important family is to me,” Ale says.
Ale’s English has improved since she placed with the Dyndal-Katz Family. She attributes her success to their help, explaining that every day she broadens her vocabulary and improves her conversation skills. This was one of Ale’s goals in coming to the USA.
“Thanks to my dear Host Family, I am able to still be here achieving my goals.”
Ale says she is grateful for this experience and left us with some words of encouragement for Au Pairs who are going through the Rematch process.
“[They] allowed me to see that there are families willing to welcome an Au Pair like me.”
Many Au Pairs Rematch—and it’s not always a bad thing!
Rematching happens to many Au Pairs, and it can be a worrying moment.
You just arrived in the U.S., thinking you were about to achieve your dream.
Only, now you find that you & your Host Family aren’t a good fit.
Like Ale, you may be expected to follow rules that weren’t discussed in the interview, or maybe you just don’t feel like you’re able to bond with the Host Family. Or maybe you’re just uncomfortable for a variety of reasons.
Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to give your new living arrangements a chance. It can take weeks before you feel completely comfortable, and it may take longer to feel like your host’s house is your home, too.
However, if you feel unwelcome, or if you feel that your Host Family has violated any of the terms of your contract, it’s important to speak up as soon as possible.
Open Communication is Vital
Amanda, Manager of Placement Success at Go Au Pair, shares her insights. “It is very important to bring up any concerns or issues that you have within a placement, right away.” Amanda has assisted Host Families and Au Pairs experience successful placements for X# years, and she says strong communication is paramount to success.
“Many times a family may not even realize there’s a problem. Open communication about the issue is necessary. That way, you get the problem out in the open, and resolve it right away.”
However you choose to address an issue, it’s important to bring things up the same day it begins to bother you. The longer you allow something to sit, the more difficult it can become to resolve the issue.
It’s also worth noting that Americans perceive initiative and open communication in a positive light. Expressing your concerns shows your Host Parents how dedicated you are to building a positive relationship.
Many times, Au Pairs are pleasantly surprised to find out how flexible their Host Parents can be in helping them work through any discomfort they might be feeling.
This advice goes both ways. Both parties should address anything that makes them uncomfortable. No matter how small it may seem at first, just talk to one another. Chances are, if you are uncomfortable with something, the other party might feel the same way. Au Pairs can be especially hesitant to bring up an issue; Host Parents can assist with this by paying attention to their Au Pair’s body language and unspoken responses.
If speaking face-to-face doesn’t help the situation, it’s vital not to ignore the issue.
Still have questions?
Reach out to Jenni Au Pair Sis on Facebook, or check out the Au Pair Mom’s advice on Rematching. (Au Pair Mom is not affiliated with Go Au Pair… but she does have some awesome advice).
Considering hosting a Rematch Au Pair? Here are some things to consider:
- It’s important to give a Rematch Au Pair the same level of screening & interviewing as you would an out-of-country Au Pair. Don’t rush into a placement just because they can arrive at your home quickly.
- A bad experience in the past doesn’t necessarily indicate poor performance. Au Pairs, like children, just need a supportive environment which allows them to flourish.
- Ask your Placement Coordinator about the reasons for the Rematch. Personality conflict is the #1 reason for transitions. You’ll want to find out if there are any red flags or deal-breakers for you.
- Be honest with yourself about your needs & go with your gut feeling, the same way you would with any other Au Pair.
- Encourage the Au Pair you are considering to be open with you. She may be timid about bringing up concerns due to fear of not finding a new family.
- Talk about your expectations, and hers, in detail. Understanding each other’s expectations is the first step toward a successful placement.
- If you choose to match with her, do anything you can to make her feel at home right away. Ask what foods she likes, what her bedroom is like at home, or what amenities she was used to back home.
- Watch her body language carefully, especially during the first two weeks.
- Keep an open mind & heart. Be patient, and offer guidance to help your new Au Pair get started the right foot.
- Show her you care through everyday gestures & invite her to become part of your family rather than an outsider.
The #1 Takeaway
It’s important to remember that no one, Au Pairs or Host Families, deserves to be uncomfortable in their own home.
Jennifer, one of our Host Moms who has gone through a Rematch, encourages both Host Families and Au Pairs to be persistent in finding a solution that makes everyone comfortable, even if it means exhausting all your resources or going into Rematch.
“I’m the kind who will fight for it, you know? I even got a translator for the first three weeks… I would just tell anyone who’s in the program, don’t give up.”