Au Pair Carmen Duran, of Ecuador, wrote to Go Au Pair to nominate the Mooney Family for the 2018 #LoveMyHostFamily Contest. Her incredible story made 3rd place, and it isn’t hard to see why.
A United Family
Carmen says her Host Family is a “united family.” She calls her Host Parents “a vision of what I want when I get married.”
Carmen anticipated learning about American culture, improving her English, and traveling. But she says, “I had not imagined that with the Mooney Family, I would get much more than that.”
Right from the start, her Host Parents and Host Kids bonded with Carmen in their own unique ways. One of the Mooney children, Ellery, noticed Carmen writing down lists of words she didn’t know. Ellery took it upon herself to provide definitions.
Carmen says, “She began to give me the definitions with examples without me asking her. It was very cute she did that for me. After that she told me, ‘Now that you know those words, you can play Uno attack with me.'”
This exchange might seem ordinary on the surface. However, these simple moments can have a profound effect on language development. Anyone who’s tried to learn a foreign language knows the importance of immersion and native practice, but Carmen’s Host Family went one step further to help her out.
“Brice is always available when I have grammatical doubts,” Carmen explains. “My Host Family is very aware that my goal is to improve my English. Everyone supports me with love and patience to achieve that goal.”
It’s not just the kids who assist Carmen, either. Both Host Parents have taken an active role in assisting with language development.
“My Host Dad has patience in repeating things or talking slowly, and even spelling new words that I do not know. He really cares that I understand, and that makes me feel loved. He does not ignore me.”
She also explains that her Host Mom is “very kind” and always available to offer “ideas to practice my English.”
Carmen is the Mooney Family’s ninth Au Pair, so it’s no wonder they seem so skilled at meeting her needs. They seem to understand that being great Host Parents is about more than simply providing a comfortable living space.
Host Parents Support Cultural Exchange
It isn’t just about improving language skills, either. For Carmen, the cultural exchange experience has been an accumulation of little moments, like playing Uno Attack or meeting her Host Family’s extended family members.
“It’s fun to see our different customs when it comes to eating, especially when I put fried Lays and mayonnaise on my hot dog.”
“Something I find very pleasant,” says Carmen, “is that they are connected to their previous Au Pairs and do activities when they can.” She goes on to explain that during a family vacation to Michigan, she and the Mooney Family were joined by the family’s fourth Au Pair.
“We shared anecdotes and we did many activities together.” Together with her Host Family, they went “fishing, wakeboarding, riding motorcycles, hiking, cooking together, and making s’mores.”
The Mooneys aren’t the only family to bring back their past Au Pairs after the placement has ended. This Host Mom, Holly, invited all four of her past Au Pairs to her home for the 4th of July this year.
Another Host Mom, Jill, just welcomed her second Au Pair into her home, and says she purposely chose a Colombian Au Pair both times, so she and her family could visit them on vacation.
Ale Cuervo, another #LoveMyHostFamily participant, says her Host Family even invited her mother on their family vacation.
Stories like this embody the heart of the Au Pair program, which has a way of building worldwide families.
Carmen agrees that this is an important aspect of the program. She says, “Not only you made me spend a pleasant moment, but also the eight Au Pairs before me. You have been an important part of our lives for our personal growth, and that is why I nominate the Mooney Family, because they have had the patience and love to live with [all] their Au Pairs.”
Modeling a Loving Family
The Mooney Family was able to play a part in helping Carmen achieve her goals in the Au Pair program. But more than that, it seems Carmen’s Host Parents unwittingly gave her a strong example of what a healthy family can look like. This is something parents throughout the world strive to do for their own children.
She says the Mooneys are a prime example of a family that “loves each other and supports each other.” Without even meaning to, Carmen’s Host Parents naturally did for her what any parent does for their own kids.
It’s no secret that kids learn from their parents’ marriage behavior and often model similar behaviors themselves in adulthood; however, it’s unlikely Carmen’s Host Parents thought their habits and relationship would have an impact on their Au Pair.
This story shows how it’s not about going out of your way to create an amazing experience for your Au Pair.
It’s not about what you give her, or where you take her.
It’s about your motivation and all the little things you do for someone when you care for them.
And all those little things come right back to you. Carmen’s nomination essay was just one little thing she did in return.
“Thanks to them,” she says, “I have a vision of what I want when I get married. Thanks to them, I have a nice experience in the program because they give me human warmth… They make me feel like family.”