Hi! My name is Viviana Casallas and I am from Bogota, Colombia. I arrived in Minnesota 9 months ago as the third AuPair of the Brooking-Kegelaar family. I came to the United States alone, without my family, without friends, without knowing anyone more than my host family; afraid of not being able to adapt to a new country completely different from mine. However, my desire to learn about another culture gave me enough strength to face this new adventure.
Of course, this would have not been easy without the Brookings’ love, and thanks to them, being an AuPair has been an amazing experience, that is why I would like to nominate them as THE BEST HOST FAMILY EVER. There are many reasons to love them and consider them the best family because since the day they picked me up from the airport they have made me feel so special and welcomed into their family. However, there was a particular moment I had realized my life had changed for the better because of my host family.
My “AHA” moment was in Thanksgiving 2018 -two months after arriving in Minnesota- it was my first time celebrating this holiday because in Colombia we do not celebrate this tradition. That night, the family was hosting a party with their closest friends, so we ate some of the traditional meals such as turkey, sweet potatoes and salad. After dinner, we talked about our lives and the things we were grateful for by playing a card game that asked us personal questions.
At Thanksgiving, Family Says They’re Most Thankful for Viviana
Those questions required us to think retrospectively, and self-reflect on everything over the past year, every person in the room had to respond to the same questions, one of those questions were “what are you more thankful for this year?” And every person in the room said they were grateful for me and they were happy with me because I adapted to the family almost immediately, and of course I was more than thankful for the Brooking family because even though I was far from my family, every day I felt at home.
However, that has not been the only moment that I have felt grateful for them. For example, every Saturday night we have “date night” where we sit together to talk and share a special meal. Accompanied by a little wine, we open our hearts, we laugh, dance and cry, sharing our experiences in life. Besides, they always include me in their plans and make feel part of them, I feel that comfortable with them that I even say “Opa” and “Oma” to the girls´ grandparents.
Almost ten months later, I still feel the same, they are the most loving family I have ever seen, they inspire me and make me want to have a family like them, where respect, love, and teamwork are the pillars of a family. Angelique is the sweetest woman on earth, Matt has special “dad jokes” that make me laugh a lot, and the girls are like little sisters to me.
“If we have love and a united family, we are more than rich.”
Eight hundred words are not enough to explain why the Brooking-Kegelaar family are the best, but I sure can say that the person I was a year ago is not close to the person I am today, I have learned a lot from them. For example, that it does not matter what difficulties we face in life, because if we have love and a united family we are more than rich, that is the biggest wealth we can have. There is no doubt that living in Minnesota with the Brooking family has been so far one of the best experiences of my life and pleasantly I will keep them in my heart forever.