When Cultural Care au pairs arrive to the U.S. to begin their year, they spend the first four days at our Au Pair Training School in New York, located on the Oakdale campus of St. John’s University. You may know that au pairs spend the week reviewing child safety and development, earning Red Cross certification in adult and pediatric CPR/AED and First Aid and speaking a whole lot of English. But you might not know these fun facts about our au pairs’ first special week in the U.S.:
1. The Training School operates 49 weeks out of the year. With the exception of Thanksgiving week and two weeks in December, our school is open and welcoming new au pairs all year long.
2. The Training School sits on 175 beautiful acres of land on the south shore of Long Island. Au pairs have a beautiful view of the South Shore Bay and Fire Island and share their surroundings with lots of wildlife including deer, swans, rabbits and a fox!
3. Au pairs whose host families are in the same city or region of the country are roomed together so they can more easily maintain their friendships once they leave the school.
4. All Training School staff lives on campus—in the dorms, right alongside the au pairs! They are available during the day as needed and 24/7 in case of emergency.
5. In addition to Cultural Care Training School staff, we have 16 teachers on our roster. They are a dedicated and enthusiastic bunch and include former ESL teachers, retired schoolteachers, active schoolteachers (with us during the summer months), and one who is also a part-time yoga teacher.
6. Lizzie Guerra, the Training School Director, was an au pair herself for a French family in France and Spain as well as an English teacher in Morocco. She walked across the country of Spain in 33 days before returning home to the U.S. and accepting the position at our Training School in March 2014.
7. Our largest group of au pairs to date—383 in total—arrived to the Training School on January 1, 2015. That means a whopping 86 pizzas were ordered for their Welcome Pizza Party in the lounge!
8. There are always a few grumbles about the Training School food but it’s not that bad—we promise! Breakfast always includes slow-cooked oatmeal, cereal, eggs and fruit. Lunch and dinner options include a fresh salad bar, hot meal option and dessert. Snacks are available during class breaks at our “Snack Shack” and proceeds go to the Cultural Care Kids First Foundation.
9. All au pairs learn the same curriculum but classes are organized by English level. Those who need more English support are in the same classes during the week so the teachers know to go a bit slower and expect more questions.
10. Au pairs’ schedules at the Training School are very full. But there are breaks during the day and evenings off to relax, practice English with other au pairs and be in touch with friends and family back home. It is a busy week for our au pairs, but one that prepares them for the year ahead and is also a lot of fun!
Au pairs, what did you love most about the Au Pair Training School? Do you have a favorite moment, a favorite teacher, a favorite staff member or a favorite class to share? What is the most important thing you learned while there? Share your story with us.