Each year, we ask our Cultural Care Au Pair host families for nominations for the Au Pair of the Year award sponsored by the International Au Pair Association, or IAPA, and each year we are overwhelmed by the heartwarming essays showcasing au pairs that are making a tremendous difference in the lives of the children for whom they care.
Au pair programs around the world can submit up to three nominations for the International Au Pair of the Year Award and it is always difficult to select three from the many wonderful applications that we receive. Our staff rate the essays and then vote for their top choices. We are happy to share the nomination essays for our three semi-finalists:
Isabel Hermenau from Germany who takes care of two girls who have faced many challenges this year — a community tragedy, a devastating hurricane and a mom with cancer. “This might have frightened away many prospective au pairs, but fortunately for our family, Isi does not scare easily. We have learned that she embraces challenges with courage and competence,” says her host mom. “We feel she has made the happy moments of our lives even more joyous and has helped us manage the challenging times in ways that transformed them into positive memories and lessons for our daughters.”
Pilar Torres from Colombia who cares for three children Her host mom writes, “She plays games, rides bike, orchestrates plays and puppet shows, paints and draws with them, goes for walks and ‘hunts for bears’, and cleans up after watching three little chefs in the kitchen, all while somehow figuring out the needs and wants of two little girls whose language is significantly delayed.” Pilar has managed to beautifully care for the children with exuberance and grace while also being the first in her Colombian university to complete her BA degree and present her thesis via Skype.
Franziska Stahl from Germany who takes care of three children, each with special medical needs. She has also helped during two unusual and difficult situations. Her host mom writes, “She helped me keep my kids safe and content during Hurricane Sandy, during which we were without power for nine days. She then helped protect my kids’ innocence when we dealt with multiple school lockdowns in the fallout from the tragedy in Newtown, CT, which is right in our backyard and immensely personal. She was strong and supportive and nurturing and I could not have done it without her.”
In addition to selecting three semi-finalists to submit to the International Au Pair Association, Cultural Care also recognizes the top-rated nominations in each state and selects state Cultural Care Au Pairs of the Year. This year’s honorees are:
Cultural Care is grateful for the au pairs who go above-and-beyond in their roles and for the host families who take the time to acknowledge these outstanding young men and women. We are also thankful for IAPA’s International Au Pair of the Year award as an important way to recognize not only one young person’s achievements as an au pair, but to salute the efforts of all au pairs around the world.