January 19, 2021

2021 Au Pair of the Year finalists

Congratulations to our inspiring finalists!

9 minutes
Cultural exchange

2020 was a year full of challenges, but we can say with certainty that our au pairs and host families turned lemons into lemonade. They used the extra time together to form deeper relationships and learn about each other’s cultures in meaningful ways (including lots of cooking!). Together, they found joy and discovery in the small daily moments that make life beautiful.

We have never received more nominations for the Au Pair of the Year award than we did this year, and every nominee is truly deserving of this honor. Our 15 amazing finalists represent all of the au pairs who demonstrated courage, resilience, creativity and compassion this year. We invite you to read more about our finalists and cast your vote for our 2021 Au Pair of the Year. Congratulations to our finalists and to all of our Au Pair of the Year nominees!

Karen, au pair from Argentina

Nominated by the Van Wieran family

“Karen has been the superhero our frontline family needed. Her ability to adapt during a pandemic that completely changed her role is unmatched. She did this with joy, innovation, and exceptional communication. In light of all this, she still managed to achieve her incredible goals of learning English and starting her career as a pilot! Karen is our first au pair, and she has become a bigger part of our family than we ever expected. To our au pair daughter, Karen, we love you!”

Herschelle, au pair from South Africa

Nominated by the Raynham family

“The first photos we saw of Herschelle, were of him pulling a tractor in South Africa. We instantly knew that he was ready for any challenge, and pretty fearless. 2021 has been a tough and scary year. As a family, we have pulled through. And Herschelle, our au pair, is one of the reasons why we succeeded. He always has this most amazing smile, exudes positive energy, and never says no. 2021 is the year for kindness and compassion, and Herschelle exudes these qualities. Since Herchelle arrived, we have daily visitors—the neighborhood kids, who just want to be with him, or talk with him, or even walk our dog with him. Wherever Herschelle goes, he has a following, and many will be sad when he returns to South Africa.”

Luisa, au pair from Austria

Nominated by the Ehrler family

“Luisa is in a category all her own. She is outgoing and kind and caring not only to our children, but to all of our neighborhood/community children. Despite the unforeseen events of 2020, Luisa extended with us even though she has not seen her family the entire time she has been in the U.S (a COVID-19 cancelled trip from her family among many other cancelled trips). We are a dual military family based on separate sides of Washington State where life can be a bit hectic and unpredictable. Luisa’s willingness to be flexible and be a part of our team is truly a life saver.”

Elona, au pair from France

Nominated by the Mattei family

“For two wonderful years, Elona has brought joy, peace, and fun to our household. Elona came to us from France, but her life started in Albania; she immigrated to France as a young child with her family. Our family has enjoyed a multicultural experience with Elona in every sense. She loves to cook for us, including traditional Albanian food as well as the popular French crêpes. We marveled at her willpower and commitment to her faith during the fasting time of Ramadan. She took on a unique challenge with our family, as we have odd working hours, and older children. Elona helps navigate teenage hormones and relationships, heavy homework loads, and mental health challenges due to COVID and remote learning. This is definitely not what she signed up for, but she handles it with grace and optimism.”

Laura, au pair from Colombia

Nominated by the Sturman family

“Laura is a best friend to my 9-, 7- and 3-year-old. She is the game enthusiast, ultimate tag monster and patient teacher. Laura is present, engaging and interested in the kids. She has found a way into all three of my girls’ hearts. Laura was our au pair two years ago. After a year with our family, she returned back to Colombia to finish her schooling. We always stayed in great touch with her. The girls loved to Facetime her, and she used to send special gifts like the hugger (a stuffed animal that wraps its arms around you). After being in Colombia for two years, Laura missed the kids so much she came back to be our au pair.”

Šárka, au pair from Czech Republic

Nominated by the Webster family

“Šárka is a loving, generous, selfless young woman with more maturity and integrity than anyone would reasonably expect of a 22-year-old. She’s made good (but hard) choices and sacrifices during a pandemic that ultimately protect not only herself, but our family, meanwhile making the most of the options that are available to her. Her role isn’t easy, caring for a 4-year-old and 18-month-old with very few “normal” options for childhood activity, but her creativity has inspired a world of adventure, and she’s managed all of this without complaint. She is a community ambassador for other au pairs, welcoming and connecting nearby au pairs and helping them make the most of their experience here.”

Rebekka, au pair from Germany

Nominated by the Allen family

“Bekky has substance and grit. In her free time, she helped in coordinating the collection of 20,000 shoe-boxed gifts for global distribution through Operation Christmas Child at the local drop off and volunteered at the processing center too. When a tornado killed 18 people in our county, she volunteered for clean-up and separately took Henry to purchase donations and deliver donuts to first responders. Since COVID, Bekky has concentrated on personal development. Refocusing, she took online voice lessons and recorded a song in the studio. Launching her own YouTube channel, she encouraged other current and future au pairs. Inviting Bekky into our home and hearts was one of our best decisions. We love our Bekky!”

Bogi, au pair from Hungary

Nominated by the Sweers family

“We would not have been able to continue to work in our essential roles, or have our daughters continue to thrive in school without Bogi. Our middle daughter Cora puts Bogi in her all her family portraits. She is always a bright light that we can count on to keep shining. COVID has limited her adventures and many trips were cancelled, but she always has a smile on her face and makes the most of our community and activities that are still available and are safe. Prior to COVID she was able to travel to Disney with our family, and to Alaska with a travel-mate. Recently we safely went to Colorado for hiking and outdoors adventures, just her and I (host mom/host daughter). She has been a sister, daughter, teacher, caregiver and the BEST au pair, and we are forever grateful!”

Daniele, au pair from Brazil

Nominated by the Holmes family

“Dani joined us just before lockdown, with two toddlers and a newborn—and has made what could have been a difficult and stressful time for my husband and I into something wonderful. Not only has she been wonderful in dreaming up creative things to do with two stuck-at-home toddlers, but she has been so supportive of me as a mother with a tricky newborn. Dani champions all women’s issues, but her understanding and support around the mental and physical burdens of mothering small children has been so amazing during this strange time. [She] has let my husband and I enjoy this extra time at home with our children in a way for which we cannot thank her enough.”

Sara, au pair from Italy

Nominated by the Grant family

“As a parent, no words can express the sense of peace and comfort we have experienced; knowing that when we are at work or have other engagements, our children are in the best care with someone who loves them and delights in the littlest, most beautiful moments. Our family has learned so much about Sara’s culture through the experiences she has given us. Sara has also taken the time to explore all that America has to offer. She has made many friends and traveled throughout the USA. She has hiked many mountains and explored so much of the natural world around us. She has never been afraid to try new things, whether it be downhill skiing or eating a bacon wrapped Oreo (yes, that’s a real thing). Sara is more than just a wonderful au pair; she is family and more importantly our unsung hero.”

Tristan, au pair from France

Nominated by the Martin family

“Tristan is an au pair extraordinaire! He is an integral part of our family and he does amazing work with the kids. Due to COVID-19, all the usual activities are cancelled, and we are homeschooling. Tristan—previously a chef in Paris—has been running a cooking program to go along with the kids’ world geography curriculum, making meals and desserts each week to get a taste of each country we ‘visit’. He makes elaborate crafts, gets the kids moving—running, dancing, and even learning some expressions in French! As hard as this year has been with the pandemic, it has also been an amazing one, thanks to Tristan. He is a superstar!”

Arantxa, au pair from Mexico

Nominated by the Dye family

“Aranxta is a true ambassador—to our family, within the au pair program, within our local community, and to her home country of Mexico. She embodies all that makes a successful au pair because she is a caring young woman who knows when to step up with energy and passion. Arantxa has served as a co-leader to a troop of 18 Girl Scouts. She taught the troop about Mexican culture, food, language, tradition and scouting. Throughout quarantine, Arantxa baked cakes for friends, chalked positive messages around the neighborhood, joined in howling each night to show support for frontline workers, and when a local farmer became ill, Arantxa volunteered each week on her goat farm doing manual labor. She is simply amazing.”

Carmen, au pair from Spain

Nominated by the Gardner family

“Carmen elected to come join our family with four young children (ages 7, 6, 3, and 1 on arrival). She quickly became a cherished part of the family and not only extended another year with us, but chose to stay during the COVID pandemic. Carmen has far exceeded our expectations with helping online school with the older two while dealing with the chaos of the little two all while my husband I both had to continue working out of the home. Carmen has shared her culture from Spain with our children throughout her time in our home. She often plays Spanish music to encourage hearing and awareness of the language. We are so blessed to have Carmen be a part of our family and we can’t imagine how life is going to be without her.”

Tamar, au pair from the U.K.

Nominated by the Hughes family

“Tamar, or ‘T,’ as we lovingly call her, should win ‘Au Pair of the Year’ because she embodies the true spirit of the program. Her joy and wit are contagious; her kindness and generosity overflowing. She is a bright young woman who shows and teaches our children love, care, and respect. T has identified herself as a leader among her peers. She has welcomed new au pairs and comforted those who needed a shoulder to lean on with care packages and coffee dates.  Together with fellow au pair, Steph, she has created a blog all about the au pair experience (@aupairtea on Instagram).  T has even immersed herself in charitable causes, including buying and collecting canned goods for a local food pantry. We are privileged to have her join us and truly become an integral part of our family.”

Chantelle, au pair from South Africa

Nominated by the Massey family

“Chantelle was our family’s saving grace in 2020! Arriving the same day our schools and community shutdown due to COVID-19, Chantelle immediately helped our family navigate our new normal. She guided our kids through crafts, baking, and neighborhood service projects to help them learn the value of creativity and community during uncertain times. We’ve enjoyed experiencing each other’s family traditions; she taught us about make-your-own-pizza night and how to bake elaborate cakes while we’ve shared leprechaun hunts, bike rides, pool parties and family Halloween costumes! Even when she is away from our family, I know my kids are on her mind as she often brings back souvenirs like seashells from distant beaches or sweet treats for them to try. We are so grateful to have her as a member of our family!”