January 19, 2021

2021 Host Family of the Year finalists

9 minutes
Cultural exchange

Far from home and facing unforeseen challenges due to COVID-19, au pairs relied on the support of their host families more than ever in 2020. And despite the year’s speedbumps, au pairs were able to make the most of their time in the USA and fulfill many of their goals thanks to their host families’ help, understanding and compassion. We’re excited to share our 15 Host Family of the Year Award finalists with you—vote for your favorite to help us choose the 2021 winner!

The Petrone family in Delaware

Nominated by Karabo, au pair from South Africa

“My host family deserves to win this award because as first-time hosts, they truly embody what this program is really about. They have welcomed me into their home with warm open arms, always ensure that I am comfortable and happy. They genuinely treat me like their own daughter. Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of family—family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.  I love you guys so much. I am so honored and proud to be your au pair!”

The Udani family in North Carolina

Nominated by Laura, au pair from the Netherlands

“The Udani’s have been amazing to me ever since they sent me a connection request over a year ago. I have been comfortable talking to them and felt an amazing connection with them since the very first day. They have always been enthusiastic about having me as an au pair and didn’t once doubt it, even though COVID delayed me. Since arriving they have welcomed me as a fifth family member into their home and introduced me to the [au pair] community. I could not think of a better, nicer, more wonderful family to live with for my au pair year.”

The Boldon family in Connecticut

Nominated by Ana Karen, au pair from Mexico

“I love my host family and I think they deserve to be recognized as the ‘Host Family of the Year’ because since the day we matched, till now, they have been making me feel special and part of the family, which meant a lot for me. Being that far from home for the first time in my life was a little bit hard, but they made everything to make this process easy and smooth, I am so grateful for them and my host grandparents that always have been there for me. To me, my host family is for sure the ‘Host Family of the Year’ for all the love, support and kindness that they have shown to me, we have a great communication and relationship, I could have not asked for a better host family!”

The Trinkaus family in Illinois

Nominated by Rebecca, au pair from Germany

“Sitting down at our dinner table and having kids on my lap within seconds, falling asleep on the couch while watching a movie with my host parents, my one-year-old host baby reaching out for my hand to go on a walk through our house—moments like these show me how much I became part of their lives. We lived through many highs and lows, the loss of our beloved dog, my father’s heart disease during a pandemic. What seemed like a scene out of a bad movie, a pandemic, a city in lockdown, wearing masks, etc., turned out to bring us closer than ever before. They made me a better person, encouraged me, and supported me, 532 days and counting have I spent with them and if I could, I would spend so many more years with them! I am forever grateful that they let me into their lives and that from now on I am always going to be a part of their family!”

The Nnewihe family in Massachusetts

Nominated by Karima, au pair from France 

“My host family deserves to win this award. They have compassion, they always ask after me when I’m feeling tired, they’re open-minded, super funny, sometimes embarrassing, but each member of this family gives me joy, happiness, help and love. I thank them for giving me more confidence in myself, for believing in me, for always helping me to be someone better. I’m grateful that I found them, that they accepted me and make me feel important. We say in French ‘on ne choisit pas sa famille’, which means we don’t choose our family, but in this case, I chose them for being part of my life.”

The Lee family in Washington

Nominated by Karina, au pair from Brazil

“My host family should win the award because of how they have made me feel loved, supported, and determined. The kids, Ben, JoJo, and Bevy, help me to find myself more and more.  Kat is balanced and fair and treats me as her own. Even though she has a busy work schedule, she takes the time to think about not only her kids, but also about how I feel and what I may need, especially if something goes wrong with my plans or I am not well prepared for it. I feel like I gained a friend, a sister and sometimes a good-hearted mother and I am experiencing exactly what the au pair program is supposed to be.”

The Bush family in Arizona

Nominated by Nondumiso, au pair from South Africa

“If there was a perfect family, that family would be my host family. When I say perfect, I mean they tick all the boxes of what most people would think a host family will be like. I became like a family member and always felt included when they go to see family and friends. My host mom and host dad are amazing, and the twins are the most well-mannered little adorable babies I have ever come across. I could not have picked a perfect match than the Bush family. I will cherish my time with them forever.”

The Robinson family in New Jersey

Nominated by Muriel, au pair from Germany

“Thanks to my family, no day goes by without laughing, singing, dancing, hugging, caring or listening. I am so grateful to them for their open minds, their jokes, their spontaneous performances, their home cooked meals and their acceptance. Coming to a new country, a new culture, a new home can be overwhelming and hard, but I knew since the day I finally met them, I wouldn’t have to do this alone. They are always here to help me during hard times, they are eager to include my traditions into their life and include me in their culture and customs. They not only made me part of their life but also their family.”

The Laffen family in California

Nominated by Brenda, au pair from the Netherlands

“Here at home, the harder it gets, the stronger we become. Even after 8 months of intense togetherness due to COVID, the Laffens and I still grow as we go. They care about my well-being and sanity during this pandemic. They try to make sure I’m happy and they’ll listen and help when I’m not. No matter how hard it gets, I know they’ll be there, and we keep enjoying the little things together. I feel appreciated, supported, valued, trusted, loved, safe, and at home. Enjoying the little things and the kids’ smiles keep me going. I think 2020 was the ultimate relationship test for me and my host family, and we’re passing it. And I love that.”

The Meier Family in Maryland

Nominated by Keroline, au pair from Brazil 

“The Meier family is that host family that takes the essence of au pair and cultural exchange seriously in a fun way and does everything to make my year unforgettable and full of new experiences! It’s a family that overflows with love, affection, kindness, joy, compassion and that is always there to help and support me in all my new adventures and introducing me to the American culture. They always bring out the best in me and inspire me to be a better person every day. The days with them are full of laughter, companionship, learning and full of hugs and kind words, what makes every moment with them incredible and giving me so many beautiful memories of this year that will always be in my heart! I feel very welcomed and loved by them, they will always be my American family!”

The Aguayo family in Illinois

Nominated by Josefina, au pair from Argentina

“I think the right words to describe the Aguayo family are: ‘my second family’. Those three separate words may not mean much, but all together they explain how important and indispensable Logan, Sebastian, Kerri, and David have become in my life. From the first day, Kerri and David made me part of their lives and their beautiful family, they included me in all their plans, they helped me to shorten the distance with my family in Argentina, they gave me my independence, they taught me a lot new things (and I continue to learn from them every day), they shared with me their culture, many talks, their thoughts and opinions, their jokes and also concerns, but even more importantly, they allowed me to share the growth and day-to-day of the two little people they love the most.”

The Hodge family in Virginia

Nominated by Annika, au pair from Austria

My host family is not just my host family. With all the former au pairs we are one big family. When we au pairs come to join them, we grow into their family. They care so much about all their au pairs and have—in my eyes—a unique relationship with all of them. They try to stay in contact with the former au pairs with video calls regularly, welcome them back in the United States over the summer and visit them back in Austria. They should win this award, because of their experience, their effort for the well-being of their au pairs and their kindness of how they treat their au pair like a member of their own family!”

The Leeuw family in Vermont

Nominated by Sonia, au pair from Germany

“My host family is the best I could have ever wished for! I felt right at home the first time I met them. I couldn’t imagine going through COVID-19 and all of the challenges it entails without them. It brought us even closer and it is because of their warmth, kindness, and good spirit that we have grown together through the challenge. We can laugh for hours, be silly and help each other no matter what. I would never have thought that this is even possible—but I have truly found a second family—a second home! I love my family from the bottom of my heart and I will miss them so much when it’s time to go back to Germany.”

The Ingram family in Illinois

Nominated by Edenagela, au pair from Brazil

“I would say it is an impossible mission not to fall in love with Ingrams! Three super smart and well educated boys. Diane and Ben represent the true essence of this program. They are a couple who inspire love and respect in everyone around them. And far beyond the cultural exchange experience we have, they teach me daily to be resilient, to love and have fun on our crazy journey. They inspire me to be a good example to our boys and to be a better person every day.”

The Schussel family in California

Nominated by Irina, au pair from Argentina

“I believe my host family deserves this award because they are truly amazing people, which makes them an amazing host family as well. They are the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful people I know. They care about others, and they love with all their hearts. It is no surprise to me they are loved by everyone who knows them. They treat me not only as an independent adult, but also like another member of the family. It is so clear that I am not just a person who works for them. They also really love the program and the cultural exchange it generates. They even made an Instagram account to help host families and au pairs on their adventures, and give more visibility to how great the program can be.”