The Van Wieran family of Chicago welcomed their first au pair, Karen from Argentina, in November of 2019. During her year-long-plus time with the Van Wierans, Karen has cared for their three children while also earning her pilot’s license—a lifelong dream of hers.
As a frontline family, the Van Wierans are incredibly thankful for Karen’s help and equally impressed with how she’s made the very most of her time in the USA. They nominated Karen for our Au Pair of the Year award and after being chosen as one of 15 finalists and then earning the most votes from the au pair community. Karen was chosen as Cultural Care Au Pair’s 2021 winner! Below you’ll find the parts of the letter host mom Alizabeth submitted as part of their nomination.
A critical support for her frontline host parents
If ever there was an essential worker during this past year, it would have to be Karen. She easily and selflessly stepped up and beyond what she thought her role was going to be when our school systems shut down but both of us frontline parents had to continue working during the pandemic. Karen is our first au pair, and she has become a bigger part of our family than we ever expected. She brought her own Argentinian culture and language into our home, especially into the kitchen. Karen has taught us her favorite recipes from home, and now we all look forward to empanada night.
A role model for her host kids
Karen meets each one of our children where they are and helps them with what they need. She is at the desk with our oldest son, helping him navigate his Spanish immersion curriculum better than we ever could. She is in the backyard, enthusiastically playing football with our middle son, even though she knew nothing about the game before coming to America. Most of all, she is on the floor with our toddler. Playing with her and teaching her Spanish so much so that her most recent favorite word is “Caio!”
Karen of course shows our children great care and love, but also has been teaching them, and demonstrating through her life, that if they dream big dreams, they can achieve them. Karen has a dream of being a pilot even though few women in Argentina choose that career. She knew she needed to learn English to fly.This year, she has worked diligently to learn our language, taking many more classes than required just to improve her skills. This has been a passion for Karen, and just a few weeks ago, my children got to watch their au pair take her first flight! It was incredible. We watched as proud au pair parents knowing the hard work she has put in and the long year away from her Argentinian family.
A friend and family member forever!
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!
Anyone can watch a child, many people can love a child, but it takes an amazing au pair like Karen to do all these things while also inspiring them to big dreams. Karen is the best au pair hands down and our perfect au pair. She will leave a lasting impact on our children that no other person could. Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving and serving our family so well this year. We cannot wait to see you achieve your big dreams, we have no doubt you will be extraordinarily successful in all that you do. Love, your very proud host parents!