Sometimes, you find teachers (and students) in unexpected places!
Take Thai au pair Mai for example. She’s been an au pair for host mom Jen and host dad Swapnil since June 2018. She takes care of their two children—Aadi (7) and Neev (4).
Mai decided to extend her time in the USA by another full year with Jen and Swapnil. She loves to embrace the many opportunities in the Arlington/DC area: English classes, cultural events, and many diverse food options! According to her host parents, “she is an extremely awesome au pair with a lot of patience and flexibility. She helps our family run more smoothly!”
So how, you may ask, did it end up that Mai taught her host dad Swapnil how to drive? Well, we interviewed the family and got the full story. Read the scoop below …
How did the topic of learning how to drive even come up?
Host dad Swapnil is originally from India, but is a U.S. citizen. When he and host mom Jen lived in Europe after getting married, there were many public transportation options available to them—and after moving to the USA, driving never became a priority or necessity for him due to his busy work schedule and access to public transport and Uber. Eventually, Jen encouraged him to finally learn to drive—that way, he could take over in case of emergencies where Mai or Jen could not pick up the children.
Where do the lessons take place? How often and where do they practice?
With much coaxing by Jen, Swapnil finally decided to learn how to drive. He got his learner’s permit and is able to drive with a licensed driver only. He took an official driving course in the summer but decided he needed more practice before actually getting the license. Since Jen takes the bus to work every day, Mai is the primary driver of their Honda Odyssey van. Swapnil often practices his driving with Mai, and 4-year-old Neev in tow.
With Mai in the passenger seat, Swapnil drives the boys to school, runs errands to UPS or Home Depot, and sometimes they grab lunch at the Wendy’s drive-through. Mai helps him navigate, ensures he is following traffic rules, and answers his questions as he learns on the spot!
Are there any moments that stand out from their lessons?
Swapnil—who is very much into technology, lighting, etc.—is also very much into decorating their home for the holidays, especially at Halloween. He and Mai have made a few “fun” trips together to various local stores, with 4-year-old Neev, to scope out more Halloween decorations and lights to add to the family’s collection!
Swapnil also likes to go to his favorite Indian shop to buy specialty foods from his home country—so Mai gets to learn both about India and the USA from her host family! Surely they will soon be scouting out all the fun decorations popping up on sale for Christmas. Luckily, Swapnil has a flexible work-from-home schedule, so they are able to practice driving when time permits and errands await!
Who would have imagined a Thai au pair teaching her American/Indian host dad how to drive in the USA?!
Update: Swapnil now has his driver’s license! He is loving the independence of being able to drive himself around, and Jen is excited for him.