This summer, Katrina and John Ohl and their two daughters, Kristina and Liana, hosted an au pair reunion like none other in Munich, Germany. Since 1995, the Ohl family has hosted 17 au pairs – most from Germany or Austria, and one from Poland. Host mother, Katrina, explained that, just as she grew up bi-lingual, “We wanted our children to have the experience of cultural exchange as well as exposure to speaking German, and we needed flexible childcare” – and for this, the au pair program was the perfect fit.
Kristina created a video with photos of her au pairs through the years to show at her family’s au pair reunion last summer.
The reunion started off with a picnic and games in the English Garden Park, and then dinner that evening in the Spatenhaus Restaurant in the city center. Of their 17 former Cultural Care au pairs, 11 made the journey from near and far – Hamburg, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Rosenheim and Munich, Germany as well as Vienna and Bregenz, Austria. And a few even came with their husbands and children of their own in tow! Some of the au pairs now have full-time jobs, and quite a few are still in university completing their degrees. They all say that the au pair experience changed their lives. It made them more independent, self-confident and further strengthened their love of travel. They all agreed that it wasn’t easy work, but it was one of the best experiences they ever had.
The Ohl family was thrilled that so many of their former au pairs could join them for this reunion to be remembered. They shared, “We told them how grateful we were that we had their help and how each one of them, with their many different strengths and talents, had added something new and valuable to our children’s upbringing and our family’s life. We view them all as extra daughters and part of our extended family and we hope they will stay in contact with us and our children.”
And this was not the first reunion had by the Ohl family and their au pairs! The first was in 2005 in Florida, where they celebrated 10 years of hosting au pairs and 7 of their former au pairs were able to join them. During this time, the family and au pairs alike, strengthened their bonds and reminisced of their time together. They all had so much fun during that reunion that the Ohl sisters insisted that they wanted to have another reunion when the family went to Austria this summer, hence the reunion in Munich, Germany.
The Ohl family has stayed in touch with their au pairs thanks to social platforms such as Skype and Facebook. Every time Kristina and Lianna post a photo, they get lots of “likes” and comments from their “big sister” au pairs. They love having older sisters that they can get advice from, stay in touch with and continue to visit for years to come.