Twenty-one-year old Kathleen LeBar, a former Cultural Care host child, took a trip to Europe this summer to visit 9 of her former au pairs and three more from her mom’s au pair group. (Her mom Mary has been a local childcare consultant for Cultural Care for 19 years.) For her, having 12 big “sisters” from all over the world gave her the courage to travel overseas herself to live with a host family in Spain. She also planned her solo trip through Europe to reunite with her former au pairs and sightsee in 20+ cities. As her mom Mary says proudly, “That girl was all over the place!” Kathleen wrote to us about her trip and her photos and story are below.
For my parents and I, having au pairs has always been about welcoming someone new to become part of our family. My mom and dad have been local childcare consultants (LCCs) with Cultural Care for 19 years and, as a family, we also hosted 12 au pairs. In other words, I was able to grow up with 12 older sisters.
During the spring semester of 2015, I had the opportunity to live with a host family and attend a Spanish university for five months in Sevilla, Spain. This was truly the opportunity of a lifetime. I experienced the same feelings of nervousness about speaking a foreign language and fitting in with a new family as our au pairs did. But by accepting those fears and taking a leap of faith, I was also able to explore cities all over the world, immerse myself in a new culture and get to know a different way of life with my host family. While my time in Spain was unforgettable, I also took a very unique trip after my program was finished.
After my program ended in Spain, I spent a month traveling through Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden visiting nearly 20 different cities and most importantly, reuniting with 12 of my sisters. Nine of the au pairs I visited had been my au pairs, and 3 of them had been au pairs in my parent’s group. Three of the girls I visited are now married with children and several others are on their way to getting married. (I’m really excited about that because I have attended the weddings of several of my old au pairs). I was able to look out the window to my au pair’s yard in Zurich, seeing cows and the Swiss alps in the background. I was able to drink beer at the Hoffbrau Haus in Munich with one of my sisters and take a road trip to Amsterdam with another. I celebrated Midsummer by dancing around the Midsummer pole and eating fresh fish on the Swedish coast. I climbed down into an old coal mine with another one of my sisters in northern Sweden. I truly had the experience of a lifetime visiting all of my old au pairs and exploring Europe with them. Even though some of them lived in small towns where the main attraction was a single statue, I didn’t mind because it meant I got to laugh and reminisce with the girls I grew up with, the sisters that helped me become who I am today.
Here are all of my au pair “sisters” I was able to visit this summer:
Nicole from Switzerland: Nicole mentioned that she was so glad she took care of me when I was little, because little did she know she would have 3 boys!
Andrea from Germany: Andrea was our most organized au pair of all our au pairs. She is the best equipped to handle twins. The girls were so cute when I was there, they fought over who got to sit next to me at dinner, so I sat in the middle.
Sofie from Sweden: Sofie was worried about her boys fighting the whole time I was visiting, I kept telling her it was ok. She too said that I was so easy compared to her two boys.
Sofia from Sweden: Sofia is a fairly new mom and enjoying her 2-year-old daughter, living in Stockholm.
Nadja from Germany: Nadia was with a different host family before she came to live with us (lucky for us it didn’t work out with them:) We drove to Amsterdam for the day and got to see Anne Frank’s house. Nadja has her Doctorate also and is an English Professor at a local University.
Svenja from Germany: Svenja was our only au pair that stayed two years with us. I felt so at home and relaxed when I was with her.
Verena from Germany: Verena is a Speech Pathologist, and that is my major in college. I was able to join her for one day at work and see what she does at her job. This was a great experience for me! I also loved spending time with her dog, Nils.
Anna from Germany: Anna was really one of our funniest au pairs. She came to us as a transition. Who would have thought that Anna would be working on her Doctorate degree in Engineering and have a fantastic job with Volkswagen!
Anette from Sweden: Anette took me to her summer house, it was so pretty on a lake. We had dinner with her whole family, whom I had met when they came to the USA in 2007. We went to a coal mine, it was really fun.
Kathleen plans to continue to keep in touch with her au pairs and visit again sometime soon!
We think this is just about the coolest story ever! Do you have plans to reunite with your former host family or au pair? We’d love to hear more! Host parents or host children, share your story here. Au pairs, share your story here.