January 10, 2020

Our finalists for our 2020 Au Pair of the Year Award

Congratulations to our incredible finalists!

10 minutes
Cultural exchange

We’re thrilled to say that we received so many Au Pair of the Year award nominations this year! Here at the Cultural Care Boston office, we’ve been enjoying reading every single submission—hundreds of families across the country have shared how their au pair is the best fit for their family and the amazing things they have been able to do during their time in the USA.

We’ve done the difficult job of narrowing down the submissions to our top 15 finalists. Of course, every single one of our nominees is a winner in their own right—and here at Cultural Care, we are so proud of the way that we help families bring incredible cultural exchange experiences into their own homes.

Congratulations again to our incredible finalists! Read on to hear more about the impact these au pairs have had on their host families.

Lucia from Argentina, nominated by the Rao family in Texas 

“Au Pair of the Year doesn’t even begin to encapsulate what it means to have Lucia in our family. I still cannot imagine what our lives were like before her or what it will be like when we won’t see her smiling face every morning.   

She greets each child as if she hasn’t seen them in years. She knows the ins and outs of what each kid isn’t eating this week and which color socks match each of the millions of bows we have adopted. She plans the most elaborate activities to fill up a random Monday afternoon. She makes the most exotic looking sculptures out of everyday fruits and is delighted to show the kids every day. She loves them as if it’s the last time she will ever see them every. single. day.”

Daniela from Brazil, nominated by the Rowley family in South Carolina

“As a mom, you can only dream of having childcare where your kids are with someone who extends the same maternal compassion and generosity of heart. Dani has shown an unwavering drive to do what’s right, lead from the heart and when the going gets tough, brush herself off, give a hug and try harder. In our hearts, Dani has become a Rowley and irreplaceable member of our family and cherished member of our Columbia, South Carolina community. It will be next to impossible to say goodbye but thanks to Dani we have so many wonderful memories and inspiring moments to keep us smiling.”

Santiago from Colombia, nominated by the McGhee family in North Carolina

“We believe that Santiago is the epitome of what an au pair should be; nurturing, helpful, loving, respectful, inclusive, adventurous, and above all, kind.  Everything you read about what the au pair program is about is embodied in Santiago. In the past 2 years, we have thanked his parents over and over for raising the man he is, and for sharing him with our family.   

We are unable to put into exact words what the past 2 years have felt like with Santiago in our family; the way our kids’ faces light up when they see him, when they’re proud of something and can’t wait to tell him, when they’re sad about something and want to talk to him, the encouragement he gives them when they want to quit. What Santiago does is prove that an experienced host family can still be amazed at what the au pair program can do for the kids, how the bonds that form will never be broken, based on pinky promises and jalapeño bets.”

Noa from Switzerland, nominated by the Emmerich family in North Carolina

“Noa is a force of calm in our busy household. At just 18-years-old, she cares for FOUR kids – a toddler, two tweens and a teen. Mature, dependable and patient, Noa’s flexibility and positivity holds together the happy chaos of a big family with two working parents. Noa patiently handles last minute schedule changes and figures out ways to make our days – which often involve four kids in four different places – run smoothly. Noa is mature, responsible, loving and kind. We are lucky to count her as part of our family!” 

Valeria from Colombia, nominated by the Schopf family in Oregon

“It’s rare that a person is radically kind, compassionate, and warm, all without being a pushover – but Valeria pulls it off. She’s our fifth au pair, so we know what we’re talking about – and we have had some great au pairs!  Valeria is basically everything you’d want in an au pair. From the very beginning, she made us feel that our kids were in great hands. She makes them feel secure and loved, but also instills important habits in them for the future.”

Veronika from the Czech Republic, nominated by the Brewer family in Colorado  

“Aside from all that Veronika contributes to our family and Culture Care, her personality alone makes her deserve this award. She is hard-working, motivated, and kind and loving to all around her. Our children respect her and have learned so much from her. Veronika has also befriended all of our family as well as friends, and in doing so, has extended cultural exchange beyond our household.  

Veronika is such a deserving au pair for this award on every level. I can only hope that I have described her contributions to our family in life in a way that is fitting for all she gives. There is no greater gift to parents that knowing that your au pair cares for your children like you do. I will always say it takes a village to raise our kids, and Veronika has been such an integral part of that. We are so blessed that she has joined our family!”  

Rico from Germany, nominated by the Hertl family in Washington

“Our lives are forever changed for the better because of Rico. He arrived during a particularly challenging year for our family due to our infant son’s unforeseen medical issues. Rico never blinked twice. He dove in head-first and instantly became a calm, capable, stable member of our family while offering reasons to laugh along the way. He’s been flexible, consistent and has been an absolute joy to have in our home. The bond between Rico and both of our children is difficult to put into words. He was the breath of fresh air we needed that brought life and laughter back into our home. Rico has supported us through multiple medical appointments and even our son’s third surgery. Rico faced the unknown with such courage and optimism, two characteristics that I can only hope my children will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

 Alba from Spain, nominated by the Flynn family in Maryland

“From day one, Alba has fit seamlessly. Our house is run on a fairly regular schedule. Alba quickly picked up on the schedule but was also clever enough to know which parts of it were rigid (bedtime, naptime, schoolwork) and which parts could be more flexible (snacks, screen time, etc.). She has been able to use the schedule to her and the twins’ advantage, creating days that move along but also giving the girls extra time during activities and crafts or allowing moments of spontaneity to breathe and grow into memories. Much to our delight, she also volunteers at our son’s elementary school translating PTA emails and other communications into Spanish so that more families can stay informed and participate in school activities. But all this is secondary to how much Alba has become a member of our family.”

Elena from Italy, nominated by the Strager family in North Carolina

“Our son Cashton was barely 2 years old when Elena arrived. He was speech delayed and almost non-verbal at the time but immediately took to Elena like a big sister. Elena utilized her teaching background and a structured approach with Cashton. With her help and the service of a speech therapist, I am happy to report, Cash is thriving! Not only is Cash using words, but he has learned his ABC’s, numbers and colors with Elena’s help! I get teary-eyed when I think about how thoughtful Elena is when it comes to spending time with our son. She plans park picnics, crafts, helps with play dates and takes Cash on walks around our new neighborhood.  

 Elena is wise beyond her years and has truly become a member of our family. She has become a close friend, sister, and daughter to us and we are so grateful for the time she is spending with our family. In short, Elena has taught us ‘Blood doesn’t make family, Love does'”

Alice from Italy, nominated by the Aquila family in New Jersey

“Alice demonstrates an affection and warmth that engenders trust and loyalty.  She is invested – in our children, in their school, friends and interests, and in their lives – and they sense that commitment and respond to it.  They can’t wait to see her in the mornings to play with her and share their hopes for the day, and they run into her arms at the end of the day to share their high points and hurts. She is an adult in their lives – perhaps the adult in their lives – who most effortlessly crosses between grown-up and comrade, disciplinarian and playmate.  As a result, Alice is like an older cousin, helping to teach them while hoping they succeed in all they attempt. She has shared her talents with them in so many ways, from teaching them to swim to imparting her love for sports to teaching them songs, words and phrases in her native Italian, all in a way that’s more suggestive than directive.”

Adriana from Mexico, nominated by the Ames/Levenberg family in California 

“When Adriana expressed enthusiasm about starting an aerial silks class right after she arrived, I knew we had a unique au pair. Indeed, rather than spending her free time shopping and going to parties, Adriana has audited a full course load at Stanford University, is pursuing two certificate programs at UC Berkeley, and has taken weekly piano lessons throughout her time here, making rapid progress. She also threw herself into learning the philosophy and practices of our children’s Reggio Emilia daycare, and is often better at centering those principles in her own interactions with our two children than my husband and I are! Adriana brings a love of not just architecture and children to our home, but a deep interest in her Mexican heritage, something we have welcomed with open arms. We have already begun to plan a reunion visit to Mexico in 2021, and she is thrilled at the opportunity to show us the richness of her home country.”  

Jeni from Mexico, nominated by the Morales family in Massachusetts  

“Our au pair – our daughter – a sister to the kids – a true friend to the other au pairs… we love Jeni more than words can say.  There are so many reasons why, but I will focus on two: her love for cultural exchange and her heart for our family. 

The decorations, smells, and tastes that Jeni brought to our home brought us to tears: my husband is from Mexico and had not eaten pan de muerto in a long time since we cannot find it here in Boston.  All of this inspired us to create our own Day of the Dead table with pictures of our deceased relatives, including Jeni’s grandpa.  We were able to talk to my daughter and son Sam, age 5, about who their family is. Jeni brought Mexico to life for our family in celebrating this tradition.”

Lotte from the Netherlands, nominated by the Kaiser family in New York

“Lotte quickly became more than a friend. She is family. Our experience with Lotte is the ideal au pair experience, what every family hopes for. She is a member of our family, we do everything together, the children adore her, and my husband and I think she is incredible.  She is a uniquely special person, and there cannot possibly be a better au pair. Lotte deserves to be honored for the effort she puts in with our family every day, and for the example she sets for all au pairs as someone who truly embraces the meaning and philosophy behind the program.”

Amanda from Sweden, nominated by the Costa family in Virginia

“We cannot overstate the blessing Amanda is for our whole family. During Amanda’s first month with us, Alaia was diagnosed with hearing loss. All of us were taken by surprise. We journeyed together into a new world of hearing aids, sign language, and speech therapy. Far from being frightened or disappointed, Amanda took the news in stride and has been amazingly proactive with Alaia.  

Amanda seems to know by instinct what we all need, whether it’s delicious Swedish pie at the end of a long day, homemade art projects and sensory experiences to feed the kids’ creative side, cuddles and stories for the children when they’re feeling sad, or big outside adventures any time at all. We can’t imagine navigating the last four months without her, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings for our whole family — Amanda included!”

Kwother (Ki) from South Africa, nominated by the Rigueur family in Connecticut

“By the time Ki arrived, she knew an enormous amount about our children, including the little quirks of their personalities. Almost immediately, and of her own initiative, she applied that knowledge to understanding the broader community and world of our children. By the end of the month, Ki had an organic understanding of our children’s world, that in some cases, extended beyond what even we, as host parents knew. Ki’s approach is one that is very much rooted in a kind of quiet, steely, strength that’s supported by her boundless energy. She’s a fantastic listener and companion, while also being patient and generous. She also radiates a kind of calmness that quickly puts most people at ease.”