Over 500 host families around the country nominated their au pairs for this award. These stories and moments of cultural exchange underline just how impactful this program is for so many people.
We have a designated team in the office that carefully reads through every single submission, and then ensures that every candidate is made aware of their nomination. Of course, we’ve picked 10 finalists for each award – and we think they’re great – but the truth is every single nominee is wonderful in their own way. This may be our contest, but at the end of the day, what it’s really about is recognizing and expressing gratitude for each other.
Congratulations to our 10 au pair finalists! Below you will find excerpts from the nominations submitted by their host families.
Imm, Cultural Care au pair from Thailand
Imm is the calm in our family storm. She goes above and beyond, cooking special recipes for our kids and teaching them all sort of things us parents don’t seem to have time for, like basketball, rollerblading, skateboarding, swimming, guitar, piano, Thai language and so much more. We share so much culture with each other that our house has become an ‘Indo-Thai-American’ home. She has been a blessing to our family. We wish we could clone her so we can have her again, and again and again as our next au pair.
— The Bhartiya family in Virginia
Debi, Cultural Care au pair from Hungary
Debi is a unique combination of calm, thoughtful, and kind with incredibly playful and witty. She entered our home life seamlessly. She really is a member of the family. Debi cooks incredible Hungarian meals and it is always restaurant good. For Sam’s first birthday, the girls crafted a felt birthday crown that Sam rocked so proudly all day and they secretly made him the most incredible artwork that displays a sweet Hungarian children’s poem in both Hungarian and English, with some incredible paper art. We love hearing about Debi’s culture and family and she is always willing to share a fun new word, or cultural and family traditions that are special to her.
— The Sande family in Minnesota
Paul, Cultural Care au pair from France
The gift that Paul has been to our family is immeasurable. He provides stability and an increased sense of family to our kids, which is hard to find in a military family. He melds into our family seamlessly. He teaches us to make crepes, introduces us to all manners of French foods and actually plays games with the kids. Sometimes my husband and I laugh that Paul has become his “Bro-Pair” too as they watch sports together. Having Paul in our family brings us a sense of security along with fun and laughter, and we can never thank him enough.
— The Roman family in Oklahoma
Jessy, Cultural Care au pair from Colombia
Jessy is creative, careful, thoughtful and adds so many special details to our daily lives. Her dedication to our children is boundless. Day in, day out, when we get home from work, she is engaged with the kids doing all sorts of projects. Our six-year-old decided he wanted to be a dunk tank for Halloween, so Jessy went and bought supplies and made him a handmade dunk tank costume complete with target and attached ball. It was a thing of beauty that he could actually wear. So many people go out of their way to spontaneously comment on how dedicated and engaged Jessy is with the children – parents at music class, preschool teachers, neighbors. She is a terrific representative of au pairs and it makes us proud to have her be part of our family.
— The Casey family in Massachusetts
Nadia, Cultural Care au pair from Italy
From the moment that Nadia arrived, she has diligently become the missing piece in our family’s puzzle. She has brought understanding, kindness, intelligence, motivation, patience and empathy to our children. She has been a friend and confidant to our twelve-year-old daughter, Gabriella. She listens to her joys and fears, helps her navigate the complexity of social media and is teaching her to respect and keep a positive image of herself. For all of them, I often find positive, supportive notes that she writes to them. She leaves them in their lunch boxes, on their bedside tables and in their bags. She continues to stay genuinely engaged with all of the children while making friends and demonstrating a healthy way to explore, grow and develop on her own.
— The Ugwonali family in Georgia
Melanie, Cultural Care au pair from Mexico
It is impossible for us to imagine an au pair more marvelous or who has had a greater impact on their host family, their community, Cultural Care, and her home country than Melanie has had. She’s smart, creative, responsible, and unshakably optimistic. She is the boys’ perfect big sister: funny, caring, loving, and mature. In addition to all the time she spends with us, she still somehow finds the time and energy to care for so many others in the community. She is amazingly active in the au pair community and in charity work. By offering custom illustrations in return for donations, she raised over $5,000 dollars to help Mexico recover from the earthquakes earlier this year. This effort was highlighted on a local news program here in Boston. Melanie was pleased about this exposure because it not only helped her raise funds, but also painted au pairs and immigrants in a positive light – a personal objective of hers that in part drove her decision to come to the US. Melanie is a true member of our family and we believe that she was meant to be here.
— Melanie’s host family in Massachusetts
Gugu, Cultural Care au pair from South Africa
I remember the day I picked Gugu up from the bus stop. When she got off the bus, she ran over, and gave me the biggest and most loving hug. It was as if I was reunited with a long lost family member. She brought everyone in our family a piece of traditional Zulu clothing. It was such a thoughtful and unique gift that we will cherish for years to come. We found a South African food market in the US that will ship traditional foods and snacks to our home and have enjoyed trying all of the new foods Gugu has introduced us to. She is always willing to try something new with our family. Whether it’s going to a local Renaissance Festival, an outdoor symphony concert, eating Maryland blue crabs with firefighters, visiting the Atlantic Ocean, going to an ice sculpture exhibit in 9-degree weather, exploring college campuses, Gugu finds fun in everything she does.
— The Walker family in Maryland
Nathalia, Cultural Care au pair from Brazil
We are nominating Nathalia for Au Pair of the Year for the second year. Our first year with Naty was amazing, and our second is even better. She is charming, loving and patient. Zander and Kate adore Naty as much (if not more) than we do. She is courageous and daring, and willing to tackle the unknown. Naty also has an easy sense about her – she takes life in strides and easily finds the joy around her. We are proud and grateful that Naty is a member of our family. She cannot get rid of us, and we fully expect that our future holds trips to Brazil and hers trips back to the United States.
— The Fuentes family in Tennessee
Jannic, Cultural Care au pair from Germany
Jannic is a very special young man who has added so much to our family dynamic: Big brother, trusted friend and confidant, in-house soccer coach, and so much more. One of the best things about having a male au pair is the role model he sets for our boys in terms of being a loving caregiver who just happens to be a guy. When it was Marc’s turn to be “Star of the Week” in his classroom, he selected Jannic to be his special guest. They taught the other kids how to make origami animals, one of their favorite activities to do together. He has many of our friend’s children asking if they can have their own bro pair!
— The Pradel family in Massachusetts
Stina, Cultural Care au pair from Sweden
Our au pair Stina is truly extraordinary – not because of her actions during turbulent or difficult times – but because of her actions each and every day. Our children have developed such a deep connection with her and won’t go to bed without a good night hug and “I love you”. She has shared her cultural traditions with us all, and she even made a presentation to my daughter’s 2nd grade class about her home country of Sweden. Her loving disposition, her sense of humor, her flexibility and her ability to see the best in every person and in every situation is remarkable and exceptional in anyone – let alone someone who is only 20 years old. We are just so thankful she found her way to us!
— The Brooks family in California