February 26, 2018

Our 10 finalists for the 2018 Host Family of the Year Award

This year, we received a record number of amazing Host Family of the Year nominations! 

7 minutes
Au pair stories

Over 700 au pairs nominated their host families for this award. We enjoyed reading each and every essay thoughtfully submitted by our au pairs.
While each story is unique in its own way, they all show the smaller things that host families have done to make their au pairs feel at home. Thank you to all the families nominated for being a supportive host family and providing au pairs with an amazing experience here in the United States!
Congratulations to our 10 host family finalists! Below you will find excerpts from the nominations submitted by their au pairs.
The Lorenz family in Colorado
I know there are plenty of great host families out there, but I must have won the host family jackpot! They have gone above and beyond all my expectations and have made my time in the United States unforgettable. One of my favorite memories with my host family is my Name Day, which happened on December 21. Celebrating a Name Day is a Czech tradition. Every day there is a name in the calendar and all the people that have that name get to celebrate a Name Day. My host family caught me off guard this year! I did not expect to get anything at all, and so when they all came into my room, bringing special treats and gifts for me saying ‘Happy Name Day!’ I was surprised! My heart was so happy and I felt very special and loved!
—Natalie, Cultural Care au pair from Czech Republic
The Keller family in Washington
This family is not my ‘host’ family, they are my real family and will always be a big part of my life. I have grown the biggest attachment to three lovely children. I love Hazel, Quentin and Arthur as if they are my own children. They never fail to put a smile on my face. I never knew I could learn so much from someone way younger than me, but each day I learn something new and am always impressed by these children. My goal is to come back each year and have Thanksgiving with them, no matter how much it costs, I’ll work hard until I have reached my goal. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for this family. They say home is where the heart is, and a big piece of my heart is here with them.
—Tori, Cultural Care au pair from Australia

The Bloch family in Connecticut 
I grew up as an only child and had always wished for siblings. My wish however has come true and I am blessed to be able to spend my time with such amazing kids who have filled that empty space. After such a short period of time, Hudson was already asking if his parents could adopt me, and even saying when I go back to Australia and have kids of my own, he wants to come live with me and be my au pair! This year, Thanksgiving was a special one. We went on holiday with the extended family to Las Vegas. As we shared what we were grateful for at Thanksgiving dinner, hearing my host family say such nice things about me really made me feel special and affirmed that they feel the same way I do.
—Taneesha, Cultural Care au pair from Australia

The Merkel family in Minnesota
From the the beginning, the Merkel family welcomed me to their loving home and made me feel a part of their family. Liz and Brian have done so much for me during this year that it is hard to put everything in words. Some of the most important things though, were all the small gestures during my year. All the coffees that Liz brought home, all the patience to help me with English grammar, all the proud faces when I got myself to the gym with her and she even rescheduled a work meeting to a Brazilian restaurant so I could taste some food from home once! Also the big important things such as respecting my different beliefs and cultures and trusting me with their most precious treasures!
—Thami, Cultural Care au pair from Brazil
The Meaders family in Utah
Since the beginning and through every situation, my family helps me, shares with me, teaches me as much as they can, and pushes me to fulfill my dreams…they love me. I believe that it is the little things that count the most. My family taking me on trips everywhere and also letting me go on my own whenever I want to, it’s them moving heaven and earth to find me a ‘buche de Noel’, them running downtown to buy me a brioche when I’m sick because that’s the only food I want. It’s all the conversations around the fire, all the shows we watch together and all the activities we do. It’s me on the Christmas cards, them craving my crepes for breakfast and so many more things. I also believe that home is more of a feeling than a place and they really made me feel like this. They are my home.
—Gaelle, Cultural Care au pair from France
The Conklin family in Virginia
The Conklin family stole my heart from the beginning. They are very supportive and make me feel as a part of the family. I am always invited to different kinds of family events, birthday parties, Thanksgiving celebrations, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Every day we sit by the table and eat dinner together, which is my favorite part of the day. It also reminds me of dinner with my family back in Poland. I love that they are so involved in cultural exchange and they always show me typical things, traditions or meals from the United States. They’re very curious of Polish traditions too! I am the happiest au pair in the world that I am spending my time in the United States with the Conklin family.
—Aleksandra, Cultural Care au pair from Poland
The Walters family in Washington
From the very first night I had arrived, I was welcomed with open arms and huge smiles. Brought to the house, I now proudly call my home. I entered my new bedroom to find little gifts and precious treasures, such as pictures of my loved ones from my country and pictures drawn by my host kids to welcome me to the family. Tears clouded my eyes as I hugged my host mom. I felt at home… As much as they have taught me, my host family has also afforded me the opportunity to be a part of their family. They allowed me to pursue my dream of working with children, which is my passion. They let me into their amazing life that also consists of my other passions, theatre and art.
—Shandrae, Cultural Care au pair from South Africa
The Schwartz family in Maryland
My host family respects me, treats me well, makes me happy and especially makes me feel at home, makes me feel like family. There are so many stories and so many moments. One story is that they are Jewish, that is, they do not celebrate Christmas, but I am Christian and for me Christmas is a very important date. Out of respect for my religion, they are planning to make a Christmas dinner because it’s an important holiday for me and they want to be a part of it. My eyes fill with tears at the thought of it, how amazing they are and how good they make me feel.
—Iris, Cultural Care au pair from Brazil
The Tolleson family in North Carolina
I have spent the last year and a half with the amazing Tolleson family and not one day has passed where I haven’t felt accepted, loved and like part of their craziness. I can’t even put all the exciting things I have experienced with them into words. We’ve been on family vacation, have had the craziest karaoke parties, summer days on the lake, snow days with movie night, ran a 5K together and had hotel room dance parties. Their door was always open for my family from Germany, too! Ella Grace, Emilie and Savannah Kate are so much more than my host kids – they are my siblings! I would’ve never imaged how much three kids can change my life and how much they can teach me! Those girls show me every day what unconditional love is when they shower me with hugs and kisses. They teach me how to appreciate the small things in life and they even made a picky eater like me try new foods!
—Toni, Cultural Care au pair from Germany
The Kim family in Washington
Nobody can prepare you for all the laughs, love, happiness, tears, and unique experiences that you will have with the people that had not only opened the door of the house, but also had opened the doors to their hearts. I could never forget that just after a few weeks of knowing me, we were walking to a place for one of our ‘special dates’ as an ‘auntie’ and a niece, and Noa suddenly looked at me and said, ‘You’re my best friend, Just like Eomma (mom in Korean) and Appa (dad in Korean) and Rhys, you’re my family!’. I will admit that I almost cried just hearing that special little voice and seeing that unique smile – and that was before the ice cream! This is greater than just studying abroad and improving your English; it is even more than just traveling around America or the world. It is about having the opportunity to discover the most invaluable human beings far away from home and calling them ‘family’.
—Kenat, Cultural Care au pair from Mexico