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Be my valentine!

St. Valentine's Day

St. Valentine’s Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

“In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in CanadaMexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia” (See http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day). With the international cultural origins of au pairs, most will be familiar with Valentine’s Day.

In many countries, Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate—often deep, dark chocolate blended with a variety of delicious ingredients. For those who love private and multiple Valentine’s Day celebrations, there is a unique brand of chocolate bars that blend the best of food ingredients with  love poems that are printed on the inside of the wrapper.

Chocolove chocolate bars are sold in many natural food stores and online. Each flavor (Almonds and Sea Salt, Cherries and Almonds, Raspberries, etc.) comes in milk or dark chocolate and each features a different poem.

What a nice way to bring an international tradition home to your Host Family and children!



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English: A glass bottle of Clicquot Club Ginge...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Early fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Golden trees and Canada geese flying south fill the heart with joy. But, nasty contagious “bugs” also abound. A simple home remedy to soothe sniffles and tummy aches is Ginger Lemon Ale.

The recipe is simple:

  • 1-2 scoops lemon-flavored electrolyte mix (be sure to check for any recommendations by age)
  • 10 oz bottled ginger ale

Place the scoop(s) in the bottom of a glass or tumbler. Pour in the ginger ale, slowly to allow the extra fizz to settle. Enjoy, and take credit for being a thoughtful cultural au pair.

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"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth"...

“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Cultural au pairs are international nanniesfrom many different cultures. While Hallowe-‘en (All Hallows Eve) is celebrated around the world, Thanksgiving is an American and Canadian holiday. How does an au pair help make the holiday transition for his/her Host Family and Children?

Fall is fall, and golden decorations that reflect nature continue through November–but they darken to brown, and red as the season advances Pumpkins and decorative gourds remain appropriate until Thanksgiving, though they are turned into pie instead of of Jack O Lanterns. Candles (properly supervised) provide soft warm light as grey days increase. Strings of colored lights enchant young minds, as they change now toward the winter and Christmas colors just around the corner.

The main theme of Thanksgiving is the abundance of the harvest. The pilgrims had worked hard, with the guidance of N

ative Americans who understood how to make things grow. At Thanksgiving they celebrated and feasted one last time, before the cold harshness of winter set in.

A traditional formal Thanksgiving round to sing is Dona Nobis Pacem. In northern areas, where snow may come early, there is a common cultural favorite:

 “Over the river and through the woods,

to Grandmother’s house we go.

The horse knows the way, to carry the sleigh

Through the white and drifted snow.”

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A pumpkin carved into a jack-o'-lantern for Ha...

Halloween jack-o’-lantern, Photo Source: Wikipedia, Public Domain

Halloween is an world festival that contains elements of

  • Religion (the day after Halloween is traditionally called All Saints or All Hallows, with Halloween traditionally called All Hallows’ Eve),
  • Festival (children and parents don costumes that turn them into pumpkins, goblins, fairies and other colorful figures), and
  • Food (most Halloween celebrations involve “treats” that range from candy to harvest goodies like apple cider).

Unfortunately, Halloween has also been associated with needless tragedies and injuries. An au pair in the United States for his/her first cultural year may not understand the ins and outs of keeping Host Children safe at Halloween. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a page titled “Halloween Health and Safety Tips.” The page is part of a larger “Healthy Family” initiative that is ongoing through CDC.

Down the left side of the page is a pumpkin orange-colored bar with letters that spell out “Safe Halloween.” S tells us that “Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.” Other letters offer additional advice. To the right of the page are links for Halloween e-cards that feature pumpkins and ghosts, a healthy Halloween, and the “germ monster.”


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Diagram of the Albuquerque Box Effect when con...

Albuquerque Box Effect (Photo: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

The 41st Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta ends this weekend, October 14, 2012. In a way it is a signature event for cultural au pairs and Host Families. Many exhibitors come from the same countries that provide U.S. Department of State au pairs.

In 1972 the Balloon Fiesta consisted of 13 balloons in a parking lot; this year there were over 800 balloons aloft in the Albuquerque “box.” The “box” is the area west of the Sandia Mountains and above the Albuquerque and Rio Grande valley. Conditions are often perfect there for ballooning, and local residents become accustomed to colorful balloons above their homes and parks.

Crowds come early to the Fiesta, arriving in the dark to sample hot coffee and burritos while they watch the colorful envelopes inflate. Mass ascensions are scheduled in the mornings, beginning about 7 a.m. Balloon glows, which originated as a Christmas celebration by local ballooners, are scheduled in the evenings about 7 p.m. Balloon glows, which include the ever-fascinating special shapes, are held at the Balloon Fiesta grounds on Alameda, north of the City of Albuquerque.

For a concluding tour of this year’s Fiesta, please enjoy the following links.

Special Shapes Gallery: http://www.balloonfiesta.com/pilots-and-crew/special-shapes-directory

Balloon Glow: http://www.balloonfiesta.com/event-info/balloon-glow-2

Mass Ascensions: http://www.balloonfiesta.com/event-info/mass-ascension

Professional Photo Galleries: http://www.balloonfiesta.com/event-info/photo-galleries

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English: Au Pair

Au Pair (Photo: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

The work of preparing to become a cultural au pair is followed by the anticipation of the matching process, while the au pair is still in his/her home country. Once a match is made, final embassy and flight arrangements are made by the GoAuPair international representatives. The au pair may then arrive in New York for a special introductory workshop before traveling on to his/her Host Family.


The year that a cultural au pair spends with his/her Host Family moves quickly. Below is a general summary that is supported by the Local Area Representative and by emails and correspondence from GoAuPair headquarters in Utah.


The new au pair is flown to his/her stateside destination. The Local Area Representative will call to welcome the new au pair within 48 hours of arrival, according to Department of State regulations. An Orientation is next, to get the Host Family and au pair off to a good start. Then come arrangements for a Social Security card, a driver’s license, and education credits. Monthly contacts and required activities for au pairs and Host Families are scheduled. All of these things are within the first 3-4 months.


As the au pair approaches the half-way point in his/her program year, emails from GoAuPair begin to stress the importance of planning to return home. Decisions to apply (or not apply) for a second year in the United States, with the same Host Family, or with another family, must be made. During this time, the au pair may also travel nationally and internationally using his/her time off.

Going Home/Staying for a Second Year

As the au pair’s year enters the last four months, documents must be submitted to receive the Completion Package. The au pair will submit a transcript, certify that s/he has attended at least 4 LAR cultural events, and participate in year end surveys. Arrangements will be made to book a flight home. During the final 30 days after his/her program ends, the au pair is also free to travel within the U.S., utilizing GoAuPairs’ unique bed and breakfast program. Au pairs who choose to renew or transfer to another family


When the au pair leaves his/her home country, the year in the U.S. seems very long. However, each step is carefully planned to fit within a time frame. It is the common responsibility of the au pair, the Host Family, and the LAR to see that all steps are completed in a timely and non-stressful manner.

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Sprechen sie Deutsch? Habla espanol? Parlez-vous francais?

Seal of the United States Department of State.

Seal of the United States Department of State (Photo: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Around the world, children learn the languages and customs to which they are exposed. In Europe, it is considered a sign of a good education to be able to speak and understand several languages. In all major world countries, school children learn English as the modern language of international business and culture.

In the United States, we have long been culturally and linguistically isolated from the rest of the world. As global economy becomes a greater and greater influence for our children, it is hard to justify such isolation. Indeed, it becomes a disadvantage for our children.

GoAuPair provides cultural au pairs from countries around the world, including China, Australia/New Zealand, Germany, France, Peru, Mexico, and many others. Each cultural au pair has already learned to speak and understand English, and some are very fluent. Each cultural au pair also brings with him/her a wealth of knowledge of world culture that can help our children grow in appreciation of other people.

The Department of State wants young people from foreign countries to come to appreciate what is good about the United States. They equally want young Americans to develop an appreciation of what is good about the world around them. Cultural au pairs provide an important link in this education. Living with their host families 24/7 naturally encourages a positive exchange of values and knowledge.

To view presently available cultural au pairs, please visit GoAuPair.

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