Updated: May 23
Cultural care au pair is a mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity for both au pairs and host families. Living in another country is essentially living another culture. As a cultural care au pair, you may want to make the most of it by really connect with your family, make some local friends besides other au pairs you meet. It could be the same for the host family, host family and children are closely connected with the au pair’s culture with their daily interaction together.
To be a cultural care au pair can be different from and could be better than to take up any conventional part-time job in many ways if you look at the cultural part of it. Any other chance to get you so closely connected to the local? Hardly! So why not make the most of it, by learning a new language (or polish it) and building a bond with your host family.
For your successful experience, there are 8 great tips you can’t miss. （To make it more specific, this article will take China as an example.)
1. Learn the local language
Mandarin Chinese, a total of 1.051 billion speakers (native 873 million, 2nd 178 million), is a very practical language to pick up, either out of your interest or to have your CV stand out. To make the most of the experience in China, you would attend Mandarin Chinese classes and alongside with culture classes and experiential cultural events. With the language immersion and language classes base on HSK curriculum (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi or the Chinese Proficiency Test).
The Chinese language is not that difficult to learn. You will start with Pinyin, which uses the same letters as in English. “Hello” in Chinese “nǐ hǎo”. “Thank you” in Chinese is “xiè xiè”. You won’t need Chinese characters like “你好”for “Hello” until HSK3 Intermediate level.
2. Be a pleasant family member with your host family
To understand the culture and people, you will find the best way is to be connected and involved. Being a cultural care au pair is also being a family member, you may spend as much time as you can with your host family! Esp. during your first couple of weeks together, you will warm up quickly with your new “family members” and bond well with your host siblings.
Try to participate in family’s social events and family events. Have fun together and make contributions as a member of the family.
Chinese culture can be very different from yours. Like during a festival meal or social meal, you may find seats in the central and facing the door are taken as the most prestigious ones, most likely to be offered to the senior or most important guests. The host will try to offer food and serve tea or drinks to everyone. If you are attending such a dining party, you may show your appreciation by saying “thank you” or tap two fingers against the table. And whenever you want a cup of tea, out of politeness, you may follow the custom and try to serve others, esp. ones sitting next to you.
3. Exchange your cultures
Share with your host family about your culture, festivals, your city, and even your interesting neighbors! Children would always like to hear interesting exotic songs, taste your food that can be very different but super yummy!
How do you celebrate Christmas or one of the biggest festivals’ in your country? Any coming carnivals in your home country that you could talk with your host children? And how about do some bakery with your host sibling?
4. Be aware of your responsibilities
Unlike most au pair cultures, the cultural care au pairs’ main responsibilities are teaching English or your mother tongue to your host sibling, assisting with English homework, assisting with the school run, and being a positive role model.
What you gain from this experience could also be different. You would advance your child skills with more educating skills. For your host sibling, you are a mentor, a confidant, and a friend. Would you be qualified enough to take up the role? If you are an educated young adult with genuine enthusiasm in helping children to grow, yes!!
5. Enjoy your time with your host sibling
How do you teach your child English? Play! Be creative about having fun together! Children learn better when they are having fun and involved. Think about all the games you could do with your host children, and do them in English!
Being a cultural care au pair is a learning process itself, enjoy your growing and be proud of your host siblings’ language achievement.
6. Be sincere and genuine
Despite the language and cultural difference, it’s always highly appreciated when the host family sees your sincere devotion to helping them. It may happen that at the beginning, you’re a bit rusty in organizing activities and set up a teaching routine for your host siblings. But you are trying various approaches, spending valuable time to know the children’s language skills, interests, personalities…… Your efforts will be seen obviously by your host family.
In case you lack children's activity inspirations or need professional help with organizing your teaching routine, never hesitate to contact your program facilitator for the support! It’s very rewarding when you feel children warming up with you, feeling more secure with you. It’s always a very emotionally rewarding experience to put effort into children.
7. Have a structure for regular open communication with your host parents
It’s very important to keep your host parents updated about your interaction with children, their expectations and requirements. Share with your host parents about children’s English progress, behavioral changes, bond with you, etc.
If you sense a bit odd dynamic in the family, talk with your host parents. There might be some problems or miscommunication going on. Be open to talking about it with a consensus that we want to solve a problem and do better. If the problem or miscommunication is more than what you feel you can cope with, you may contact your program facilitator and trust their professional in cross-culture communication and experience in dealing with similar situations.
Try to communicate face-to-face, which will ensure more accurately the expectations aligned. And body language might tip you off to unspoken discomfort or concerns.
8. Your host family’s house is now your home!
Being a cultural care au pair, you are a family that lives under the same roof. Take your host family’s house as your home! Though taking up heavy housework is not within your obligation, you are to be a pleasant family member by taking good care of your own room, laundry, and dishes.
When you are teaching your host sibling, clear up afterward and protect the house as of your own. It’s all about being a pleasant family member and take care of your own room’s tidiness.
Above are the eight best cultural care au pair tips in 2020! It takes Au Pair in China as an example to give you a more specific idea! Of course, it starts by making the plan and taking the adventure to your next destination!
Once you start the experience, everything happens very naturally, to fit in, bond, transit, and enjoy living in the other part of the globe!!