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Interview with Go Au Pair's Au Pair Sis

Edina:  Hi Janine and thank you for taking the time to interview with Au Pair Clearinghouse.  Au Pair Sis is a great idea and we congratulate you and applaud this wonderful opportunity to educate and support foreign au pairs who want to learn more about American culture.  How did the idea come about? 
 
Janine:  Hi Edina! Thanks for speaking with me. As a Local Area Representative for Go Au Pair, it was really important to me that the Au Pairs in my cluster felt that they had every advantage to make the most out of their experience in America. They expressed a need to connect with other au pairs in the program, learn more about the American culture and wanted answers to questions about the au pair program and caring for their Host Family. I spoke with Go Au Pair about their needs and I was blown away by how responsive the whole team was in regards to the happiness and experience of the au pairs and their Host Families. We discussed how these needs could be met, not just for the au pairs in my cluster, but for all of our au pairs.

Purpose of Au Pair Sis

Edina:  What is the main purpose of Au Pair Sis?  What do you want to accomplish with your advice, blog and Facebook page?
 
Janine:  The mission of the Au Pair Sis is to create an interactive and fun community for au pairs by providing ongoing support and advice to maximize their cultural exchange experience while enhancing the quality of childcare they provide for their host families. It is important that all of the au pairs know that they are not alone. They have someone looking out for them, supporting them and offering them advice; just like a sister!  As the eldest sibling to my 3 younger sisters, offering support and advice came naturally for me. I support Au Pairs that are currently in the program and those interested in signing up, on our online community on Facebook, by answering any questions they may have about childcare, the Au Pair program and motivation to make them feel less homesick.
 
While I may be the Au Pair Sis, the program reaches out to the Go Au Pair team and the local area representatives (LARS) to offer support to all of the au pairs and to make sure that they are getting the most out of this amazing cultural childcare experience. We hope that by making our programs, such as our Cultural Difference posts and videos as well as Ask Au Pair Sis posts and videos, available in our blog and on Facebook, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube, it is accessible to everyone; regardless of where they choose to connect.
 
Edina:  What has been the response so far?  Do you get questions daily from your agency’s au pairs? 
 
Janine: The response has been great! We have tons of au pairs who tag Au Pair Sis-Go Au Pair in their Facebook photos, to share their experience, and I have met up with many of them in video chats on Google+ Hangouts!  It has been so exciting to connect with Au Pairs and those interested in becoming Au Pairs. I want everyone to know that they can reach out to me and I am available to connect with them and help them get answers to any questions they may have. Not just Monday through Friday, but I have been staying connected on the weekends too! I can be reached by email, on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. If I am not on the computer, I have my Smartphone with me and I check it to see if anyone is trying to reach out to me.

Role as Au Pair Sis
 
Edina: Janine, staying connected to your au pairs through the weekend, and basically 24/7 is an amazing example of excellent customer service.  Many times we forget that au pairs are also customers of au pair programs and this service is probably the first of its kind!  I applaud your dedication to your role as Au Pair Sis and I see this as a wonderful intervention tool for au pairs who cannot connect with their counselors in a an emergency and or on the weekends.
 
Would you tell our readers about yourself and how you were chosen as Au Pair Sis? 
 
Janine: Thank you! I feel very honored to be chosen in this position and that I have been able to use my life’s experience to fulfill the duties of the Au Pair Sis. I was born and raised in America. Both of my parents are from New York and I was raised in New Jersey. I have family all over the country and I love sharing my American culture with Go Au Pairs.  I have always been interested in childcare and I have been working with children for about 22 years; 12 of those years were spent as a nanny.

Working as a nanny has given me great insight into the childcare aspect of being an au pair and working with parents to raise their children. In many ways, I have been in their situation and can relate on many levels. I have come to understand the needs of a family and the dynamic between the parents, the children and the childcare provider. In addition, I have really enjoyed working with Go Au Pair as a LAR. I feel that I have the advantage of seeing every angle of the au pair experience and it makes me a useful source.
 
Special Projects & Events
 
Edina: Do you have any special projects or events planned for Au Pair Sis in the New Year?
 
Janine:  We have so many great projects currently in place and will continue to explore them. We have informative programs, such as Cultural Differences and Ask Au Pair Sis; fun programs like our Au Pair Experiences; and great ideas to make the most out of the time the au pair spends with the Host Family, like our Recipe Boards and Kids Corner Boards on Pinterest! 
 

  • Cultural Differences:  Au pairs can learn about American Culture by watching the videos on our Cultural Differences posts:  www.goaupair.com/au-pair-sis/blog/cultural-differences
  • Ask Au Pair Sis: I get tons of questions from Au Pairs about the Au Pair program, childcare and adjusting to the American lifestyle. Together with Local Area Representatives, or someone in our Go Au Pair Home Office, we have helpful and informative videos that are added all the time.  This can be found on our blog here www.goaupair.com/au-pair-sis/blog/ask-au-pair-sis
  • Au Pair Experiences: I have been connecting with a lot of Au Pairs in Google+ Hangouts to learn about their experiences in America. Their videos can be a great resources for Au Pairs that are starting their journey, those wanting to learn about another Au Pair’s experience or someone thinking about getting involved with the program. It is also a fun way for Au Pairs to interact with the online community on Facebook.  
  • Staying Connected - in our Google+ Hangouts, we discuss:

Overcoming cultural difference issues
The relationship the Au Pair has with the host parents and host kids
City/State specifics – the Au Pair’s perspective on why it is great to be living where they are placed
Suggestions/Advice, for both Au Pairs (those considering the program), as well as for the Host Families (insight from the Au Pair on how Host Families can maximize the exchange experience - from an Au Pair’s perspective)

Edina, we are always coming up with more ways to interact, inform and have fun. We are always listening to our au pairs and we are open to their ideas as well!
 
In 2013, we are looking forward to reaching out to our Au Pair Alumni event to reconnect with past au pairs. We will be emailing them and asking them to share their experience and how we can improve and grow the experience for others in the program. It will be a great way for them to share their experience and be another resource for Au Pairs to get support and encouragement. We want to encourage them to also become a part of our online community as well. We will also be offering more ways for au pairs to win cool prizes with our challenges and clubs!

Edina:  Janine, this is an outstanding and challenging list and I congratulate you and your agency in your dedication to your au pairs and host families.  I think the Au Pair Alumni program is truly innovative and will provide you with great feedback that should help continue to improve your program.  I don't think any other agency has thought of this and it is a wonderful idea to reconnect with au pairs. 
 
Advice for Host Families

Edina:  Janine, you really seem to know au pairs well, and what they would like.  Do you have any suggestions to our host families regarding their au pairs?  For example, what are some ways that families can help new au pairs transition to a new culture and how should families extend themselves in order to make their au pair feel welcomed? 
 
Janine:  Patience and communication are crucial – to a host family, there are many household items, cultural traditions and customs that seem very obvious to natives that may not be so obvious to someone from another country.  Another way to aid au pairs in this is to point them in the direction of the Culture Differences section of our blog; I have many helpful videos on the subject and we add more weekly.  I think that host families will find that sharing their town and customs with an au pair make experiences new and exciting, not only for the au pair, but for the host family as well.

Au Pair Tip:  Au pairs from our  Google+ Hangouts have recommended that Host Families ask prospective au pairs about special foods that they eat in their home country and try to keep these types of food in their home.  Au pairs say that this is a great way to make an au pair feel closer to home - it also demonstrates to them that their Host Family appreciates who they are and where they come from.
 
Trends in the Au Pair Community

Edina:  I always enjoy asking au pair industry leaders about trends in the au pair industry, because I find the au pair program so interesting.  Do you have any thoughts or predictions on trends going forward? 
 
Janine:  I think that with the advancements and accessibility to the Internet and social media, we will see a lot more families choosing the au pair program because their concerns about an au pair adjusting to a new environment will be greatly reduced. 

A resourceful au pair can find out how to help the kids with homework, remain in contact with their family and friends on Facebook/Skype and discover what you would typically find at a bake sale, all from the comfort of her own room!  They have a network of people available to help them bridge the cultural gap and expand the cultural knowledge of a family right at their fingertips!
 
Edina:  Well Janine, all of this sounds so wonderful and I really think that Go Au Pair is an agency that is on the right track.  Reaching out to their au pairs through Au Pair Sis will create a supportive au pair community that is unique among the U.S. au pair agencies.  I look forward to following your success and accomplishments as Au Pair Sis!  Please let us know when you have a new event for au pairs, and we will be happy to post this on our website. 
 
Thank you very much for taking the time to interview with Au Pair Clearinghouse! 

Janine:  Edina, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. We are all very excited about connecting and improving the cultural childcare experience! I will certainly let you know about our next exciting event!
 


Read more about Janine in her bio   Visit Au Pair Sis at Go Au Pair!


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