AuPair - A Year of Meetings in Review

By Joana Godinho, Community Counselor in the Washington, D.C. Area


A Joana Godinho, Conselheira de Intercâmbio Cultural Luso-Americano e Community Counselor e que dá todo a ajuda necessária às novas "au pairs" que chegam aos EUA e a este Estado, escreveu recentemente um apanhado das principais atividades realizadas com as Aupairs em Nova Iorque ao longo do ano de 2016.


Artigo originalmente escrito na revista “EurAuPair Gazette” Nº65.



Every year the U.S. receives approximately one million exchange students. As a community counselor I am a cultural broker that helps a small group to adjust to a new country.

My goal: After our au pairs go through the bureaucracy of getting their driver’s license, a social security number, opening their bank account, and figuring out how to get around in this town, we move on to the next item - appreciating their host home. I want them to have the time of their lives!

My method: I aim to make the meetings a fun experience. Planning ahead, I schedule most meetings two months in advance, aiming to obtain a goal like fitness or about some cultural aspect. The meetings should also be budget friendly. I find activities the
au pairs like by involving them in the decision making process. I also try to negotiate lower rates with organizations by sending an introduction email.

When I hosted the last meeting of the year in December and signed the au pairs’ folios, I realized how diverse my meetings were. We did a bit of everything – races, volunteering, we learned about American culture, and had lunch at the same place former President Obama goes to. So I decided to write this article to share with the community what our year looked like!

JANUARY:
Brunch at Colloton Family
(Price $0)

The Colloton Family is a role model family. They welcomed Anna as a member of the family. On this date, they hosted this brunch so they could say goodbye to Pia, their previous au pair, and introduce Anna to family and friends. They were kind enough to allow me to bring the rest of my group to the event.

FEBRUARY:
Lunch at Ben Chili’s Bowl
(Price $5+)

President Obama and other VIP guests had lunch at this location. It’s located in a historic neighborhood of Washington DC – U Street.

MARCH:
Feed Homeless People at Lincoln Park, Washington DC
(Price $0)

Giving back to the community is something that is part of the US culture and we would like our
au pairs to experience it. (Credits to Community Counselor Anne Krohn for taking the lead on this volunteer opportunity.)



APRIL:
O Street Mansion at Washington DC
(Price $10)

April is cultural month. We toured the O Street Mansion and explored the museum and its collection of more than 20,000 paintings, photographs, sculptures, books, artifacts, and music, from all over the globe. Among the 100 rooms we searched for secret doors, signed guitars, memorabilia, and enjoyed the art.

MAY:
Color Run - 5k at Gaylord Center, MD
(Price $40)

Fitness is as important as culture! Living abroad brings some extra pounds. I convinced my girls to run the color run. They had a great time and at the end they said, “Let’s do this again next year!” And I might take them on that offer! (The organization took $5 off, the price above reflects that discount.)



JUNE:
June Meeting
(Price $0)

This monthly meeting was conducted by Area Coordinator Holly Brown.

JULY:
Swimming Pool
(Price $0)

A hot afternoon in Washington DC requires to get a tan. YES! DC is known for its tropical weather... and we couldn’t resist to have crepes post swimming pool.

AUGUST:
Starbucks
(Price $5)

Urgh. I don’t want to be a Starbucks CC. But here’s the silver living: Starbucks is American!

SEPTEMBER:
Super Hero Bar Crawl at Washington DC
(Price $10)

The girls dressed up and we had a social drink in some bars in DC.



OCTOBER:
Hold US Flags at the MCM, volunteer with Wear Blue
(Price $0)

One American quirk that I love is to have flags everywhere. Even if we want to forget where we live, we can’t. Americans are very protective when it comes to their flag - can’t touch the floor, needs to be held high and free… So we volunteered with Wear Blue, a veterans non-profit organization, to hold US flags in honor of those who served this great country. We learned more about the flag etiquette.



NOVEMBER:
NYC Marathon - Volunteer NYC, NY
(Price $0)

My girls were more excited than I, and when I offered the possibility to volunteer, they immediately accepted. There was a total of 1000 au pairs from ALL over the states. I offered a RT bus ticket and the girls did leg work and found free lodging at a monastery. They described this event as exhausting (60.000+ thirsty runners stopped by their mile) and life changing. Let me make you envious, they gave water to elite runners and famous people. Ah!

DECEMBER:
Brunch with gift exchange, Gatsby’s Tavern
(Price $14)

The founders of the American Independence had lunch at this restaurant. And if you haven’t visited it, you are missing out. I tagged along with Community Counselor Anne Krohn; we hosted brunch and did some Secret Santa gift exchange. (The restaurant is au pair budget friendly, brunch starts at $7.)
If you are reading this and would like to be part of my meetings, please email me - whether you are a community counselor or an au pair who just wants to make new friends. We will make room for you.

I would like to dedicate this article to my AMAZING 2016 AU PAIRS: Bruna D’Avila (Brazil) and Anna Rossi (Italy) who always want to do fun things. This would not be possible without them. One last note, Bruna and Anna recently surprised me by signing-up for the Rock and Roll half marathon in D.C. and challenged me to join them. Being a runner myself, I think I have motivated them into the world of fitness!

The planning for the 2017 meetings is still in the works. In addition to Anna and Bruna, I recently got two au pairs - Tiphaine (France) and Vittoria (Italy). I am sure they will have a great time too. Meetings can be fun!

Joana Godinho

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