Some families in Montclair sat down to an extra special Thanksgiving feast last Thursday, with young international guests – their au pairs – many of whom experienced the holiday for the first time.
The au pairs, who can often be graduates, teachers or college students doing a year out, are part of a unique cultural exchange program and live with local families, helping to care for their children, as Kristen has reported recently.
Carolina, 20, from Mexico, joined her host family who live in Glen Ridge, for Thanksgiving lunch at a clubhouse.
“It’s a really nice holiday and the whole family gets together and has a chance to talk and thank each other,” said Carolina, who later that evening celebrated an all-American Thanksgiving at a girlfriend’s house with several other friends.
“We had our own Thanksgiving and roasted a Turkey and made sweet potatoes and everything just like an American Thanksgiving,” she said.
Jessica, 20, from Germany, joined her Montclair host family, their children aged 2 and 5, and 30 family members for Thanksgiving dinner, together with a friend who was visiting from Germany.
“In the morning, my friend and I went to New York to watch the Thanksgiving Parade, and in the afternoon we had a typical Thanksgiving dinner with my host family,” said Jessica.
“It was great! Kind of like Christmas,” she said. “It has been a good experience for me, and living here these past four months has already improved my English, given me experience working with young children and I have learnt a lot about American culture.”
Dana Kelly, local childcare coordinator at Cultural Care Au Pair, said many of the international youths involved themselves in the celebrations and some prepared dishes from their home countries, making the event a multicultural feast.
The host families have plenty to be thankful for, as the au pairs have eased the workload and some of the financial burden of childcare for them, even as they have enriched the family’s lives with tidbits of their own culture.
The au pairs are happy, too.
“I have really, really enjoyed my eight months with my host family,” said Carolina. “I get a little homesick sometimes, but it has been a wonderful experience.”
For details on hosting an au pair, ring Dana Kelly at 609.947.4493 or email her, firstname.lastname@example.org