marți, 29 ianuarie 2013

About Au Pair USA- message from Gena

Message from Gena, DGE USA:
The effect of the J-1 programs on an individual or on a family can be quite life-changing. My family hosted aupairs, another J-1 program, from 1992 until 1999. We welcomed aupairs from Belgium, Iceland, Germany, France and Australia into our home. Also, I was an aupair coordinator of a large cluster from 1997 until 2009. During those many years my family had the wonderful experience of getting to know hundreds of aupairs from every continent (except Antarctica, sadly). These young women and men gave us not only the gift of their friendship, but allowed us to see the world through their eyes. We began to understand that other cultures are not “better” or “worse” than ours… but, “different.” We learned to value those differences. We began to see our culture through the eyes of others. We learned how bizarre Americans can sometimes be. Why, some aupairs would ask, do Americans always say “How are you?”… but, they don’t really want to know? I’d never thought how strange that was. We learned that eating ONLY with a fork was considered quite primitive by most other cultures. As was eating eggs only for breakfast, always baking a cake from a box, not taking off shoes at the door, not kissing when greeting another, sleeping with a “top sheet”, putting too many pillows on a bed as decoration, men wearing long shorts to swim, women wearing “diaper” bottoms to swim/sun, believing that pre-marital sex and drinking before 21 years is wrong, and on and on. These small things had quite an effect on my family. It created endless discussions. Finally it changed us all. No longer did we see our culture as “normal” and others as bizarre. We saw that while each culture develops different traditions and ways of living, we are all very similar. We are just people. We all want peace. We all want safety. We all want to be well fed. We all want our families and friends to be happy.