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Exploring Cultural Differences
More than one-third of enrolling host families request a country of preference and 85% prefer Western Europe, mostly due to similarities in language and culture.
Au pair agencies recruit their au pairs from over 50-55 countries worldwide. Finally, there's a better way to research au pairs and the countries they come from. We review the best and most popular countries and cultures for you, the consumer.
Cultural differences abound and understanding your au pair's culture and nationality is key in your decision to hire the right au pair for your family.
We identify the Potential Strengths and Weaknesses of au pairs from the most Popular Countries below:
Au Pair Clearinghouse can help you make the right choice for your family!
Spanish Au Pairs
Spanish au pairs are increasingly popular with American families who are eager to have their children learn Spanish. As public and private schools across the country require all students to study Spanish, having a built-in “tutor” at home is very appealing to parents. In addition, American families are becoming more interested in Europe and with Spanish speaking cultures.
For many decades, Spanish au pairs have been an important part of the cultural exchange program. The idea of being an au pair is widely known throughout Spain and most applicants do not have any difficulty paying for the program entrance fees. Today, au pairs from Spain are recruited and placed throughout Spain, Western Europe and in America.
Characteristics: Host parents enjoy Spanish au pairs because they are highly educated, mature, relaxed and possess a warm and engaging personality. They have a sense of adventure and will try new things and enjoy novel experiences. Because they are very family oriented, they tend to get homesick, and sometimes they want to return home because they miss their family and friends so much. Read our article on Cultural Shock to learn how to help your homesick au pair adjust well to her new home!
Paraguayan Au Pairs
by Leticia Vallejo, Program Director
Global Education, Paraguay
The Au Pair program started in Paraguay in 2005, supported by Global Education. Since then more than 300 Paraguayans has benefited from this program. Global Education is known in Paraguay as the leading Au Pair organization.
Paraguay is located in the heart of South America; due to its location people from Paraguay speak Spanish, which is the second language more spoken in the US. Many American host families prefer au pairs from Paraguay since they are willing to share the language with the kids in the house and reinforce the skills with them.
Paraguayan au pairs have been known as hard working, friendly, flexible and responsible caregivers. They easily adjust to a new culture and are good following instructions.
Japan - the Land of the Rising Sun
Overview of Japanese Culture and Japanese Au Pairs
Known as “The Land of the Rising Sun”, the serenity of the The Japanese landscape is as tranquil and serene as the courteous manner of its people. From the bustling metropolitan of Tokyo to the stark beauty of the countryside, this island country is truly unique. Japan has made a tremendous impact on the world. With their influential contributions in the fields of technology and popular culture coupled with their reverence for family life, Japanese au pairs are a wonderful way to introduce a loving caregiver for your children into your home. In 2010, a Japanese au pair won the Au Pair of the Year Award! This was the first time an au pair from Asia won the International award.
Overview of French Culture and French Au Pairs
France is the largest country in the European Union (EU) and has been a major power for many centuries with strong economic, cultural, military and political influence.
France is a developed country and possesses the fifth largest economy in the world. France is the most visited country worldwide, receiving 82 million foreign tourists annually.
Paris is the capital of France and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Many au pairs come from Paris.
Why do French au pairs desire to come to America? Do they really smoke heavily?
What are their main motivations for becoming an au pair? Do French au pairs drive? Find out now by reading our article on France and French au pairs.
Overview of Brazilian Culture and Brazilian Au Pairs
By far the largest of the Latin American countries, Brazil occupies nearly half the continent of South America. Brazil is currently divided into five regions and each region is composed of states with similar cultural, economical, historical and social aspects. Brazil is currently divided into five regions and each region is composed of states with similar cultural, economical, historical and social aspects. The Northern part of Brazil is covered by the Amazon rain forest.
Potential Strengths of the Brazilian Au Pair
1. Most au pairs are highly motivated to successfully complete their cultural exchange year. They understand this experience will boost their resume and chances of a better job once they return home. As a result, they really desire to do a good job and work hard at taking care of your children.
2. Au pairs are generally motivated to learn good, proper English and they will work hard to accomplish this. They are open to the host family's encouragement and assistance with their English lessons and most au pairs' English skills quickly ...
Au Pairs from Mexico
Mexico's cities and urban areas underwent a rapid growth and development during the 20th century, resulting in a contemporary lifestyle that is similar to those of the United States and the capitals of Europe. Only between 4 and 9 percent of Mexicans still live on less than one dollar a day, a level close to that found in some of the world's poorest countries (Worldbank.org).
Mexican au pairs are very keen on improving their English skills! This is a a primary reason behind their desire to join a cultural exchange program and come to America.
Mexican au pairs seek to improve their career and job opportunities by spending a year in the U.S.A. - their English will be greatly improved and the American experience and college credit they receive will enhance their job options. Mexican au pairs are characterized as warm, loving and full of fun and energy.
Thailand - Land of Smiles
Overview of Thai Culture and Thai Au Pairs
Thailand is known as the "land of smiles" for its warm and friendly people. Thailand means "land of the free" and is the only country in Southeast Asia that was never colonized. Thailand has a 800 year old history and was formerly known as Siam. The name was changed to Thailand when it became a democratic government in 1939.
Thailand is roughly the size of France with the shape similar to the profile of an elephant, with the long trunk stretching down its peninsular.
Thailand, a friendly country that boasts perfect weather, warm gulf waters, beautiful beaches and delicious cuisine, is a tourist's delight and a popular destination worldwide.
Thai au pairs are usually college educated but their English and driving skills are mixed. Find out what you need really need to focus on when interviewing Thais in our well-researched article about this fascinating country and read about the potential strengths and weaknesses of au pairs from Thailand.
China the Dragon
Overview of Chinese Culture and Chinese Au Pairs
The Chinese government opened its doors to foreign business in the 1970s and has not looked back since. Business is booming and statistics show that by 2025, China will be the world's largest economy! China has low unemployment due to their strong economy and au pairs do not have difficulty paying fees to sign up with au pair agencies. China is known as a state of etiquette and ceremonies. Courtesy to others, especially one's elder, is still very important in Chinese culture. American host families like to match with Chinese au pairs in order to expose their young children to Mandarin. The "one child only policy" still exists in China, so remember most, if not all, au pairs are an "only child" and are not used to large families with sisters or brothers. China's economic miracle impresses all those who travel there. As you stroll through major cities, you will see signs of progress everywhere: tall new office buildings, posh five-star hotels, gleaming, new and high-speed trains and modern and sleek airports, fancy residential towers and beautiful shopping malls that offer all the newest designer "goodies." However, despite the new, rich and modern China, there is significant poverty for most of the population. Because of a vast disparity of income levels and a developing "class" system, most au pairs will have difficulty finding the money to pay for program fees. So, we expect that most of the Chinese au pairs arriving in the U.S.A are from the new and prosperous families who have the financial resources to foot the bill to send their daughter to America.
Colombian Au Pairs
Colombia is a relatively new market for au pair agencies and becoming increasingly more popular. We attended a workshop last year on Colombian au pairs and what the agent told the group about these young ladies was very impressive. The demographics of the group of au pairs coming from Colombia reads like the Mary Poppinsau pairs! First, the majority of young women applying for the program come from the middle and upper classes in Colombia and most of them are educated in private schools.
So, they are highly educated compared to the rest of the population. In addition, most Colombian families have between 2-3 children and therefore the "only child" is not common (experience with siblings provide a teaching model in sharing with others, learning to wait for their turn and experience in caring for younger siblings).
South African Au Pairs
This country has no one single culture because of its highly diverse and varied ethnic groups. Cultural differences are grouped along ethnic populations:
Whites, Blacks, Mixed-race peoples and Asians. Whites are in the minority and most lead middle or upper class lifestyles similar to whites in the USA or in Europe. White South Africans hold strong religious beliefs divided among the three main churches: Dutch Reform Church, the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Church.
South Africa's largest population consists of blacks, many who still live in rural areas and lead impoverished lives. Increasingly, more Blacks speak English in addition to Afrikaans and their native tongue. Many blacks are Christians who have strong religious beliefs.
The Asian (from India) population is growing and the majority speak English. They have strong family bonds and maintain their own heritage, culture, language and religious beliefs (Hindu, Muslim and Christian). A large majority of Indians reside in Durban, on the coast of South Africa. South African au pairs are known to be high energy, motivated to do well and love children.
Germany and German Au Pairs
The idea of traveling to the United States to become an au pair is a very familiar concept in Germany. These young women are motivated by several factors including a desire to become more independent, to improve their English skills, and to experience American culture. German youth are fascinated with American music, TV programs, Hollywood stars and movies.
In addition, young German women know that a year abroad that improves her English is a significant plus on her resume, greatly increasing her job potential once she returns home.
Therefore, the au pair program continues to be a highly popular gap year for young women who usually return to Germany to continue at University.
Approximately 37% of all au pairs who arrive in the United States are from Western Europe and 23% of that number are from Germany (although in recent years, that trend seems to be declining).
Russian Au Pairs
by Carol Lima
Russian Au Pairs are a great option for any family considering au pair child care.
For years, Russian au pairs have been known as hard working and friendly care givers. Many host families prefer au pairs from Russia because they experience minimal cultural shock due to substantial westernization in Russia.
Host parents also enjoy Russia au pairs because many have good driving skills and have been exposed to similar driving rules in their home country.
Motivation to be an Au Pair: Russian au pairs want to come to the United States to...
What You Need to Know About Irish Au Pairs
Au pairs from Ireland were among the first groups to be recruited by au pair agencies in the mid-80s, but their numbers dwindled dramatically over the next two decades, as Irish youth had no trouble finding employment in their own country. Today, Ireland is experiencing hard times because of the global economic crisis and unemployment among young people is very high. As a result, Irish au pairs will become increasingly popular again with American host parents, particularly those families with an Irish background and heritage.
This is certainly good news since Irish au pairs have, in the past, worked out very well for American families.
They speak great English, are mature and responsible, very friendly, and adapt well into our culture.