Does it matter which country is an au pair from?

Which country is the best au pair from? It is one of the most readable posts of the Go Au Pair Philadelphia blog. This post was from July 2011, written by Anna T., who is a host mother and an author of articles about hosting an au pair: How to hire an au pairHow to save money on an au pair programHow to welcome your new au pair. Nine years later, Anna’s family is still hosting Au Pairs. Their last Au Pair was from Ukraine and Anna’s big family is waiting for the next Au Pair arrival.

 Go Au Pair recruits Au Pairs from many countries, and very popular are Brazilian, Chinese, Colombian, Ecuadorian, El Salvadorian, European, Mexican, and South African Au Pairs. Faced with so many choices of au pair candidates, it is only natural for a host family to look for a way to narrow the search down. A question many au pair agency staff and local counselors hear from host families is, tell us which countries the best au pairs come from.

The real answer is – it depends. The best au pair for one family can be a bad fit for another family. A lot depends on the personality and experience of the individual au pair. But there are also some common traits and cultural values that shape candidates from different countries

Cultural differences, not to be confused with stereotypes, are the result of an upbringing in a different country, with its own culture, religion and values. For example, au pairs from many Latin American countries typically have close family relationships, and are very affectionate and loving with children, and believe in God. Au pairs from Asia take their job extremely seriously, and value education.

There are also differences shaped by the living conditions in a country, that are not cultural. For example, in some Asian countries it might not be common for young women to drive or own a car, so au pairs from those countries might be not very experienced drivers.

In some countries the economic divide between rich and poor is so great, that every middle class family has a maid, so an au pair from such a country might not have a clue about simple domestic tasks (but might be perfectly willing and excited to learn!).

In more prosperous countries it might be easier for a high school graduate to pay for applying to the au pair program, and less lucrative to do so for a college graduate – so the candidate pool from such countries might be considerably younger.

Another factor in family country preference is personal experience, or experience of others.
For experienced host families, their preference for a certain country might be shaped by their personal experience with the au pair program. After an unsuccessful match, it is natural to avoid candidates from the same area of the world, for the next few years, or forever.

Or conversely, after good luck with candidates from a certain country, it is natural to look to repeat the same experience. Ease, difficulty or speed of obtaining au pair visas also varies from country to country. This factor can also dictate country choice for au pair host families.

Au pair agencies keep statistics of the percentage of au pairs from each country who drive, who are under two qualified, who are college graduates, who obtain visas. If a family wants to narrow down the choice of countries, it can be helpful to speak to the agency representative when trying to figure out candidates from which countries might be the best fit for the family childcare needs.

Does it matter which country is an au pair from? Did you host many Au Pairs? What do you think?

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