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Congratulations to Laura G. of Spain- WINNER of the 2017 Au Pair of the Year Contest!

Nominated by the Tanner Family in North Dakota


"What is a gift? A gift is something you wanted or needed but never thought you could afford. A gift is a surprise that could bring you joy or bless your life. I call Laura Garcia a gift. She is a gift to myself and to my children.

Nine months ago my 14 year old son came home after meeting the neighbor’s au pair and said to me “Mom we need an au pair”. At that time I had left my professional career for two years to focus on the care and needs of my five children. I had spent a year trying to overcome some health challenges while working with a son who struggles with low self-esteem, ADHD and anxiety.

When we met Laura through Skype she stood out in a different way than all the other applicants we interviewed. She had a secondary education degree in her country and had a dream to become an English teacher like her Mom. She had a warmth, sincerity and maturity that drew my family to her. She comes from the Spanish Canary islands. Her island is a tourist destination known for its beaches and warm climate. I knew Laura had a sense of adventure when she agreed to experience the severe winters of North Dakota and the challenges of caring for 5 children.LauraGPhotos1

It was never difficult to get to know Laura. She has welcomed us in her heart and her life. She included us from day one in sharing her dreams and experiences in America. It was her openness in sharing her life with us that made it so easy to love her and make her a part of our family. It is easy to have open communication with Laura because of her gratitude and love for her host family. She carries herself with a sense of confidence which allows her not to shy away from communicating with us about her wants and needs.

Shortly after her arrival the public school system was having a hard time meeting my 14 year old son’s educational needs and began to encourage us to look for other alternatives. This had been an on-going challenge for 4 years. I had spent a lot of nights worrying how to help my son. Laura was by my side listening to me, my son and the school. I realized I had a teacher in my home and maybe together we could home school my son. This was not an easy task. Many past teachers expressed their frustration. Laura did not shy away from the challenge. She was willing to teach him in the morning. She realized that it helped to take him to the YMCA/gym to home school. He seemed to listen to her instructions better if she gave him breaks at the gym where they exercise together. She has been able to teach him as she has won his trust and love. She has been able to place boundaries as he tries to manipulate how his day should go. She was an answer to a long struggle. A struggle I am confident I could have not faced on my own.

My third grade son has always tested below grade level in reading. Laura was willing to read with him after school and his reading level has improved. She has taught two of my children to play the guitar in exchange for paying for piano lessons. Her love of music has helped her learn a new instrument. She has shared her love of music with our family as she has played her guitar and shared her beautiful voice.

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When Laura is not around, all my children ask where she is and when she is coming back. She has helped free up my time to allow me to nurture myself. Simply being able to get away allows me to be a better Mom. She has also allowed me to prepare to return to my profession. This has brought a joy in my life that I never realized I missed.

Laura is not someone who wants to experience America but rather one who wants to inhale America. This includes embracing -35 Fahrenheit weather, snow skiing for the first time, and learning about different religions/cultures. She has a dream to visit every state in the United State and because of this goal she was willing to go on a long road trip with a neighbor and her four children to experience Chicago Illinois. She had a dream to attend an American college so enrolled at Bismarck State College’s cultural diversity course despite high out of State tuition costs.

She never shies away from meeting new people and service. She is stretching herself as she has accepted volunteer assignments to present at a high school Spanish class and a college Spanish class about her country. One taxi driver was grateful for her help digging him out of a snow bank. We hope that Laura can become an ambassador to future au pairs. And that more gifted, grateful, deserving au pairs can become a gift to families around the world.


 

Laura's Accompanying Nomination Video!

Laura's nomination video was lovingly created by one of her 5 host children. It is a true testament to the bond she shares with her host family!

Laura's IAPA Au Pair of the Year Contest Essay!

 

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As long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamt to come to the United States. So when I had the  chance,  I  visited  the  country  in  four  different  occasions  as  a  tourist,  but  it  was  not  until  I became  an  au  pair  that  I felt  the reality  of the  American  culture. Being  an  au  pair  is  a  cultural immersion.  It means  experiencing the  politics, the food, religions,  and  the  racial  diversity.  This has made me grow up, be more appreciative and tolerant about people, I’ve learnt how to live and how to see life from a different perspective, out of my comfort zone. 

 For me the most important thing is family. It was not easy at the beginning to start a new life without them. When I met my host family, I knew we could have a good relationship, but I didn’t expect to love them as much as I do now. 

After a few months, I started to feel that I wasn’t only an employee but I was part of the family. I’m very comfortable living with them, even when the kids wake me up at 6.00 am playing the drums and say that they don’t like my cooking.

In the professional field, being an au pair has helped me to develop my teaching skills. I’m a teacher  and that’s  a  passion  that  I  learnt  from  my  mom.  I  have  been  helping  homeschool  the oldest  child, Benson.  It’s  funny  how  this was  supposed  to  help  the  family,  yet  it  has  helped myself. Teaching implies learning, and I learn everyday from him. Also, I’ve been  volunteering giving lectures in College and High School which has made me learn about the American school system.

I still have months ahead as an au pair, and I already have plenty of memories to share, as when  the  dog  ran  away,  me  and  the  kids  had  to  look  for  him  and  Logan  prayed  showing  his pureness.  I’ve  been  able  to  enrich  myself  every  single  second.  I’ve  studied  in  college,  I’ve travelled,  I’ve  practised  different  sports  and  shared  my  passion  for  soccer,  I’ve  met  amazing people, I’ve learnt to play piano and experienced the social life of Bismarck.

I encourage any au pair to accept adventures, to be open minded, extroverted and embrace the new culture that surrounds them because the personal and emotional contribution is huge. The children asked me to write who is my favorite child... it’s Cash (the dog).

Laura G.

Au Pair International

 

 

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