Au Pair in America – Press Release
Nation’s First Au Pair Agency Announces Au Pair of the Year Winners
Stamford, Conn.– March 16, 2016 – Au Pair in America (APIA), the nation’s first legal au pair program, announces Mathilda Ljung, an au pair on exchange from Sweden, as Au Pair of the Year. Runners up for the award are Brighit Lopez Vega, an au pair from Peru, and Janine Rhecker, an au pair from Germany. This award recognizes au pairs demonstrating exemplary commitment to cultural exchange, international learning, compassionate child care and family through participating with the J-1 Visa Au Pair Program of the U.S. Department of State. In addition to being stellar examples of these criteria, this year’s winning au pairs share another link; each helped a child with special needs.
Ljung was nominated by her host family in Fairfield, Connecticut. She earns recognition as Au Pair of the Year for embracing intercultural experiences and rising to meet unexpected challenges as a child care provider for twins, one of whom has cerebral palsy. Her host family raves about the assistance she provides, noting, “With everything going on with [our daughter], Mathilda has also won the heart of our son. [Our son] sometimes receives less attention than his sister given his easier path in life, but Mathilda always ensures [he] gets the attention and time he needs.”
Lopez Vega was nominated by her host family in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is being honored as an Au Pair of the Year Runner Up for attentive care to two children, one of whom has delayed speech. According to the family, “he has blossomed under Brighit’s care.” Vega’s commitment to cultural exchange is also notable. Her host family shares, “On Peru’s Independence Day, Brighit presented our family with Peruvian shirts, with each of our names embroidered on them, and requested we wear them to work. She organized a parade on our street and had our boys marching with the Peruvian flag to their national anthem. The kids loved it, and it was a highlight of our year.”
Rhecker was nominated by her host family in Westport, Connecticut. She is also being honored as an Au Pair of the Year Runner Up for care provided for two boys, one of whom was behind on self help skills and one with anxiety and hyperactivity. Her host parents explain that each child made measurable progress with Rhecker’s assistance, stating, “Within one month of Janine’s arrival, our four-year-old was putting on his shoes, dressing himself, clearing his plate at meals, and brushing his teeth…My seven-year-old started homework this year and was resistant to it. No problem. Janine took it upon herself to work with him and to help him develop good habits that will last a lifetime.”
APIA is an official sponsor agency of the U.S. Department of State J-1 Visa Au Pair Program. Each year, APIA accepts nominations for Au Pair of the Year contenders from host families across the U.S. To be eligible for 2015 Au Pair of the Year, the au pair being nominated must have been participating in APIA’s Au Pair Exchange Program and living with an American host family in 2015. The winner receives two round trip tickets, and each runner up receives one round trip ticket, to reconnect with her host family at a future date. All receive recognition on the Au Pair in America website.
The J-1 Visa Au Pair Program is an opportunity for young adults around the world and host families in the United States to participate in cultural exchange and international education. Host families welcome au pairs into their homes as a new addition to the family in exchange for in-home child care and cultural exchange opportunities; Au pairs provide child care in exchange for housing and some living expenses as well as a financial stipend and personal time to take college level coursework and get out and explore life in America. For a period of 1-2 years, au pairs live with their host families, working together to run a household and form a family unit.
The nation ‘s first and largest au pair program, Au Pair in America combines live-in child care and cultural exchange for a mutually rewarding and enriching experience for the entire family. Since 1986, APIA has placed more than 93,000 au pairs in 40 states. Headquartered in Stamford, CT, Au Pair in America maintains offices in 5 countries and has a network of more than 600 employees worldwide.
For more information about Au Pair in America, visit www.aupairinamerica.com.
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The nation’s first and largest au pair program, Au Pair in America combines live-in child care and cultural exchange for a mutually rewarding and enriching experience for the entire family. Au Pair in America receives applicants come from nearly 60 countries. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, Au Pair in America maintains offices in five countries with a network of more than 600 employees worldwide.