ANTONIA PEÑA, 31, domestic worker

(Alfredo Duarte Pereira)
Friday, September 28, 2007

"I am so fortunate to work with people who like my culture and who are interested that their kids learn my traditions and language. And I am very thrilled to share them."

Antonia Peña spends the early hours of the day picking up toys, doing laundry, cleaning and cooking in a spacious Vienna home. "Sometimes I got a lot to do; other times I just wait for the kids to come back from school," she says in Spanish.

That's when the fun starts. Peña, who is from Colombia, plays games with the two little girls she takes care of and teaches them to say "hola" and "buenos días." "My bosses are very happy that their kids are learning Spanish, and that makes me so happy," she says.

Peña started working in houses when she was 19 in Colombia. Eight years ago, the family she worked for came to the United States to do diplomatic work and brought her along. Peña ended up staying and continued doing domestic work, primarily taking care of children. "I love working with kids now. It's very rewarding to see them grow and learn my culture. That makes me so proud," she says.

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