Regarding "Hello, Nanny; Recently Arrived Au Pairs Get a Crash Course on America's House Rules" [Style, Oct. 16], I can't say that what Tamara Jones wrote is untrue, but she was very negative about everything.
I came to the United States from Brazil 19 months ago, and I am having a great time. My host family has three amazing kids. Because I have some friends who have had to change families, I can also see the other side. Coming to live in a different country and leaving our families and friends is never easy. But the majority of the girls have good intentions and good personal goals, such as improving their English.
Matching girls with families is very important. Before we get here, we talk and exchange e-mails with families, but we never know if it is going to work. A bad mix doesn't mean the family is bad or the au pair is not nice.
-- Adriana Pereira
As a community counselor and regional representative for Au Pair in America -- not Au Pairs in America, as the Oct. 16 article stated -- I read the story with great sadness. Reporter Tamara Jones spent two days with me as I conducted host-family interviews so that she could see the au pair program in action. She also attended, at our invitation, the Northern Virginia Annual Host Family/Au Pair Picnic -- with more than 500 host families and au pairs in attendance.
None of what Jones experienced with me was in her article. In the meetings and events she participated in she saw diligent, happy, strong young women and caring and welcoming host families.
I could not have spent the past eight years of my life working for the program that was featured in your article. I have met hundreds and hundreds of amazing young women who come here to be au pairs, and I have been fortunate to have host families who truly understand the spirit of this program.
-- Diane A. Wallace
As a host mom to an au pair from South Africa, I was rather unimpressed by Tamara Jones's attempts at humor by making fun of the au pairs, the program orientation and seemingly the entire au pair system.
These young women are far away from home for the first time and are living with new families with new responsibilities. The transition will be challenging for most, as anyone who has been involved in the Peace Corps, international exchanges or study-abroad programs will attest.
Host-family members also face the challenges of having a new young person living in their home, trying to be supportive of the transition, and facing language and cultural differences, as well as their concerns that their children are well looked after. It says something pretty amazing about the program that it has been so successful for so many years.
Many young European women see being an au pair as a rite of passage in a long-standing tradition. It also allows women from non-European countries the opportunity to work in the United States, something that may be difficult without such a program.
And it gives families like ours the ability to have high-quality, in-home, one-on-one, flexible child care at a cost we can afford, with added cross-cultural and language benefits for our son. Our au pair is part of our family, with a close bond with our son that we cherish.
-- Siobhan Green