Participant Updates » Au Pair USA participant, Kathryn Wenborn
Kathryn Wenborn was a participant in the USA Au Pair program in 2011.
"When I decided to participate in the au pair program I hoped to gain a second family out of the experience. I spent a lot of time emailing with my first family, trying to ascertain if they were a good match for me and once I decided to accept their offer I began eagerly preparing for my departure from Australia. Upon arrival I was immediately attacked by an onslaught of homesickness which lasted a good few weeks. The literature you are given to read before you leave your home country is very true, everything around you is just 'wrong.' Even ridiculous things like traffic lights being in a different place remind you that you are living in a different country now and home is hundreds of kilometres away. If I could give any advice to new au pairs it's that the homesickness is intense, but it doesn't last. Every day it becomes more and more diminished.
My first family seemed perfect for me. The kids, parents and I all shared common interests and it seemed like a match made in heaven. However, a few months into my placement the cracks started to show and it was evident in the second half of my year with them that the match was not going to last and a rematch was imminent. At this moment I thought all my great plans to acquire a second family out of my experience were dashed and that I would be lucky to find another family with which to end my year.
My first thought when I was informed of the coming rematch was that I wanted to stay in the greater DC area. I had friends, classes and an upcoming trip to London all planned - a trip that was beginning at DC Dulles airport!!! Luckily, a couple of families wanted to interview me and so I entered the suburb of Ashburn into my GPS.
I never looked back.
I knew I had found my kind of family when the first word's out of the mom's mouth were "Hi, I'm Kim.... did you happen to see 2 kids on roller skates as you drove up??? No?? Well let's go look for my kids....." (In the rain) I definitely baulked slightly when I learned there were FOUR kids, not to mention 3 very lively dogs and a cat but I desperately wanted to finish my year as an au pair, and there was something about Kim and Jason that told me I had found my kind of people.
My experience with the Halls has taught me I should never judge a book by its cover. If I had been living in Australia and come across the Hall's application I probably would have dismissed them immediately, telling myself there was no way I could cope with 4 kids on a daily basis. Was I ever wrong.
A couple of weeks into my rematch I knew I had finally found the second family I had always wanted. Kim and Jason are quite simply the most amazing host parents an au pair could ever hope to find. They're caring and considerate and always strive to ensure that they never take advantage of their au pair. Half the time I bully them into letting me babysit so they can have a night to themselves because they are so intent on not letting me overwork. We have had so much fun together over the past nine months. They both have an amazing sense of humour and we frequently find ourselves standing in the kitchen with tears streaming down our faces, laughing hysterically at something that happened during our days. They've become my best friends, the two people who I always want to hang out with; whether it's cheering on the Washington Capitals Hockey team with Jason or getting pedicures and coffee milkshakes with Kim.
And those four children I mentioned earlier?? They have become like a mixture of my own children and my siblings. They have their moments - like all children - but they are loving, fun kids, who enjoy playing hockey and football in the cul-de-sac with the neighbours, under my watchful eye. Whether we're riding rollercoasters together at Busch Gardens Amusement Park or playing a fierce game of tag on the beach, we have had so much fun together. I feel so privileged to have watched these kids grow for a small part of their lives and I am saddened that I cannot remain with this amazing family longer, to continue to watch these gorgeous kids grow and mature. I definitely realised how much I had grown to love them when I was upset at the beginning of the school year, when the 3 older boys would be in school full time. Most au pairs were doing the happy dance that they would have their days to themselves until the following summer, and I wanted my kids to stay home with me. Even my little girl (also called Kathryn) would be in preschool 3 mornings a week; my happy days of summer vacation surrounded by 4 little voices babbling about Pokemon and princesses was at an end. I was only with the family for a month when I decided to extend for six months so I could spend more time with this wonderful family.
Basically, I am a firm believer in the au pair program. I have gained more that I ever hoped, a second family, amazing new friends, endless travel opportunities and the chance to live abroad and mature as a person. There were times that I wanted to leave but I'm so glad I stuck it out, because if I'd left I never would have become part of the incredible Hall family. A family who cannot get rid of me if they try; i'll definitely be back and I can't wait until the whole family decides to vacation in Sydney so I can welcome them into my home with the same compassion and acceptance with which they welcomed me into theirs."