WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2014

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/359840

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Page 163 of 219

verse for free, it does not compare to meeting someone face-to-face. Minor language barriers are exacerbated by poor internet connections, conflicting time zones create scheduling confusion, and internet con- nections are frequently lost. My first Skype conversation with Alba, for example, took three tries because we kept losing sound. But through that experience I learned something important about Alba — that she keeps cool when things don't go as planned. I couldn't understand everything she was saying or exactly tell what she looked like due to a grainy video dis- play, but I learned enough about her personality and energy level to feel excited about her as a good fit for my family. I clicked the "request a match" button on the au pair website and crossed my fingers that I had made the right decision. Twelve weeks later, we picked Alba up at Logan Airport. Boston was not Alba's first stop in the United States. Every au pair attends a multi-day training hosted by their particular au pair agency. This allows the au pair to adjust to the United States and receive train- ing in cultural norms, childcare tips, and safety expectations. (Alba recalls 9-1-1 being repeated all day long!) Even after this training ses- sion ends, an au pair and his or her host family are never without sup- port. Every month, local coordinators check in with families and au pairs attend group meetings. "Au pair programs are very highly regu- lated by the Department of State," says Swartz. "Every au pair agency is required to have a staff member that lives within an hour of a host family and the guidelines are strictly adhered to." But the real heart of the au pair experience centers on what happens inside the home. Because everyone is living under the same roof and families are able to schedule the au pair's 45 weekly hours of childcare in whatever fashion they need (as long as the au pair does not work more than ten hours per day and has at least one consecutive day and a half off per week), the relationship is different than that of a nanny who typically leaves when a parent arrives home. "An au pair inevitably sees you at your best and at your worst," says a mother of three in Wellesley who has hosted several au pairs. "I do feel that hav- family matters "part of your family" 162 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 4

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