Every year the International Au Pair Association opens up to Au Pair of the Year nominations. This year, one of our host family’s decided to nominate their wonderful au pair. Although she did not win, we wanted to take a moment to shed some light on Nina. Here is what her host family had to say about her:
Dear IAPA Panel,
My husband and I would like to nominate Nina for the 2022 IAPA Au Pair of the Year Award. We hope your experience reading about Nina is as special as the year we experienced with her.
Nina came to Canada at the very end of July 2020 and we had the pleasure of her living with our family until July 1, 2021. Although Nina is now back in Germany we still consider her a part of our family. Our children continue to talk about her daily, they send her voicemails and FaceTime her as often as possible. I am also in contact with her almost daily and my husband makes sure to send any fun pictures he takes of all of us to her. Nina also frequently messages with my mom, Jamie’s parents and various other family members and friends. We are all excited for the day when Nina will return for a visit again.
You may ask,” How has someone who was only a part of your lives for 11 months managed to root themselves so deeply in it?” Well, let me tell you a little bit about how amazing Nina is and hopefully you will gain some understanding.
From the beginning we knew Nina was special – like many she joined us during a time when travellers had to quarantine for 14 days upon entry to the country. Nina stayed at our house for the first 11 days alone, we went camping so she could have space to herself. During this time she took care of our chickens and turkeys (we later found out she was terrified of birds), ventured around our property and kept in contact with everyone via WhatsApp. Nina proved to be very resilient; as soon as Nina finished her initial quarantine we ended up in a family quarantine as our youngest had a cold, she never let the isolation dampen her spirits. During this second quarantine with us Nina experienced her first quad trip around our property.
Thankfully after that point Nina was able to get out and explore! In the time Nina was here she drove over 45 000 km traveling around Alberta, British Columbia and even a quick trip to the border of Saskatchewan. Nina went on these excursions independently, with another local Au Pair, or with our family. Not only was Nina adventurous when it came to travel she also openly tried many other new experiences with our family including; ice and summer fishing, winter camping in the mountains, eating wild meat harvested by our family, snowmobiling, tobogganing, Northern Lights and golfing.
Nina is a creative and take charge person. Due to COVID restrictions many local activity centers for children were closed. Nina ensured she had stimulating activities for the children to do at home; they often made crafts, played in the basement or did baking. Nina would always made healthy snacks for the trip home from school. Nina ensured the girls were dressed up for school theme days such as crazy hair day or Pyjama day. Jamie and I never had to worry if the children were sick, if there was a snow day at school or if we had to work late. We knew Nina had things taken care of at home. Often the girls would run to Nina for comfort when they got hurt playing or were overwhelmed, she always knew just what they needed to make them feel better. The house was always clean and Nina would volunteer to cook supper for us a few nights a week. This allowed us to try out new cuisine as well – Schnitzel being our favourite! Nina even made very special birthday cakes for each of us throughout the year.
Nina is kind and caring. She worked hard to instil these values in our daughters and ensure their behaviour was in alignment with our expectations. Things like sharing, talking politely and manners were non-negotiable. Nina would not only correct the children but explain to them why the behaviour was not in alignment with our family values. Nina looked up different ways to correct behaviours and asked Jamie and I before trying them.
There were many tears when Nina went back to Germany, and we will forever be grateful that Nina chose to spend her gap year with our family. It was very special watching her participate in many of her “first” Canadian cultural experiences. We are so appreciative that she exposed us to some German culture to us as well; Saint Nicholas Day, Christmas Eve Raclette, Schnitzel and much more. We both hope that our daughters grow up to be independent, open minded, self-motivated, organized, kind and adventurous – just like Nina.