Today I was interviewed by a journalist who is writing an article for a parenting magazine about the au pair hosting experience. One area she was very interested in was the idea of Au Pairs as a cultural exchange experience for the host kids. She wanted to know:
How much of the host family experience is about learning about another culture through your au pair?
Maybe I can’t see it any more, but for me the whole idea of “culture” has disappeared under the personalities and life histories of each of our au pairs. For example, I’m not sure I learned as much about South African culture as I learned about Krishnie, Anusha, Elrina, Collette and Lisel as individuals.
The times I see “culture” differences the most are around favorite foods and recipies, holiday traditions (e.g., Santa Lucia with Clara from Sweden), and fairy tales. I see a lot of similarity around Mc Donalds, Disney, and Coke…
Often, culture comes up when I bring it up, by asking things like “Do women in your part of South Africa celebrate a coming of age/sweet sixteen/quincenera? Or, culture comes up when I’m trying to unfold a conversation about some kind of miscommunication, when I ask things like “Am I being too direct and American?” “Does communicating with emails feel okay for you?”
When does “culture” come up for you?