Ventura County Au Pair Stories: The Not-So-Happy Hiker


3 minutes


Image courtesy of Unsplash

I want to tell you a story about an au pair. This is an au pair with a very good attitude – even if she wasn’t an entirely Happy Hiker.

It was a beautiful day in the Santa Monica Mountains. The weather was stunning. And hot.

The Hike: More than Ashlee Bargained For

We all started off in high spirits. I have done this hike many times and I told my Ventura County au pairs all about how worth it this hike is because we will get to see a beautiful waterfall after the hard part of the hike. “It will be great!” I said. “You are going to love it,” I promised. “It’s so cool and beautiful, and we can find salamanders and other interesting creatures, and we can refresh ourselves by soaking our feet in the pools of water… " I said all of this because I was embracing my inner cheerleader. When I looked back this is what I saw:

Now Ashlee wouldn’t have picked this as her favorite cluster meeting of all time. In fact, even though she never said it, I think it’s fair to say she does not care for hiking much at all. But that is the point I am trying to make. She never said it at all. I looked and saw her face and asked if she was OK. All she would say was “Yes. I just need a minute.” Poor Ashlee. Not only did she “get to” hike with all of us, and not only was this particular hike maybe a little more than she imagined, but if you live in California or have paid any attention to the news lately at all you will know where this is going. There was no water in the waterfall. In fact the au pairs renamed it “The Water Fail.”

A Good Attitude: Typical of Au Pairs

And still Ashlee never complained. In fact, she never said a negative word the entire day.

I am telling you this whole story not because you need to know how a hike went for a few people a while back, but because I believe Ashlee’s attitude is pretty typical of au pairs generally. They come from all over the world to live in the U.S. and to provide child care for a family that they hope to become a part of. They come full of hopes and expectations. And guess what? Sometimes they are disappointed. Coming to a new culture is hard. There are bad days. Things do not always go as planned. There are uncomfortable surprises along the way.

But here is what I have observed in my nine years as a Local Coordinator for InterExchange Au Pair USA: They roll with it. They smile. They learn. Along the way they have amazing experiences and they come to love their host families and they make friends and in the end they get what they came for. They experience a new culture, learn how to live differently than they were raised and come to know themselves in a new way.

But here is what I have observed in my nine years as a Local Coordinator for InterExchange Au Pair USA: They roll with it. They smile. They learn. Along the way they have amazing experiences and they come to love their host families and they make friends and in the end they get what they came for. They experience a new culture, learn how to live differently than they were raised and come to know themselves in a new way.

I applaud Ashlee for her attitude that day and everyday. I applaud all of the young people who take a chance and come here to serve as au pairs.

Patty Thomas Patty Thomas

Patty is the InterExchange Au Pair USA Local Coordinator for Ventura County.

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