Ilyssa and Ben Maisano of Mendham, New Jersey, have a very busy house.
With three kids under the age of four, Ilyssa needed another hand at home and began researching au pair agencies. Through a recommendation, the Maisano family chose InterExchange Au Pair USA.
“We’ve had nannies in the past and felt like we wanted a more personal experience for our children,” said Maisano. “We wanted someone to be part of our family, someone who would love our children and whom our children would learn to love in return, which has certainly happened for us!”
Ilyssa and Ben agreed to match with Ingrit, a 25-year-old woman from Brazil, after interviewing her over Skype.
Ingrit’s sweet and candid nature — she admitted she was emotional about leaving her family, but wanted to fulfill her dream of living in the U.S. for a short period and experiencing American culture — won the young parents over and she arrived in September last year.
The Maisanos say their children’s exposure to a different culture and language is unparalleled. Learning about Brazilian culture has been one of the highlights of having Ingrit in their home.
"I love that my children are exposed to people from different cultures. Ingrit sings to my children in Portuguese and they sing along... I also love that they are exposed to another language, I think it really helps their brain development and is fantastic for them."
“I love that my children are exposed to people from different cultures. Ingrit sings to my children in Portuguese and they sing along,” said Maisano. “I also love that they are exposed to another language, I think it really helps their brain development and is fantastic for them.”
Ingrit’s favorite part of her role as an au pair is being able to play with the kids and teach them Portuguese while they help her improve her English vocabulary. “I've been learning and laughing a lot,” she says.
The transition was an easy one for the family. With the help of their InterExchange Au Pair USA Local Coordinator, Corrie Whitty, both Ingrit and the family receive ongoing personal help and support for any issues that arise, like finding a local college for the required classes Ingrit is taking while participating in the cultural exchange program.
Eight months into the program, the Maisano kids have learned at an early age that the world is much bigger than their New Jersey home.
“Our Thanksgiving this year consisted of American and Brazilian food! It was a great combination bringing the two cultures together!” said Maisano. “We share [our cultures] with each other often and it makes for a diverse household that we think is perfect for our children.”
Ilyssa also admires Ingrit's brave leap into the unknown. Living in a new family’s house in another country and acclimating to a new culture and way of life could be very difficult, but Maisano has seen Ingrit embrace American culture and “trying something new every day. She is never afraid to say if she does or does not like it.”
For Ingrit, being an au pair has been a learning experience as well as a job.
“This is the best experience of my life. I made really good friends here that I’m sure will stay forever in my life,” said Ingrit. “I’m eternally grateful and I’ll never forget everything that my host family is doing to see me comfortable and happy here.”
Despite the cultural differences and assimilation process, Ingrit has, in such a short amount of time, become the Maisano’s sixth family member. And the young family in return has had increased their exposure to the world.
"The best thing about having an au pair is the fact that we have another member of our family. The kids are growing up with and learning from someone they love so much... Au Pair USA has been so supportive to us both along the way. We are happy, supported and so is Ingrit. That is all we can ask for!"
“The best thing about having an au pair is the fact that we have another member of our family. The kids are growing up with and learning from someone they love so much,” said Maisano. “Au Pair USA has been so supportive to us both along the way. We are happy and supported and so is Ingrit. That is all we can ask for!”
InterExchange is proud to have an experienced team that is dedicated to international cultural exchange. We come from a variety of backgrounds, but nearly every member of our New York City-based staff has extensive experience traveling, working, or living abroad.