Melanie Inzunza - Au pairing in Hawaii

SCOTT NEUFELD/Vernon Daily Courier

Melanie Inzunza spent a year in Hawaii as an au pair. She said she blossomed while working in the island paradise.

Aloha adventure

By SCOTT NEUFELD

The Vernon Daily Courier

Melanie Inzunza’s lifelong dream was to be a teacher in Hawaii. After spending a year in the islands work­ing as an au pair, she says she’s fi­nally achieved her goal.

“I lived in a nice house on the beach,” she said. It’s just a good way to spend a year.”

For many Canadians it can be difficult to get a visa to work in the United States, but Inzunza said the Au Pair in America program is the perfect way live to and work in the country.The program is for 18 to 26 year olds who have experience working in child care. Inzunza said she took care of four teenagers which was a big responsibility but she became more independent and more confident as a result.

“The program is good if you’re 18 and you don’t know what to do and you don’t want to go to college right away,” she said. “I just kind of blossomed while I was there.”

Unlike most of the other 4,000 au pairs that are part of the program each year, Inzunza had met her host family in advance. She said she had been backpacking around Hawaii when they told her about the program and invited her to take care of their children.The host family pays for room and board as well as an allowance of $139 per week for shopping and entertainment expenses. Inzunza said she was lucky enough to be provided with her own vehicle. Some might be turned off by doing housework but Inzunza said that au pairs are different than maids and are not expected to do the cooking and cleaning for the whole family.

“This is strictly focused on child care, you’re not responsible to clean out the fridge or buy gro­ceries,” she said. “You’re just the child care per­son.”

Inzunza said she worked a maximum of 45 hours a week and spent much of her work day shuffling her charges to sporting activities and to school. In her free time she volunteered as a teacher at a local school and as part of her educational re­quirement she enrolled in Hawaiian studies cours­es at a university. However, lnzunza said the best part of the trip was spending time with the other au pairs who were in the area.

“I just kind of blossomed while I was there”  Melanie lnzunza

Once a month they planned trips together to sample the best of what Hawaii had to offer.

“What I enjoyed most was meeting with girls from all over the world,” she said. “It’s so much fun to have all these friends right away because usually when you move somewhere on your own don’t have many friends.”

Having returned from her year of working abroad last month, Inzunza is now living in Vernon and is working as one of the few Canadian ambassadors for the program. She said she hopes that more local young woman will consider the program because travelling aboard can have such a positive impact on a person’s life!

“I just achieved my goal in life of living in Hawaii,” she said. “Who knows what your life would be like after one year away?”

For more information about Au Pair in America: contact Melanie Inzunza at 542-3041 or by e-mail: melanieinzunza@hotmail.com.