Meridian Booster

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Au pair program opens a world of opportunity

“Its just a really wicked chance to live in this fast-paced world”

Lloydminster Meridian Booster – Just out of high school and not sure what to do with your life? One born-and-raised raised Lloyd resident says she’s been in those shoes and found the answer she was looling for in a one-of-kind job.

Melanie Belshein had always dreamed of living in Hawaii. Only a few short years ago, Belsheim was fresh out at high school when she came across a program called Au Pair in America. She jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s just a really wicked chance to live in this fast-paced world” she said.

An au pair is essentially a nanny or caretaker for children and does housework in exchange for room and board. The program Belshein worked for (and is currently an ambassador for) employs young women ages 18 to 26 from around the world.

“The thing is…it’s very expensive to bring in an international nanny. so you’re usually placed in an affluent family and they live in good areas.” said Belshein, who lived on a beautiful teach in Hawaii neighbouring homes owned by actor Michele Pfeiffer and hair product designer Paul Mitchell. “You just become part of the family for the year.”

The program includes, everything from flights, room, board, and a weekly allowance to two weeks of vacation and a U.S. visa. It requires that au pairs have a clean criminal record, speak English and work 45 hours a week. Along with that, au pairs are required to take a couple of university or college courses, just so they can mingle with others.

“Instead of working at the mall for a year, go travel and take a class in something you might be interested in.” she said “You’ll meet people from all over the world and have a great time.”
Also. while guys are welcome to partake in the program, Belshein says not many do as young men often aren’t interested in becoming a nanny. But young man or women, the program, is a tremendous learning experience, Belshein says.

“It was so good for me,” she said. “I really grew up that year and became more independent and confident.” The worldwide program brings in 4000 au pairs a year to work in the US. Sixty to 200 au pair women at a time are first flown to Connecticut for training. Than they fly to New York in what Belshein calls a “welcome to America” orientation. The travelling doesn’t end there either. After training, au pairs go to live with their host families and work for the year. Many families, she says, take their au pairs on extravagant, all-expenses-paid vacations.

“Families go to the Caribbean for Christmas and so (au pairs) get to go with them and they don’t have to pay for their flight or anything.”

Belshein, now lives in Vernon, B C. She says she is always happy to chat with girls who may be interested in the Au Pair in America program and provide more information.