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Area Directors

apex in the Big Apple

Meet Area Director Erika Bognár

Von Gastautor Erika Bognár − 06. September 2016 remove_red_eye 2.530 Views

Do you like big cities? Do you enjoy watching opera, musicals or ballet? How about outdoor activities? Professional au pairs coming to the New York City area will be able to have it all!
Besides the most popular tourist sights such as the Empire State Building, Wall Street, World Trade Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, au pairs will enjoy food specialties from around the world, surrounded by a multicultural atmosphere. If someone feels overwhelmed by all of these, he/ she can hop on a train and visit the beaches of Long Island or Jersey, or go north and explore the Hudson River Valley.

Can you describe the special needs experience/professional experience that your professional au pairs are gaining by working in their host families?
Many of our families have children on the autism spectrum. Even though the children receive services in their schools or at home, professional au pairs have the opportunity to participate in their therapies and implement special activities in their daily routine. In one of the kid’s’ schools (Manhattan Children’s Center), professional au pairs are welcome to volunteer and learn more about the ABA method.

Professional au pairs who work in German-American families have the opportunity to volunteer in the German private schools in NYC. There, they can gain useful knowledge of bilingual education and experience the American curriculum.

What are some of the most popular educational courses that professional au pairs take in your region?
Besides many other options, the two most popular courses that au pairs have taken in this area are Travel Across America classes and English conversation.

The Borough of Manhattan Community College offers weekend classes for au pairs, in which they will learn for three weekends about a particular city, and then attend a four day trip to that area. Destinations include Montreal, Toronto, Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and the Niagara Falls. These classes provide a great opportunity to visit other cities with a group of young people with the same interest. Furthermore, au pairs can earn 30-45 hours towards their educational requirement.

Au pairs who work for a German family, often decide to take English conversational classes to improve their language skills, and learn academic English as well. These classes are great for au pairs who have time during weekdays, and haven’t made English speaking friends yet 😉

What are some fun activities you have done with your group?
I organize at least one meeting a month for my professionl au pairs. Because some au pairs extend for a second year, I try to switch up the meetings according to that; this way it won’t get boring for the senior participants. Some of the most popular meetings this year were the beach day on Coney Island, bowling, visiting a school for children with special needs and our annual host family potluck. Most of the meetings are open, and au pairs are free to bring their friends and even host families.

In the past years the three most fun meetings were when we did a maze hunt around Halloween, took a ferry ride on the East River, enjoying the amazing view of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and visited a Firehouse in Manhattan.

Describe special travel au pairs have experienced with their host families and/or friends
Some professional au pairs are able to travel with their host families, but even if that’s not the case, au pairs take advantage of their vacation, and visit places around the country.

What does special travel mean? I guess it’s up to the person in my group, there is a host family who travels to Colorado every year, and takes their professional au pair with them. She then has the opportunity to enjoy skiing or in the summer months hiking in the mountains. Another professional au pair had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Australia with his host family. These are work times for the au pairs, but they all had the chance to see and experience a new city or culture.

In their free time, professional au pairs from New York City like to go to the Niagara Falls, Boston, to the West Coast (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco). One of the most special destinations is New Orleans with its vibrant culture and musical scene.

Anything else you would like to add that makes your region special?
There are two groups in NYC, and one north of the city in Westchester. We work closely together, offering the professional au pairs the opportunity to attend a variety of meetings and make friends even outside of their close surroundings. All three area directors have previous experience with children (they were au pairs, or preschool teachers) thus being able to provide professional support to our au pairs.

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