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Changing American Society Creates a Demand for Chinese Au Pairs

Feb 10, 2008
The concept of an au pair is not new. A young woman or occasionally a young man comes to stay in this country offering childcare services in return for room and board and a small weekly stipend. The au pair gets a host family and the opportunity to attend classes at an American college or University while the family gets a flexible, live-in childcare provider. Both parties get the benefit of rich cultural exchange.

In the beginning most au pairs in this country were from Western Europe however lately, there has been an unexpected spike in demand for au pairs who speak Mandarin.

The Growing Influence of Chinese Culture:

Parents quote a number of reasons for looking for candidates from China. Part of the increasing interest is the number of children, particularly girls, adopted from China. China's one-child policy and a cultural preference for baby boys have led to thousands of children with nowhere to go. As these stories made their way into American newspapers, families reached out to help these orphans.

Other parents feel that growing Chinese influence around the globe will make Mandarin the lingua franca of the next generation. They expect that the cultural exposure will give their children an advantage in social and business dealings in the future.

Au Pair Agencies Struggle to Meet Demand:

One agency went twenty years without a single request for a Chinese candidate; within the next two years they had over 1400 requests. Agencies were unprepared for such a sudden spike since their efforts had traditionally been focused in Europe and they had no contacts in China.

Many agencies are aggressively recruiting in China trying to keep up with demand but it is hard. China's new rules on cultural exchange visas are helping these agencies, but they are having trouble finding Chinese women who want to come to this country on an au pair visa.

The progressive climate in China has created a bias against childcare work among its citizens. Young women there have opportunities their mothers wouldn't have even dreamed of so they are resistant to move into domestic fields, even as an opportunity to attend college.

The System Slowly Adjusts"

As visa regulations have relaxed in China, they have become more restricted in the US. Recent years have seen substantial changes in State Department policies which have made it harder for foreign-born citizens to immigrate to this country.

This change is encouraging Chinese women to consider the advantages of an au pair relationship. The educational opportunities and chance to experience Western culture are slowly bringing more applicants to the program. However demand is still high and many families experience long waits to find the right candidate.

Is this phenomenon simply the latest American fad, destined to be replaced by a sudden interest in some other country? Or does it reflect the new reality of China's place in the world? No one ia certain, but au pair agencies are prepared to adjust.
About the Author
Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on Au Pair or becoming an Au Pair, visit http://www.euraupair.com
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