Latinas are enrolling in exchange programs to take care of children, earn money and improve their language skills.
Nannies Abroad: An Option For Young Women Wanting To Experience Other Cultures
Taking care of children can be an inspiring job emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. Especially if it involves working in other cultures.
There are many exchange programs that let young women to work abroad as a nanny, and it’s an option many Latin American women do choose. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs continue to be a viable option for many.
The programs require young women aged between 18 and 26 years, who have an intermediate grasp of the English language and know how to drive.
Most people looking to hire such nannies are families from America, Europe, and Australia. (In the U.S., for example, there are an estimated 16,000 to 18,000 au pairs working, according to a variety of published reports.) Families host such helpers for the duration of the program. The agencies behind these programs put certain regulations that candidates have to comply with: they have to be industrious, wish to earn money and care for young children.
“In 2018, I stumbled to the webpage aupairworld.com, which is dedicated to put nannies in all countries in the world,” said Abigail Ramírez, a 24 years-old native of Guanajuato, Mexico who is working in Vancouver, Canada. “For example, being a Mexican, I wish to go to Germany, France, or England. You just have to fill out an application as a babysitter which will be matched with an application submitted by a family in the target country.”
Despite the agency’s help, it is not without risks.
“The program itself is free. However, it has certain advantages and disadvantages because, as you are not paying for a middleman that checks both sides of the equation, you have the risk not being hired by a real family,” said Ramírez, who preferred not to give details about the family with which she works. “Yet, as technology keeps improving, it is easier to make contact with the family before traveling there, as you can have video calls with them, check their social media, investigate who they are, and even look up for their house on Google Maps.”
Many girls get encouraged to travel abroad as to improve the skills they received as students. They take the opportunity to practice their languages, to get to know other countries and earn money while doing useful activities.
Certain programs have the advantage of providing lodging, food, weekly payments and transportation.
In general, the experiences are positive — but there may also be challenges.
“I have been a babysitter for three children here in Baltimore for about two years,” said Laura Valverde, a 34 year-old native of Mexico City. “They have been good years, although I did have a bad experience with the previous family, that treated me with discriminatory airs for being Mexican. I live with my family in our rented house and arrive incredibly early to work. On weekends, if they require me to stay and take care of the children, I stay to sleep in their guest room.”
A nanny is not necessarily a part of a cultural exchange program unless an agency supports them. As part of an agency, they receive a minimum wage for their service. The agencies monitor the nannies and relocate them as needed.
Foreign families solicit babysitters from other countries through programs such as AuPair due to the reliability of the agency. Such workers can be a massive help to parents, as they can dedicate themselves to their jobs and their married life without major inconvenience.
“The pay they give me is obviously good compared to a salary I would get in Mexico,” said Valverde. “There are its issues, obviously, but my English is getting better and better. I would say that this has helped me grow in all regards, even spiritually.”
When a family decides to hire a foreign nanny, one of the biggest hurdles they face is the issuing of corresponding visas. The nannies’ agencies obtain permits that allow the girls to leave their countries as students who learn languages and work at the same time.
“I want to clarify that I have a tourist visa; I have to leave the country every six months and then come back,” said Valverde.
The agencies supervise the nannies, to assure they do not fall victim to any mistreatment, since the nannies are young women from anywhere in the world — although predominately from Latin America.
(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez. Edited by Matthew B. Hall)