Camila Herrán Castañeda will leave bits of her culture, language and childhood upbringing behind when she departs from her year as an au pair outside of Washington, D.C.
Four-year-old Kaia speaks fluent Spanish and regularly requests the songs, games and activities that Camila has taught her over the past 10 months.
“We are a perfect match,” Camila says about Kaia, who she has she has taken care of since arriving from Bogota, Colombia. “I have a great time with her and now she speaks perfect Spanish. She is always asking for the Colombian songs and food that I’ve shared with her.”
Working for a bank in Bogota before learning about the au pair program, Camila said she was drawn to the opportunity to travel and improve her English-speaking skills. As the eldest of four children, she also had first-hand experience in assisting with child-rearing.
“Everything about being an au pair is wonderful, for example, learning a new language and culture, interacting with kids, studying in the United States, traveling and living with a host family. Even the bad situations have made me more mature, responsible and independent,” she says.
Now Camila is preparing to say goodbye. The self-reliance and responsibility she has learned, combined with her improved English-language skills, have inspired her to apply to graduate schools for her MBA. No matter where she ends up next, Camila said she intends to stay in close contact with her host family.
“I can tell you that I have two homes; one in Colombia and one in the United States,” she said.
“It’s hard to think about the moment when I will say goodbye, but I believe it will be a ‘see you later alligator’ instead.”