I had the pleasure of speaking with Justine, Nina and Marie, French au pairs who are currently living in the U.S. with their host families.   All three young women arrived in the U.S. with pre-conceived notions of what life and the American people were all about.  Let’s see what they had to say:

Justine CassardJustine heard that Americans are stressed and rude, and of course, “the food is terrible! ” What she found, however, is that “…everyone is so nice.  I didn’t expect that!” She likes the way we “speak up,” and how it’s acceptable to “say something if you want to say it.”  “Wow!” she said, “everything in the U.S. is big; dreams are big!”

Nina RocheNina heard that Americans are loud, aggressive, and involved in wars.  After having lived here, she reports that Americans are” friendly and always smiling. ” She enjoys answering our questions about where she comes from, what’s she doing here and what she thinks about life in the U.S.  She likes that the Americans she’s met are interested in learning about her!  “I like that people want to have a conversation with me; that would not happen in France.”  Prior to coming here, Nina had heard that American children are spoiled, that they’re the “king and queen” of the family.  She’s decided, however, that this is “not a bad thing; it’s just different!”And, she added, “not all Americans eat junk food!”

Marie was nervous about coming to the States.  She’d based her ideas on what she’d seen in the movies, and she thought that all Americans have guns in their homes!  Instead she found people who “are so sweet and nice and always want to help others.” 

All three had said that they’d heard that Americans are very patriotic, and they saw the truth in this with our July 4th celebrations-so many flags flying!

What we need more of in this world is cultural exchange programs where we learn about each other while doing the stuff of everyday life.