I received a Flag Day contest entry that brought tears to my eyes:  a German and Israeli au pair joined together to create a “flag” made of their combined flags.  I had to know, was this effort just one of friends doing a project together or were they conscious of their countries history and all that their flag would represent to those who had grown up with stories of the atrocities of WW II. 

I had to know!  So, I spoke with Nitzan (Israel) and Freddy (Germany) in order to question them about their flag.  Our conversation also brought tears to my eye (so sappy).  These two, intelligent, sensitive young women shared their upbringing and knowledge of the past with me.

Nitzan said that the Holocaust was part of her education-“Israelis know their history well.”  Her grandparents left Poland right before the Nazis arrived.  Her grandfather walked from Poland to Russia where he fought in the army.  He then walked across Europe, covering many countries and ultimately made it to Israel. ” He would never let me forget….”

Freddy said that this era in history is taught in schools from 7th grade up.  She had a particularly strong education in the Holocaust from her dad.  His uncle, fled the German army when he didn’t believe in their “mission,” and was ultimately shot as a deserter.  Freddy’s father did not want her to forget….

These friends met as au pairs; they became good friends, and they created their flag as a representation of not only their friendship but of a belief in the ability of nations to come together and live together in peace.

Who says cultural exchange is not a strong component of the au pair program?