Joanna T. from Poland is in Stephanie Bias’s New Jersey cluster and shares her reflections for International Women’s Day.

“City of stars. Are you shining just for me?” Lyrics of the song from La la Land. The plot is about two people, who had their biggest dreams. My “City of Stars” is New York City. One hour by train from my town Chatham, where I live with my host family. My name is Joanna and I have been here 6 months already. When I was a teenager I had a big dream to come to United States. Every movie or every picture I saw – I imagined in my head that I was walking through Central Park or Brooklyn Bridge. I never heard about the au pair program. Dream was just a dream. I was shy and insecure.


I was always good at English because I loved it so much. Now when I look at the sunset through the blocks every Sunday after my photography classes, I know that everything has changed. My life is different from that moment that I decided to be an au pair, while most of my classmates were saying that I wouldn’t make it. But I did. I showed them and I showed myself that impossibility doesn’t exist in my vocabulary anymore. Program Au Pair gave me a lot of more that I could imagine. I became more independent and confident. After one month here I had my first trip to Philadelphia all alone. I went to volunteer at a convention where I could see my favorite actors. I got lost there because my phone wasn’t working and I felt really lonely. Now after 6 months I know that I am able to travel by myself. I’ve already seen 7 states, Canada and Mexico.

Living with the host family made me stronger. Why? I live with my employer and kids. Is that an easy thing? Somebody would say yes. However I would say “yes” and “no”. I became part of a family so easily and I really like them. In normal work I can just go home after I am done. Here it is an actual home. It is a really good thing actually because I can feel the cultural experience. I can say that I became more patient, tolerant, and fluent. When I take care of my kids, they correct my pronunciation. They are different than kids I used to take care of in Poland. Sometimes I have to be strict and accept that they do things differently. Last but not least, I can say that for me it is not only about the kids and being in the place I have ever dreamt. For me it is also a journey to work on myself and to find a way for the future.