Vivian O. from Brazil in Stephanie Harris’s Worcester, MA cluster:

Being a woman is not an easy thing. During the whole mankind history women have had rejected all the significance they have as a society member. As a country in development, Brazil has obtained a lot of progress regarding gender equality and women rights. However, it is still not unusual for a woman to hear people asking astonished, “Are you going to travel alone? You? A girl? By yourself?”

People say such things not just because they think traveling around the world or living abroad is a real challenge for everybody. People say that because most of them think this is not something for women. For them, living abroad is challenging for women. Of course it is a challenge for us, not because we are less capable, strong or smart than men, as many people think. It is always more challenging for us because since we were born, we live trying to break the walls that people build in front of us, just because we are women. We are always swimming alone and against the current. But guess what? We always keep swimming and arriving in our destinations without drowning.

Many years ago, people said that discovering the DNA structure wasn’t a thing woman would be capable of, but Rosalind Franklin did it. To discover the radiation and win two Nobel Prize wasn’t something for women to accomplish, but Marie Curie did it. To lead the group who built the nave code which made man get to the moon wasn’t something for women either, but Margaret Hamilton did it. Like all these examples, traveling abroad and living for two years in the United States to learn English and get a better position as a professional worker in my home country are also things that most people assume women at my age should not be doing. But guess what? Like all those women, I am getting that!

How do I know I am getting that? As an Au Pair, every day is a new opportunity to learn and challenge myself. Getting children ready to school, feeding them, driving them, learning a different route to get on time because of the traffic, finding a new product at the store, living every day with our bosses and many other things, despite all that I still have to manage all these activities speaking in a different language. The daily achievements are the ones that can prove how capable we are, and, those small victories that the Au Pair program provides us reflect how brave women are.
When I come back to my home country, after realizing everything I have gone through, all the things I have improved and changed, there are no doubts about my strength to face all the obstacles that have appeared on my way during this time. After experiencing the program, I know that many women are going to be encouraged to go abroad and try to find their own ways to be successful in wherever they want, because through my experience as an Au pair in the U.S., they are going to see representativeness and feel empowerment to believe in themselves.

To be honest, we don’t know who is going to be the next woman that is going to discover or create something or even challenge the world in a big way again like Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie or Margaret Hamilton did. However, we know that all women are extremely important to maintain the world moving towards progress. Giving women the opportunity to learn a different language and experience new cultures, letting them be motivated, believing in themselves, and proving their value through the development of their daily empowerment, the Au Pair program is helping not just me, but a lot of women to prove to all people – and also to themselves-, that they are able to do whatever they want, to make their dreams come true and be bigger than people’s expectations.