Global Awareness Handbook – A Road Map for Community Counselors

As a sponsor of an Exchange Visitor Program (EVP), Department of State (DOS) entrusts Au Pair in America (APIA) with the implementation of a cultural component to the exchange program. In the document entitled, “Building Cross-Cultural Components into the Exchange Visitor Program, DOS, states that cultural exchange programs “…provide unlimited opportunity for exchange visitors and Americans to engage with each other, to inform exchange visitors thinking about the US…, to break down prejudices and misunderstandings, and in the long-term expand and strengthen the relationship between Americans and the rest of the world.”

An integral part of the community counselor’s (CC) job is to infuse the cluster (host families and au pairs) with opportunities for intercultural activities and discussions in order to share, learn, and appreciate our similarities as well as differences. Cultural exchange is an avenue to expose our children, ourselves, host families and au pairs to a bigger world-a world in which people speak different languages and participate in different traditions. Cultural exchange sparks and develops an interest in people who may not look the same, certainly don’t speak the same, but in so many ways are similar. APIA is committed to supporting successful cultural exchanges for all its participants.

What is Global Awareness

The aim of Global Awareness is to help CCs weave cultural exchange opportunities and learning throughout all facets of the au pair program and not see it as simply a stand alone school presentation. Global Awareness is a concept, not a program. It’s intrinsic and the basis of the au pair program and should be seen as such. Our goal is not to add to the CC workload, but rather, provide tools to enhance the fact that global awareness is inherent to our daily tasks as counselors.

One component of Global Awareness is a unique volunteer program sponsored by Au Pair in America (APIA) and designed to foster a greater knowledge of the diversity and variety of cultures the world has to offer. Global Awareness brings expanded educational and cultural opportunities to the forefront for all APIA participants. With ongoing opportunities to not only “meet our global neighbor” but also to build “cross-cultural bridges,” the aim is to encourage better understanding of other cultures, improve communication between cultures, and support the concept of mutual acceptance.

Especially important is the formation of positive first impressions of people from other cultures in young children. The main goal of Global Awareness is to emphasize that cultural diversity is a source of enrichment rather than a source of confusion and strife. This goal will be achieved through the use of the Global Awareness website, presentations done in schools (PK-6), special activities and contests along with the involvement of host families, au pairs, and community counselors.

How to introduce Global Awareness in your cluster

Since Global Awareness is intrinsic to the au pair program there are many opportunities to introduce it to your cluster.

Host Family Interview , Orientation, and New Match Assessment

Use the Host Family interview as an opportunity to emphasize that this is first and foremost a cultural exchange program and second, a child-care solution. The family needs to be aware that most of these young women do not aspire to be child-care providers for the rest of their lives, but rather see the au pair program as a way to experience a new culture. Use the “What is Global Awareness” form that families received in their Welcome Packet to review the mission.

The Host Family Orientation includes a slide about global awareness. Take this time to reiterate what you had said during the interview but then also mention the opportunities for the AP to go out into the public to share her culture and for their family to gain as much as possible from this cultural exchange.

The New Match Assessment will be another occasion where you’ll be able to go over both AP and HF opportunities to share their culture and talk about the incentives. A suggestion would be to bring age appropriate samples of materials as well as the GA letter for the HF. The AP will have received her letter during orientation but she may not have had a chance to really look into global awareness.As always, you’ll want to encourage the AP to reach out to us for additional info and guidance.

Cluster Meetings

Cluster Meetings are the easiest way to incorporate global awareness into your role as CC. It is also a great place to identify au pairs who would make good ambassadors. Try some of these “culture-sharing” activities and encourage au pairs to use these as a possible Global Awareness presentation in the community.

HF Workshops

Host Family workshops are an excellent opportunity to emphasize the cultural exchange aspect of our program. Below are some ideas:

  • Food culture – what do kids eat around the world

    Introduce host families to different customs about food and snack . APs can bring food, do a slide show, make a presentation board with what is typically served to children in their countries. Do they eat at school, do they bring their lunches, and what type of snacks are offered to them? This could be an eye opener for many American host families who expect their APs to know what to do with a jar of peanut butter and jelly or the host family who gets appalled when the au pair serves a slice of bread and a piece of chocolate for snack.

The Global Awareness School Program

The overall benefit of a Global Awareness school presentation is to provide the participating population with expanded educational and cultural opportunities that encourage understanding of other cultures, improve communication between cultures, and support the concept of mutual acceptance.

  • Benefit participating au pairs with a recognition/incentive program that would reward them for their “ambassador” work in the community. Participation enhances public speaking and teaching skills. Au pairs receive a certificate as well as a gift card if they provide a photo and short write up.

  • Benefit community counselors through increased exposure in the community, with a goal to increase cluster size.

  • Benefit the participating communities with programs provided by well-screened young adults who will support existing curriculum and/or provide exciting, interactive educational programs that will increase knowledge of “global neighbors” and “build cross-cultural bridges.”

  • Benefit Au Pair in America by maximizing exposure and name recognition in the participating communities. Global Awareness will be an on-going “soft” marketing tool that showcases Au Pair in America au pairs and community counselors in their communities.

  • Benefit Au Pair in America by positioning them as a proactive company dedicated to cross cultural education with a continuing emphasis on the education of children through contact with au pairs.

Au Pair Presentations

Au pairs make the perfect ambassadors for Global Awareness. Through them, children, host families, and the communities in which they live can get a taste of another culture without leaving their home. The goal is to broaden other people’s horizon by sharing a bit of cultural diversity. While explaining their customs and traditions, au pairs teach a community to appreciate and not be afraid of differences.

Two kinds of presentations:

  • Through UCLA, an au pair is asked to make a presentation in order to complete the curriculum and get all 6 credits. For this, an au pair will receive instructions from the education and compliance manager at APIA once she signs up for the UCLA-APIA Advantage course.

  • An au pair may come to you and ask you about doing a presentation or you may have identified an au pair in your cluster that would be a great Global Awareness ambassador. Always direct her to the global awareness website or encourage her to email us at globalawareness@aifs.com. We want her to bring GA material to her presentation to leave behind and we want to be able to share her story on our blog.

Resources available to au pairs for their presentations:

These can be found on Field Point in the Document Library under Global Awareness

  • Global Awareness website at www.globalawareness.com

  • Global Awareness coordinators at globalawareness@aifs.com

  • The How-to flyer will list the steps to get her started, who to contact and what to ask for

  • Ideas for presentations will list some suggestions for topics to share and present so that anyone

  • Letters to teachers

  • Leave behind material for distribution to groups

  • Thank you letters to parents

Benefits of Presenting:

  • Receives the benefit of practicing public speaking about a topic that she is already very familiar with.

  • Once the presentation is done the au pair will receive a certificate of Recognition.If she sends us a photo and a brief description about her presentation read “Press Article Outline” document here, she will also receive a $25 gift card.

Global Awareness & the Media

Since Global Awareness is woven into all aspects of the au pair program, it also provides a great opportunity for publicity.

Community Counselors

Take photos at your cluster meetings, HF workshops, etc and don’t be shy to share those on your cluster blogs but also send them to Au Pair in America for possible posting on the company’s blog, global awareness website and possible blog post on the DOS website. A short write up with the following information would be even better: Event name, date, location, purpose of event. Any other information that would be of interest.

Au Pairs

Receive the benefit of practicing public speaking about a topic that they are already very familiar with. This should require minimal preparation for them since Au Pair in America will provide all the materials. We ask that the Au Pairs send us a photo and the following information read “Press Article Outline” document here. In return au pairs will receive a gift card and a certificate.

Global Awareness Resources

The main sources of information are the global awareness website and folder on document library.

Check out the website at www.globalawareness.com. You’ll find:

  • Past presentations

  • Contests (see the calendar link below for descriptions and dates)

    – International Women’s Day
    Earth Day
    – Flag Day
    – International Peace Day
    – International Education Week
    – Holidays around the World

  • Programs:
    like J-Day- celebrated on the first Monday in August , J- Day is a nationwide celebration of the power of international exchange. Under the slogan “Eat. Play. Give.”, J Day brings international exchange participants together with their host communities to share cultural diversity and American customs while having fun with games, food, and meaningful volunteer activities. J- Day is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) and spread the word about the power and breadth of cultural exchange.

  • Cultural Exchange Stories
    There are great stories to point out to your HFs. Perhaps include them in your newsletter to the HFs, or pull up during orientation.

Contests Calendar

Fieldpoint Documents Library

Resources to be used for Cluster meetings, HF workshops, etc.

Intercultural Webinars for CCs (and for HFs)

In addition to the new CC webinar, there will be several intercultural webinars offered throughout the year.

AP webinars

Global Awareness webinars will be offered for the Au Pairs throughout the year.

E-Newsletters and other webinars like Au Courant, Herald, The Chat, etc.

“Thank you to Gail Tomanelli, former CC and GA Representative, for providing most of the content of this Global Awareness CC Handbook based on her many years leading this program.”