Cultural exchange takes off: foreign au pairs visit Peoria Air National Guard

International au pairs living with Peoria area host families as part of the U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program were treated to a guided tour of the Illinois Air National Guard facilities in Peoria, as well as a tour through a C-130 military cargo transport plane, on June 2, 2019. Washington resident Kim Peterson, who works as a Local Childcare Consultant with Cultural Care Au Pair, organized the event for the au pairs. Pictured are event organizer Kim Peterson (third from right) and participating au pairs (from left) Mbali (South Africa), Rewinzley (South Africa), Kristie (South Africa), Lesly (Mexico), Gladys (Colombia), Raisa (Brazil) and Karen (Brazil). 

Recently, a group of international au pairs were given the opportunity to gain firsthand exposure to life on a U.S. military base. Au pairs from South Africa, Colombia, Brazil and Mexico were able to learn about the history and customs that are unique to the military in American culture.

Currently living with host families in the Peoria area, the au pairs are young adults who spend a maximum of two years helping to care for their host family’s children as part of an immersive cultural exchange experience through Cultural Care Au Pair.

Through a guided tour of the Peoria Air National Guard Base, the au pairs were able to learn about the machines and equipment, as well as interact with the men and women from the armed forces stationed at the base. The au pairs were given the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a C130, learn about its features and the types of items it transports. They also witnessed a “Fini’ Flight”, a flight loop retiring pilots perform before they officially retire. The retirees exited the plane and were met with a barrage of water from friends, family and coworkers.

The visit was inspired by Lesley, an au pair from Mexico, whose host parents work on the base.

“My fellow au pairs and I had the opportunity to tour the base where my host parents work. It was an amazing experience and I enjoyed learning more about them and what they do,” said Lesley. “For me it is really amazing to see what is achieved by working as a team.”

The tour was organized by Kim Peterson, a Washington, IL resident who works as a Local Childcare Consultant (LCC) with Cultural Care Au Pair. As an LCC, Kim is a Cultural Care representative that lives within the community she serves. She provides both host families and au pairs with resources and support during their time together on the program, and regularly offers mentorship and activities for au pairs in the community.

“I was so excited when Erica, a host mom that works at the Air Force Base, suggested we tour the base for our monthly meeting. The military is something many Americans are proud of, so it was neat for the au pairs to be able to experience touring the C130 and hearing about the role of the Air Force,” said Peterson. “As a Local Childcare Consultant, I feel very fortunate to support host families and their au pairs throughout their time of cultural exchange. It’s fascinating to learn about au pairs and the countries and cultures they come from.”

To learn more about hosting an au pair in Peoria and surrounding areas, contact Kim Peterson at 309-838-5440 or visit culturalcare.com/kpeterson.