Carnahan praises au pair program and reminisces about own study abroad experience

On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO) praised the Department of State’s Au Pair Program on Friday in a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives. Carnahan noted that the Au Pair Program not only broadens “global understanding through a sharing of culture, language, and religion,” but also provides au pairs with the opportunity to be “active contributing members of their American community.”

Carnahan also said that he himself is a proud alumnus of a study abroad program (with the American Institute for Foreign Study), an experience that changed his life: “I can personally attest to the unique educational opportunity living outside your native country provides a young student. For me, it was a life changing experience, helping expand my horizons and alter my way of thinking.”

Rep. Carnahan's full statement from June 3 is as follows:

"Mr. Speaker, on June 9th, the Department of State will hold a reception celebrating the 25th anniversary of the au pair program. Host families, au pairs from Germany, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, France, Sweden and Mexico, along with other countries, and federal officials from the Department of State, will participate in this event recognizing the strength and longevity of this cultural exchange program.

The first au pairs arrived in New York City in June of 1986. Since that time, the program has witnessed dramatic growth, thanks in part to the leadership and vision of one of the first authorized sponsors, Au Pair in America, a division of the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), located in Stamford, Connecticut. AIFS helped establish a regulatory framework that has allowed more than 87,000 young people to live with and care for the children of American families during a mutually rewarding one- or two-year experience.

This exchange experience has profoundly changed the lives of au pairs, the young children they care for and their host families through their daily exchange of ideas and broadening their global understanding through a sharing of culture, language, and religion. Furthermore, au pairs have been active contributing members of their American community where they live through their engagement in community and religious activities, giving of their time and talents to charitable organizations and volunteering their time to teach young children in schools about their native country.

As a proud alumni of one of AIFS's study abroad programs, I can personally attest to the unique educational opportunity living outside your native country provides a young student. For me, it was a life changing experience, helping expand my horizons and alter my way of thinking.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my voice in commending all those who have worked to develop and expand the au pair program over the past 25 years."