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gold-star-2-1Congratulations to Ornela L.OrnelaAP

Our 2013 Au Pair of the Year!
 

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Ornela with her Host Family!
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Ornela with her Area Director Natalie!

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Nomination Letter from Ornela's Host Family 

Our family would like to nominate our au pair, Ornela Lola as Au Pair of the Year! Ornela joined our family in January of 2012. She came to us from Greece a very shy young lady, with kindness and curiosity in her heart.


She was coming to a new country filled with experiences she has never seen before. I am sure that she also came with a little anxiousness as our family is not the typical family unit from the outside. We have 5 year old twins, Georgia and Peter, and they have two fathers, Andreas and Keith.

Immediately upon her arrival, we could tell that she really had a desire to be an au pair. She started building a bond with our twins, teaching them new art projects, interacting and playing with them and most importantly to us, engaging them in the greek language. You see, we searched for an au pair from Greece, as we are greek and wanted to strengthen and enforce their greek language skills.

It was a very quick bond that she built with the twins, but also with us as a family. Eating together, learning and teaching new things (us teaching her about America, and the differences she needed to learn, and her teaching the twins the importance of their heritage and language). We had a few adjustments to endure, as driving was a new endeavor for Ornela. With her enthusiasm and desire to learn this was a quick accomplishment for her!.

She has taken our twins from speaking greek words to being completely bilingual! They are now fluent in greek, speaking to their great grandmother (who only speaks greek) to teachers, our priest and other elders in the church and community. To see the confidence and ability that they have is in a large part dedicated to Ornela. She works with them daily on their language skills and also in learning the greek alphabet. She has brought many of the traditions that have disappeared in the United States, back to our home and to our extended family. We can truly see the pride and love that she has for Georgia and Peter. She has talked with us about their strengths and also for her hopes for their futures. Ornela has really become a part of our family, not just an au pair.

Her parents have even commented that she left as a girl and now when they speak either by telephone or Skype, they are speaking to a young woman. She is not only helping us with our twins in assisting in developing their futures, but she has also blossomed into a confidant and outgoing woman.

Ornela has also understood the goals, manners and etiquette that we want to instill in Georgia and Peter. She works with them daily to reinforce the politeness, table manners and respectfulness that we want them to learn and practice. When we became parents we knew that we wanted to guide and mold them to be the adults we wanted them to be, while simultaneously, promoting and nurturing their individual spirits. I watch and listen to Ornela working on the same for them. I can stand in another room, without the twins or Ornela knowing and listen to their interactions. I tear up many times in hearing and seeing the children they have become, and knowing that Ornela has been a significant part of that.

It was a very terrifying thought for me to entrust my children to someone else, but I can say with whole hearted enthusiasm, we really "hit the jackpot" with Ornela. Please accept this nomination for Ornela Lola, to be Au Pair of the Year, as she has earned every acknowledgement and praise we can bestow on her!!!


Nomination Essay from Ornela

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It is hard to write about my whole year and my new family in only a letter but I will do my best!

I am young girl from Greece and you might not know it but being an Au Pair is not very common there. Everybody told me that I am crazy for even just thinking about going to America to live with a family that I don't even know. My parents were anxious, too, but when I Skyped with the Vellios family they felt much better. They had a chance to speak to Keith, Andreas and the kids and they started to feel more confident about letting there daughter go to another country all by herself because they knew that this family would take good care of me and support me during my year in a foreign country.

When we first read that I would have two host fathers, you can imagine that my parents didn't really know what to expect and how to react. But also this was not an issue anymore after we first met them on Skype. Instead they completely changed there opinion about same-sex couples and understand that this is a very normal family with parents who love there kids more than anything in the world!
But let's move on to the time when I finally arrived in the US. Although I had a very good feeling about my host family, I was scared and shy and I didn't really know what to do with myself on the first days so I just tried to hide in my room but Andreas and Keith didn't let me! They sent the kids to me to bring me out, even for dinner time I didn't know whether I am supposed to join them or not. But Georgia and Peter came into my room, grabbed my hand and dragged me to the dining room.

Georgia and Peter helped me a lot in the beginning. They accepted me immediately and I just fell in love with them. They are wonderful, kind, warm-hearted kids! They made me feel so happy that I didn't feel homesick or lonely at all! I love to spend my time with them and to see them grow up every single day. What I really enjoy here are the little moments with the kids. Other people might think that this is just an ordinary day and they may be right, but for me it is also a moment where I realize how happy I am right now. So one day for example, we went to a city center with a small lake. We like to go there because the walk around the lake is really nice! We were racing, learning Greek letters, drinking juice and then we sat on a giant rock close to the water. It was quiet and nice and Georgia and Peter took a stick in their hands and pretended that they were fishing. It was that moment when I thought that this is a perfect day. And then I realized that the kids thought the same because Peter said he wished we could stay there forever.

Another special thing for me is bedtime, everytime I put them to bed, Peter asks for two hugs and Georgia is hiding under the blanket and when I finally “find” her she gets out of the blanket and asks with big surprise, how I could find her. It makes me laugh every time! When they finally lie down I usually sing them a Greek lullaby and they fall asleep :-)

This year was an amazing experience for me! My family grew and I feel like I now have parents in Greece and in America and even my two families got to know each other. Keith and Andreas and my parents talk on Skype (they are working together on finding me a boyfriend, even though I'm scared for them to…). Andreas's parents even went to Athens twice and met my family. So my two families feel like they are connected and became a gigantic Greek-American family now. All this made me decide to stay an other year, even though in the beginning I kept telling my self I would just stay for one year.

I love Georgia, Peter, Keith and Andreas so much and want to thank them for everything they did for me! I can not imagine a better host family!


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