Letter: In the mood to help someone this Christmas

My name is Nikita. I moved to the valley from Hong Kong in February.

Last Saturday, when I saw a Chinese girl crying on the side of the street in Aspen, I stopped and asked her if she needed any help. After a cup of coffee and then a few more exchanges with her and her supervisor, I finally understood her whole story.

She came here through a program called Au Pair. It is a legitimate program that allows the hosting family to enjoy cheap childcare and housekeeping and in the meantime allows her to experience one year of life in a foreign country and study a foreign language. Due to some incidents, her host family decided to terminate their relationship with her after she’s been with them for only a month. Incidents that in my eyes are more due to cultural misunderstandings. For instance, they were really mad that she “allowed” the children to open their Christmas gifts laid under the tree before Christmas Day. She also cut up some nuts for the 1-year-old baby without considering he could be allergic (a thing that’s common knowledge in the U.S., but is not a real concern for parents in China). She was cleaning up the house downstairs when the baby was asleep upstairs in his crib.

These were mistakes, truly, but far from mistakes that people can not learn from and change in the future — far from mistakes that are not worth a second chance. Unfortunately, the family decided that she no longer fits their needs. In a normal situation, this would all be fine. Move on and find something else. In her situation, the special program run by Cultural Homestay International, said if she can not find a host family in the next few weeks, she’ll have to return to China. She is 27 years old, the last year she’s still able to apply for such a program. If her J1 visa got revoked in the middle of the full term (1 year), she’ll have a stain on her visa record that might not permit her another chance of ever entering United States.

So here is the deal:


You pay less than $1,300 a month for 45 hours of work per week (that’s $7 per hour).

She has three years working experience in preschool.

She’s great with crafts.

She can teach your kids Mandarin Chinese.


She has to live with you in her own room.

Her current program is supposed to run to Oct. 1, 2016, which can be extended for three, six or 12 months if required.

She’ll need clear instructions and more patience regarding how you want your kids to be cared for and your house to be cleaned.

That’s it. I’m in the mood of helping somebody this Christmas.

Nikita Mullaney