How is this program different from a regular au pair program? Au Pairs take care of the children during scheduled hours. They help the children with their homework and assist in keeping children’s rooms and play areas clean. They prepare snacks and meals for the children, and drop them off or pick them up from school or activities. Walk and Talk participants take care of children and at the same time tutor them in conversational English. This can be done playing games, singing songs or on a "walk" when you "talk".
Your host family is screened carefully. In addition, you have the ultimate safety net … local coordinators in China you can call on anytime. All of this to ensure you have a safe, comfortable environment and that your host family is a suitable host. Receive a clear set of guidelines and expectations that are set with your host family. Through monthly meetups, make new friends during your time in China.
$350 for 6, 9 or 12 months. $569 for 3 months. $650 for 2 months (summer only).
2 months is the minimum length and 12 months is the maximum length.
Au pairs are responsible for the cost of their visa.
Each Au Pair receives an invitation letter, which is needed for an entry Visa. It is possible to receive a one-year multiple entry Visa. If you are staying less than a year, it is possible that you will receive a 90-day multiple entry Visa. If you need to renew the Visa because you’re staying longer than 90-days or you decide while you are in China to extend your Visa, you will need to travel to Hong Kong for a Visa renewal. Your flight to Hong Kong for the Visa renewal may be reimbursed by the host family. You also have the advantage of being able to spend a little time in Hong Kong!
Families are available year round.
The fee you pay to be an Au Pair /Walk & Talk participant in China
A monthly salary of at least $450 US for 25 hours of childcare and English tutoring each week. Usually 1 ½
Before your departure, you will receive a timetable with duties and working days/hours, so you know exactly the working time. The family must respect your time off. Should the family require you to work outside the usual working hours this must be agreed by both sides and any extra hours worked must be paid.
The family will pay:
If you are an au pair for longer than 3 months, you will more than make back your program fee in the first month. A 6-month au pair can pocket $2,350 after the program fee and successful completion of the program.
You can find free au pairs positions on the Internet. Over the years we have met au pairs who did that and had horrible experiences when they thought they were going into a fantastic overseas au pair job only to find out the family where they were living was not screened, families dismissed au pairs routinely without paying them, and there was no one to turn to for help and support. No one to look out for them. And because they were on their own, they were lonely. Read about them here.
At GeoVisions, the families are screened and in some cases, we have placed au pairs with that family before. We make sure you’re being paid the highest stipend possible. We provide a person in-country to help you and to be there for you. You can meet other au pairs just like you and attend social activities with other au pairs. In fact, if your placement doesn’t work out, we will move you to another family (based on circumstances).
We recommend focusing on family interviews and choosing your location based on the host family that you really “connect with.” Let the family connection guide your decision on where you will live.
Before you depart, we connect you via email, phone and Skype with your new host family. You’ll have all the details you want before you ever leave home. GeoVisions spends a great deal of time on match-making. It is the only way the program will be successful. There needs to be a “connection” between you and your host family.
But after you arrive if you’re having issues, we have a way to start the process to fix things or, change your placement, if necessary. This is extremely rare, but we’ve done this long enough to know things can come up on all sides.
Unfortunately, host families needing an au pair only have one au pair in the home at a time. So we are unable to provide a homestay for anyone except one au pair per household. If you want to apply with someone else, they would be placed with another family. We would try hard to find a host family so you would be close to one another, but we could not guarantee that. We are successful most of the time.
Some of our au pairs tell us the bond they form with their host family can last a lifetime. We know some au pairs who actually fly back a few years later for a reunion or to attend a milestone event for one of the children they cared for.
You will participate in family activities, share cultures, make friends in your new community and with other au pairs in the area.
Becoming an au pair is a serious position … and while you do get paid to travel … your main responsibilities are the children you care for. While you might consider yourself patient, fun-loving and perfect for a job like this … think about how responsible you are and your previous experience with children under your care. If you’re ready … we have incredible families who need you right away, living in amazing locations. It's an amazing cultural exchange!
You can find sites on the Internet that will encourage you to find a family for free. Some of those sites boast 2 Million registrations. How can any company screen 2 million families? Please think twice before you agree to travel thousands of miles from your family and friends and move in with a host family who are advertising that they want a young woman or a young man to move in with them. They remind us of dating sites.
If things go wrong and your host family violates your agreement with them, resolving the problems will be all up to you. And today you may not be concerned. That’s fine. But just know that any family that ducks under the radar and doesn’t want to be screened, that regularly goes beyond the terms of your contract, making you work too much, too often, on the wrong kinds of tasks will likely keep on doing it unless there is someone right there to step in and help you. Or get you out of that situation quickly and safely.
In the USA and in The Netherlands, au pairs are required to use an approved au pair agency. This government requirement is all about protecting you.
Want some real down to earth ideas? The website, AuPairMom.com is a great source. At that site they “get about one email a week from an au pair in Europe or Australia who is working without the support of an agency. She is usually being expected to work far too much, has limited to no use of a car, can’t leave the host family’s house, and/or is having her pocket money withheld for problems she does not think she caused.”
With GeoVisions, every family is screened carefully and visited in person. Many of these families have hosted au pairs before. We brag that we have a few hundred host families not millions. It’s a number we can screen and stay connected to. It’s not about the money. It’s about your safety.
Here are examples of what it’s like to be an au pair, written by our au pairs from our SeekExperiences Blog.
By being aware of some of the cultural differences you lessen the impact of culture shock and you make your life considerably easier. Here is a list of some of the more overt cultural differences of Western culture in relation to Chinese culture:
Food etiquette in China is different from other cultures. Watch what they do. You will be amazed. Slurping and reaching for food is totally acceptable as is removing food from one’s mouth and putting it on the table. Note that playing with chopsticks and making faces at the food (no matter how disgusted you might be) is not acceptable. Showing this emotion is considered a loss of face. Also note that going “dutch” is seen as unfriendly. If you offer to pay for everyone’s meal it will develop your relationship with him or her or them, even though they may not let you actually pay.
We might as well address the one thing you HAVE to get used to. People. And lots of them. If you choose to travel or go out you will be exposed to crowds. On public holidays the masses of people will become readily apparent as you shop with 1.5 billion Chinese. Don’t expect people to wait in line. There is very little sense of personal space.
If you are invited to a Chinese person’s house, which will happen, always take a gift of fruit or flowers. A pre-made basket of fruit costs about $5.00. A bag of oranges or a bunch of flowers only costs a couple of dollars.
Red flowers are good to take. White flowers are only used at funerals. Indian candy or smoked salmon as a “gift from home” always goes over really well.
Smoking is seen as a masculine activity and very few think of it as a health threat or as offensive. Often people will smoke in restaurants with little or no regard for smoking or non-smoking sections. Chinese men constantly offer cigarettes and alcohol to other men. The type of cigarettes a person smokes establishes a class system. To decline an offer of a cigarette or alcohol say gently, “Wo bu hui. Xie xie.”
Today, attitudes towards tipping are changing in China. Although the practice is not officially recognized, tips are now frequently offered to and accepted by travel guides, tour bus drivers, porters and waiters in top-class hotels and restaurants. However, tipping is still not expected in most restaurants and hotels. Consumer taxes are included in price tags on goods but big hotels and fine restaurants may include a service charge of 10% or more.
Chinese are not big on public displays of affection. You will rarely if ever see couples kissing in public. Shake hands but refrain from hugging, kissing, winking, patting or making physical contact. As a “friend,” you will find that men will hold hands with men and women will hold hands with women and walk on the street. This may be “weird” in the west, but it is a common friendly practice for young people/adults in China. You may even have a friend of the same sex try to hold your hand at some point.
In Western countries one expects to maintain eye contact when we talk with people. This is a norm we consider basic and essential. This is not the case among the Chinese. On the contrary, because of the more authoritarian nature of the Chinese society, steady eye contact is viewed as inappropriate, especially when subordinates talk with their superiors.
Chinese students are not brought up to maintain constant eye contact with their teachers. Eye contact is sometimes viewed as a gesture of challenge or defiance. When people get angry, they tend to maintain steady eye contact. Otherwise, they keep talking looking elsewhere or nonchalant. Also, try to avoid physical content and eye contact with the opposite sex.
Bowing or nodding is the common greeting; however, you may be offered a handshake. Wait for the Chinese to offer their hand first.
You are definitely welcome to invite Chinese people to your home. Expect that if you invite them that you will be required to supply everything, just the same as if you invite them to dinner in a restaurant.
Be prepared to be asked your age, or why you are not married or don’t have any children. This is not considered prying but rather friendly and expressing interest in your life.
Usually when a Chinese host offers a guest refreshments, if the guest declines, the host will ask again twice. Remember this if you entertain at your place. If someone declines they may really want something so you should really ask a couple more times. It makes it look like you are really concerned with their comfort.
The main reason I decided to take part in this program was to able to travel to China. I was really interested in the convenience of the program and how it would easily allow me the freedom to travel and explore whenever and whatever I wanted. I have discovered that this unique situation of living with a family in another country is much more than just a place to sleep and eat. It has been very fun to travel to another country and see the different tourist attractions, but staying in and spending time with the family was even more fun. We have exchanged cultural beliefs and practices and learned a lot from each other. Being able to share my culture and also learn about another country's culture has made my time abroad very fulfilling. I feel more pride for my own country, more aware of other cultures, and also less ignorant. This programs offers a very unique opportunity to be able to travel to a new country and experience another culture from a unique perspective that cannot be attained by traveling there normally. This experience has been so unique and I would not trade it for the opportunity to see any landmark or tourist attraction.
I have just spent 12 months living and working in Mianyang, Sichuan, China. Please allow me to preface this by saying that the experience has definitely improved my life- it has forced me to grow and develop, learn an appreciation for the Chinese way of life and its people/culture, and I wouldn't change a thing about what I did. I have no regrets and am grateful for what I have been through. I now have a new appreciation for the luxuries and extravagances of Australian life, and even having mentioned all of these problems, I wouldn't change anything that happened. I have grown from it, I have been encouraged (forced) to learn some Mandarin Chinese just to survive in the city, and I was lucky to get absolutely true and authentic experience.
Katie, Feb 2018