Elisa Shi - Beijing Local Coordinator
As LoPair Education’s local coordinator in Beijing, Elisa knows just how to prepare and accommodate new au pairs so they can have a safe, enjoyable, and happy stay as an au pair in China. From teaching them about Chinese culture, to introducing them to their host family, to giving them travel tips, Elisa is a multi-faceted resource for every LoPair participant in Beijing.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
What I enjoy most about my job is that I have the opportunity to know other cultures through helping au pairs from different places of the world, which is fantastic.
What makes China the perfect destination for au pair placements, in your opinion?
China is a country with 5000 years of history. With the economic development of China, there are so many things that au pairs can experience. Chinese is becoming more and more valuable throughout the world. By living in China, Au pairs can learn Chinese quickly.
How are au pairs matched to host families in LoPair Education's Au Pair China program?
First, our staff will communicate with a family member. Usually it is the mother in the family. If we think the family is a suitable family for inviting an au pair. I will visit the family in person to explain the program to the family. Then I will obtain the family profile which includes pictures, the family’s background, and so on. Then we will help the family interview candidates until they find an ideal one. When au pairs come to China, I will go to the family again to greet the au pair and help them communicate important things to start au pair life.
What is the ideal LoPair Education participant like?
An ideal participant is an open-minded easy going individual, that respects the host family’s habits, house rules, and always tries to learn from a new culture and keeps good communication with the host family. He/she has a very good sense of responsibility, is independent and considerate, he/she should love kids and enjoy playing with them.
How do you help first time participants adjust to working and living in China?
I will suggest that the family treats the au pair as a member of their own family and ask them to tell the au pair what the family’s expectations are. I help with the communication when the family doesn’t speak good English sometimes. I will also suggest that our experienced au pairs help the newcomers. After my first visit when they arrive, I also call them during the second and fourth week of the first month to make sure everything is working out.
China is so culturally different from most Western countries that participants may find difficulty coping with culture shock. What steps should participants take to help them overcome this problem?
The participant should learn a little Chinese before they come to China. When they arrived in China, Hangzhou office will give them orientation an session about culture shock. When they arrive to the family’s home, I will also give them some suggestions about how to cope with this. They can communicate with other experienced au pairs to share their experience.
What cultural activities or lessons does LoPair Education provide that help participants immerse in their host culture?
We do different kind of culture courses. For example, Taiji class, visiting Great wall, painting class, calligraphy, tea ceremonies, and so on. In my spare time, I also offer to help teach them about Chinese culture, for example I invited au pairs to my house to make Chinese Jiaozi (??) together. I am always happy to help them learn more about the local culture.
How do you ensure the safety of participants in LoPair Education placements?
We will select the families strictly before the Au pair comes. We will do follow up talks every month to make sure things are in good shape. When emergencies happen, I usually will be the first one from LoPair to receive the news and I will take actions quickly to help solve the issue.
How can LoPair Education participants make the most of their stay in China?
I think the first question should be how to be very open to a totally new culture. Some participants tend to fight hard against Chinese eating habits and the ways how Chinese people talk and behave. If you don’t try very hard to get used to a new environment and culture, it will be quite hard to make the stay enjoyable.
Of course mandarin lessons and culture activities are of great value to the participants. Besides, they have the opportunity to visit many scenic spots and experience real Chinese culture during their vacations and spare time. I will be happy to assist them in setting up schedules for their personal plans and communicating with the families if needed.
Apart from the experience of working abroad, what is the most valuable thing participants get from being an au pair in China?
I believe the most valuable thing for an au pair is the friendship with the family and the children. I often see au pairs and kids shed tears when saying goodbye to each other, friendship and love is invaluable.