Washington Family Celebrates Cultural Exchange with Their Mexican Au Pair

Raising toddlers is no easy task. That’s a big part of the reason why Shefali Shukla and her husband Ajay Marar decided to welcome an au pair into their home a couple years ago. Now with two children ages four and two, their Mexican au pair, Freda, has been instrumental in helping the Marar family. Shefali lovingly refers to her as “the boss lady of this house”, helping manage the operations and schedules and bringing a lot of fun along the way too.

While childcare support has certainly been a major benefit for the Marars, au pair Freda (20) has also brought a new culture into the Marar Indian-American home—her Mexican one. Freda and her host family not only celebrate each other’s cultures inside their Washington State community, but also have loved traveling together since Freda’s arrival in the spring of 2023.

In September of 2023, both family and au pair visited Cancún, Mexico. Freda’s family, who lives a flight away in Queretaro, made the trip to Cancún to meet the Marars and visit their daughter. It was a great way for the Marar family to meet their au pair’s parents and sisters and learn about where she came from. In true cultural exchange form, the Marars cooked a delightful Indian dinner for Freda’s family and hosted them in their AirBnB. Freda’s family didn’t arrive empty handed to the cultural exchange event, bringing the Marars the best Mexican tequila they’d ever had!

Just a month later in October 2023, The Marars took another international trip with their au pair to visit extended family in India. Freda joined them there and got to celebrate Diwali in its birthplace. Freda enjoyed making Indian dishes that are part of the festival and even participated in making beautiful, powdered chalk designs to decorate for the holiday. “Freda turned out to be a natural artist. Everyone was complimenting her,” said host mom, Shefali .

As host mom Shefali embarks on a new entrepreneurial journey, she remains so grateful to Freda and the au pair experience. Hosting au pairs has allowed her family to do lots of fun things, like traveling. Shefali says she knows the future will be easier, even while starting a business, with an extra set of hands in the house.

The Marars will sadly be saying goodbye to Freda this month as her au pair program comes to an end and she returns to Mexico to study aeronautical engineering. The Marars will welcome their next au pair from Colombia. But, the strong bond between host family and au pair remains. Shefali says her children will have a tough time being away from Freda, so the family is already planning future visits to Mexico and France, where Freda will spend some time during her university studies. Freda plans to return to the U.S. to visit the Marars during her summer vacation as well.

Host mom Shefali’s advice to future host families? “Be open to the experience, like really open. There are many ways to host an au pair. You can each do your own thing. Try to make opportunities where you can be in environments outside the working environment. Working with little children is the hardest job on the planet, and the au pairs do a lot. Keep that in mind and create opportunities to bond. It will go a long way in developing good relationships.” 

Ready to host your next au pair and experience the magic of cultural exchange in your home? Apply for free with Au Pair USA!

Marisa Lonic

Marisa is a lover of all things cultural exchange. She and her family have hosted au pairs from Brazil, Germany, Colombia, Spain, and Ecuador. As a mom of four and the founder of Mama Work It, she helps working moms juggle mom life, work life, spouse life, fill in the blank life through her books, courses and coaching programs.