Here are some of the questions we hear most frequently!
We receive questions every day, mainly from interested au pairs, about our courses. They range from typical questions like "How many credits can I earn in a weekend" to more unique requests like "I want to make friends. Will these classes help?" While we have an extensive list of answers on our Common Questions page, these are a few that we hear often from host parents and local and area coordinators.
Q: What are your courses about?
A: We currently offer four different university-accredited courses for au pairs in nine different cities across the country. "Make a Difference" explores topics such as diversity in the U.S., community development and service learning, conflict resolution, and culture shock. Students also get to participate in a community service experience in their course city. "Discover Your City" dives into U.S. history, politics, holidays and rituals while comparing the US to countries from all over the world. Students will also become an expert on the history and culture of the city where the class is held. "Explore our Environment" turns students into an environmental scientist for the weekend as they explore topics such as conservation, environmental tourism, healthy habitats, water chemistry, and wilderness geocaching. "Arts and Entertainment" explores how the entertainment industry has influenced American culture and history while allowing students to experience the "creative capitals of the world." Interactive workshops and field trips provide a chance to participate in the Visual or Performing arts and encourage students to get involved in the creative process.
Q: What if an au pair's English isn't great?
A: Regardless of an au pair’s language proficiency, we incorporate visual learning tools and interactive experiences that help students better access course content and have a successful learning experience. For example, as part of our "Make a Difference" course, students attend a Conflict Resolution class...and then inadvertently walk into a conflict that we've set up for them during a game later in the day. We've found that they internalize the steps to solving a conflict MUCH better through this activity than they would just from a class!
APW staff prioritize a safe and accessible learning environment that will help students increase their language proficiency throughout the weekend. However, if you feel a more experiential learning format would best meet an au pair’s learning needs, we recommend "Explore Our Environment," which places more emphasis on field research and labs than lectures, or "Arts and Entertainment," where students can choose from a variety of hands-on workshops.
Q: What can students expect during a weekend?
A: Some au pairs may confuse APW classes with other organizations that offer "weekend getaways" or "city tours." Although our courses are held in popular destinations, the courses include a fun but intensive learning experience. The days are long in order to earn the necessary amount of hours, but they are also designed with a balance of interesting lectures and hands-on activities, community engagement, and field trips to maintain student engagement and learning.
When participating in community experiences, students aren't just out "having fun" and doing tourist-type activities--there is always a learning objective, written assignment, and educational dialogue facilitated by our qualified instructors. Leading up to and following a weekend program, student course work (i.e., written assignments) is also required to help students better engage and synthesize the course content and hands-on experiences while being accountable for their learning and growth.
Every student has a different learning style, and we've tried to create a curriculum that honors that. While some students may thrive in a lecture hall, others prefer a hands-on approach. Most au pairs aren't initially thrilled about the prospect of studying US History, but they're usually surprised by how much they enjoy this class--especially when they have a chance to actually visit a historical site they're learning about.
Q: My au pair is very close to their extension deadline. How soon after the class will students receive their completion letters?
A: We strongly recommend that au pairs take our courses early in their year, especially since many of the topics (like conflict resolution and culture shock) can be useful for newer au pairs. However, if they've put it off until the end...not to worry!
These courses will provide students with their letter on the last day of their course (provided they've attended all class hours): Arts & Entertainment in Los Angeles & New York City
Explore our Environment in Tampa
Our other courses have some post-assignments that may include response essays, research papers, service-learning experiences, and community engagement. Many of these activities can be completed within a week after their class--we've even had students write essays at night during their weekend courses and hand them in before they return home. Our program coordinators will work with au pairs to make sure they get things turned in before their deadline; just make sure students inform their program coordinator in advance.
Q: Can you bring an APW course to my city?
A: If it wasn't such a long and detailed process to launch a new location for our courses, we would love to bring APW to every major city in the US! We are not currently planning to add any new cities to our permanent lineup, however, our first regional pop-up course will be held in Hawaii, in June. Through these courses, we will be targeting areas where it is either difficult for au pairs to get to our other nine cities OR where there is a large population of au pairs without an APW course near them. We are still in the beginning stages of expanding our pop-up classes, but are excited to bring APW to other regions.