By Angelina Burkholder | Echo
As high schools and colleges close down for the summer, thousands of students march into the fast food industry for a summer of burger flipping. While many students settle for the simplest of summer jobs, coming home with grease-soaked hair isn't everyone's cup of tea.
This summer, Katelin Swartzendruber, a junior elementary education and TESOL major, is trading a mundane summer for a trip across the ocean and a dive into vibrant culture. In Spain she will work as an au pair for a family with a four-year-old boy. Since the family already has a nanny, her sole responsibility will be teaching the child English.
"I know Spanish decently and also am licensing in TESOL, so it seemed like a great fit for me," Katelin said. "I also feel like this will be a great opportunity to really exercise my faith and reliance on God."
Au pairs, a concept originating in Europe, are foreigners who join a family for a specified amount of time, usually as highly-sought-after tutors or nannies.
As part of her student-teaching requirements, Katelin will also be traveling abroad in the fall to teach in Honduras. Au pairing in Spain this summer is just one step into a potential future of cross-cultural teaching. For Katelin, the summer abroad is another chance for her to grow spiritually and learn reliance on God.
"I'm really excited to have this time where I can focus on my relationship with God and learn more of what it means to hear his voice," Katelin said. "I also think it will be valuable living in another culture for an extended period of time like this since I would hope to be living in another country someday after I graduate."
Junior Cassandra Beck will also be traveling abroad this summer as an au pair for a Turkish family. This will be Beck's second summer working as an au pair in Istanbul, Turkey.
Cassandra will tutor and take care of a three-year-old boy as well as assist the pregnant mother in household duties. The family is paying for her flights, housing, food and vacation expenses. They are even paying Beck a $200 weekly stipend, a deal that is hard to come by in the au pair world.
"I was still skeptical until we Skyped. I loved them and realized I'd be crazy not to take the opportunity!" Cassandra said. "Since then all the details have fallen easily into place and it has been extremely clear to me that this opportunity was given to me and made possible by the Lord."
However, time abroad for Christian au pairs isn't always easy and sometimes establishing a strong Christian base to fall back on for support is impossible.
"The family I will be living with is not Christian, as Turkey is around 96 percent Muslim," Cassandra said. "I didn't expect to be led to do this again, but because I know God has orchestrated this, I am trusting him totally to provide for all my needs while I am there."
Serving for a summer as an au pair is not only an cultural adventure, but a spiritual challenge, one that Katelin and Cassandra believe is worth taking.