Kickball League

Can you spot the au pairs?

Can you spot the au pairs?

The general purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to promote international educational and cultural exchange to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. As a non-immigrant visa type, all exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program in order to share their exchange experiences.

This wording is from the US State Department website. Sounds like your usual government-speak, right? Here’s what it looks like in reality. Can you spot the au pairs in this photo? All three provide warm and loving care to their host children and also love to tear up the kickball field on the weekends with their team.

This kind of photo makes my heart sing and I love each and every one of my au pairs. Their bravery and sense of adventure makes my job as a local coordinator so much fun!

Happy Faces at the SECU Family House

This month’s cluster meeting embraced that American value of volunteerism. After an ice storm cancellation in January, we came together on April 17th to make dinner at the SECU Family House in Chapel Hill. The Family House serves adult patients and family members of patients being treated at UNC Hospital. Volunteers make, serve and share a meal with guests of the Family House.

This weekend seemed to have lots of au pairs traveling but it worked out to have a smaller group – the kitchen couldn’t contain our full cluster! We prepared and served lasagna, pasta, salad and dessert and enjoyed working together. The best part was visiting with guests of the Family House during and after the meal. They shared some of their stories with the au pairs and then loved hearing the au pairs’ stories about their home countries and experiences here in North Carolina.

This was a joyful experience and one we hope to do again next year!

Filing Taxes for 2015

It’s true, it’s time for au pairs who earned more than $4000 in 2015 to file tax returns. InterExchange did a great job of breaking down the process into steps. Local au pairs who attended the March cluster meeting got to fill out a rough draft form and calculate their taxes together while playing board games and eating chocolate. If you missed that meeting or have returned to your home country (or maybe just need a refresher), here it is!

Remember: The information below is a general guideline. InterExchange staff and InterExchange Au Pair USA Local Coordinators are not licensed tax advisors and cannot provide official tax advice.

Step 1: Review Your Training

Watch the section on Understanding Compensation, Regulations and Taxes in our Know Before You Go online training. You can find this video under the Resources tab on Passport. Pay special attention to Lesson 6, Part 3.

Step 2: Social Security Number

Have your Social Security number ready. You will need this number to complete your forms.

Step 3: Calculate Your Earnings

You will need to calculate your earnings from January 1st – December 31st, 2015 (do not include any earnings from 2014 or 2016) and file your taxes. Using your Au Pair Schedule & Weekly Planner, add up all of the weekly stipend amounts that you earned from your host family during the calendar year 2015.

Here is an example: Anna arrived to her host family’s home in early June. She worked as an au pair for 28 weeks in 2015 and received $5,481 in weekly stipend amounts in the year 2015.

($195.75 * 28 weeks = $5,481)

Step 4: Do You Owe Money?

Do you owe money for taxes? The exemption amount for the 2015 tax year is $4,000. This is the amount of money that you can earn which is tax-free. If you made less than $4,000 in the calendar year 2015, you do not owe any money for taxes, and you do not need to file. If you made more than $4,000 in 2015, follow the additional steps below.

Step 5: Fill Out the 1040NR-EZ

Download and fill out the tax form 1040NR-EZ. You can also reference the IRS’s detailed instructions. Keep the following information in mind while filling out your form:

  • Your Identifying Number is your Social Security Number.
  • Enter the total amount you earned in 2015 on line 3, line 7, line 10 and line 12 (see this amount in Step 3).
  • You should not have any itemized deductions, so the amount entered on line 11 would be “$0.” If you believe you do have itemized deductions, please contact a tax professional.
  • Enter the 2015 exemption amount of $4,000 on line 13.
  • Subtract the exemption ($4,000) from your income reported on line 12 and put this amount on line 14. This is your taxable income.
  • Look up your taxable income amount in the tax table at the end of the instructions page and see the amount you will owe in taxes. Put this amount on line 15, line 17, line 21 and line 25. This is the amount you will pay to the IRS.
  • Remember to sign your form at the bottom. Forms are only considered valid if they are signed.
  • You must also fill out the opposite side of the form with your information (Page 2).

Step 6: Make Copies of Your Documents

Make photocopies of or scan your 1040 NR-EZ form and keep them for your records.

Step 7: Pay Your Taxes

Pay your taxes using the options provided by the IRS.

See the original post here

 

Durham Bulls Baseball Host Family Day

SAVE THE DATE!!!  InterExchange Au Pair USA Raleigh and Chapel Hill/Durham Clusters are going to the Durham Bulls Baseball game on Saturday, May 7th at 5:05pm. This is our Host Family Day and Cluster Meeting for May. The Bulls take on Norfolk as part of the Triple A Minor League International League. The Bulls are the Highest Level Minor League team of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Plan to come early to enjoying the pre-game activities, enjoy dinner at the park, and stay for the game!

Group Tickets are $9.99/person and kids 2 and under are free (as long as they don’t need their own seat). Checks can be made out to Mary Beth and mailed or money can be sent via the Cash app. Please send payment to reserve your tickets by April 1st. Tickets will be picked up at the Box Office on the day of the Game. Friends are welcome, but tickets need to be reserved and paid for by 4/1.

 

We are sitting together as a group in Section 209 along the 3rd Base Line (out of the sun). Seating Chart

 

We look forward to seeing you at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to enjoy “America’s Pastime”! Go Bulls!  Contact Mary Beth at mgrealey@lc.interexchange.org with questions or to make your reservations by 4/1.

 

Dugout Photo Credit: Hit Bull Eat Steak via photopin (license)

Batter Photo Credit: Bulls Batter via photopin (license)

Stadium Photo Credit: P1050977 via photopin (license)

Outside the DBAP Photo Credit: DBAP via photopin (license)

Bull Photo Credit: watching via photopin (license)

When Tornadoes Are Predicted

With warmer weather comes the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Today is a great time to update your phone weather apps and have a host parent/au pair talk about emergency plans. It happens rarely but tornado prediction comes quickly and it helps to be prepared. Weather prediction is usually announced by counties so please review the map below and get a good idea of where you live in relation to other counties. The forecast or alert will also describe it as either a Tornado Watch or Tornado Warning.

Tornado Watch
 - Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).

A few apps to help with prediction:

WRAL Weather Alert 

This app comes from Raleigh’s local CBS News station WRAL. It alerts you to severe weather in your immediate area by coming on and reading the alert aloud. It is great especially for thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding in case an au pair is either out with the children or at home and needs to seek shelter to stay safe. You can set up multiple locations. Android iOS

Red Cross Tornado Alert

This app comes from the Red Cross and provides warnings and preparation information. It also allows the user to set different locations (school, work, home, family). Android iOS

 

Celebrating the Holidays, American Style

Phew, we made it through Thanksgiving! Most American families celebrate Thanksgiving similarly: lots of food and family and friends, naps and more food. With December just around the corner, it’s a good time for au pairs and host families to talk about the upcoming holidays, because everyone celebrates differently. That’s one of the great things about exchange programs, everything is an opportunity for cultural exchange and December holidays especially so!

Host families and au pairs, talk about December and what everyone’s expectations are. First, talk about your different holiday traditions and how you might be able to share those with each other. Most host families have young children and are building new family traditions along the way. Adding traditions from another country to your own is a way of continuing your exchange experience throughout the years. Sometimes, host families travel abroad over the holidays and their au pair might be at home. Invite your au pair’s friend over for double the fun and exchange.

Next, talk about scheduling expectations. Some professions slow down in December during the holidays and some get even busier. Host parents and au pairs, talk about the realities of your December schedule and try to strike a balance of work, social and family fun time. As Local Coordinator, it’s my annual duty to announce at the November cluster meeting that most au pairs will be working on New Year’s Eve, aka “The Hardest Night of the Year to Find a Sitter.” For au pairs, it feels like “The Worst Night of the Year to Work.” If New Year’s Eve is a work night, talk about ways to make the night fun for everyone.

And finally, if your shared holiday traditions include presents, remember that the best presents are the ones that make us feel special and loved.

Happy December!

Photo Credit: DavidDennisPhotos.com

Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is considered the nation’s birthday and every year, it’s a big party, minus the gifts! July 4th, 1776 is the day that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the US Continental Congress. It’s a national holiday so expect to see government offices closed and fireworks for sale everywhere.

Au pairs aways ask where the fun is for the holiday. The best (and safest!) places to see fireworks locally are at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill and Durham Bulls Park in Durham. This photo is from the daytime parade in Carrboro, my personal favorite.

You will see lots of American flags waving, more so as we get closer to July 4th. Did you know that the <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>flag was not adopted until a year later, on June 14th, 1777?  ”Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” At that time, the country was made up of 13 states.

Enjoy a safe and fun holiday au pairs and host families!

History: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th

Crafts: http://www.allkidsnetwork.com/crafts/4th-of-july

Recipes: http://www.foodnetwork.com/holidays-and-parties/packages/4th-of-july.html

Au Pair Training


Many host families, at one time or another, have questions about how we at InterExchange train au pairs. Before arriving, incoming au pairs always have questions about the New York training week. The corporate blog did a great post on what goes into au pair training.

We feel our Au Pair USA Training and Orientation Program is something that sets us apart from other au pair agencies, and definitely something we suggest researching when choosing an au pair agency that you’d like to work with.

More on Au Pair Training here: http://blog.interexchange.org/au-pair-usa/2015/06/16/how-do-we-train-our-au-pairs

Strawberry Season!

It’s hot and it’s May and that means STRAWBERRIES in North Carolina!

Use this database to find your local strawberries and don’t forget our May 23rd cluster meeting at Jean’s Berry Patch!

The New York Times has yummy strawberry recipes and check out the Strawberry Jamboree at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market on May 16th.

Ask Your LC – How do I print my I-94?

Dear Local Coordinator, 

How do I print my I-94 arrival form?

Sincerely,
Just arrived from New York

Dear newly arrived au pair,

Grab your passport and visit this link: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html Follow the prompts, entering your name, birthdate, passport number and home country. Once you have retrieved your I-94, please save this as a PDF and then print it out. If you don’t have immediate access to a printer, email it to your host parents or LC to print. You will need this I-94 to apply for a Social Security card and when you apply for a NC driving license.

Love,

Your Local Coordinator