SARA ZINSER’s Story

THE STARS AND STRIPED DREAM

For as long as I can remember, it had always been my dream to one day live in the USA. I had watched the New York skyscrapers sparkle on TV and starlets sashaying up and down Hollywood Boulevard. I had imagined myself in an American family. I knew that home was where my heart was, so for me home was a stars and striped dream. Until one day this dream came true.

I loved all the truly American experiences I made during my Au-Pair year, like driving in golf carts and costumes from house to house on Halloween, like enjoying an amazing Thanksgiving feast (even though my host family had to whip up a non-traditional vegetarian Turkey option for me) and waking up to a personally handcrafted stocking and homemade cinnamon buns on Christmas morning. But I also loved the small things that meant having a second family; the feel of pride when your host kid won a tennis tournament or completed a swimming marathon, when he knocked on your door because he had a nightmare or hugged you without a reason, and all the more the feeling of having received the gift of two younger brothers I never had. Moreover, I was and still am so proud of having been part of a family, who shared my values of health, education and love. That tiny red-blue-and-white part in my heart will always be theirs.

And while this meant that I had learned so much more about a culture that I had always admired from afar, it all the more taught me something important about myself. I had always walked my life protected and had considered myself the ever optimist, but I had never been tested on it. Returning from my Au-Pair year, fresh tears of good-bye on my cheeks, I knew with certainty what my own mom had always told me, was true: You should not wish for something particular to happen, you should rather wish for the best outcome. Because at this moment, you will not be able to foresee what the best future might be for you. I had quarreled with my return to Germany, dreaded to leave the USA and my life there, but eventually I had come to terms with it. While friends stayed behind, continuing the American dream, I returned and by chance found myself on another international path. Through my Au-Pair experience, I had realized that I wanted nothing more than to share my adventure.

I began an internship in a German company organizing High School exchanges with the USA. And finally it all made sense. In this job, I am able not only to tell my story and to relive the many happy moments, but also to help, support and give advice. I realized now that I was happy back in that moment, watching the skyscrapers sparkle and myself wandering down Hollywood Boulevard, yet I am thoroughly happy when being able to send young people on their own path. I realized that no matter if I checked off all points on my “Au-Pair year” list, this is what needed to happen, in this moment, this feels like the right outcome.
Because now… I am able to make dreams come true.

I have two plans in mind with the money. For once, I would like to visit my best friend from my Au-Pair year, who now lives in the USA permanently. We haven’t seen each other since my departure in the beginning of 2013 and she is soon getting married. We were “community-neighbors” and she was there for me each and every day. She was my rock and I would like to be there for her during her special day (but please don’t make this information public since I want this to be a surprise if it works out!).

Secondly, I would like to donate a part to the Make-a-Wish foundation (http://wish.org/). I have started being a volunteer for the German affiliation 2 years ago and each and every day it fulfills me with a lot of joy to be able to make dreams come true for children, who need the strength and who need to keep believing in miracles. I can still remember the sparkle I saw in my eyes when I knew my personal dream of going to the US would come true and it is amazing to see it reflected in each of the children’s eyes, when MAW are able to create another miracle (right now for example I am organizing a trip for a young boy from Texas, who would like to see Neuschwanstein).

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