Before leaving Brasil, someone told me how much she liked me, that I was not like an American. This comment surprised me so much. Upon asking why this was, I was told that I was sincere. When I said something it wasn't just to be polite, I really meant it. This woman had lived in the U.S. for about three years and her experience was that American women say things insincerely. We smile at everyone indiscriminately, we ask how you are but really don't want to know the truth of the answer. We say things that are untrue so as not to hurt any ones feelings or make them angry with us, and then turn around and say the reverse to someone else. This left me with much to think about. How culturally different we all are.
When travelling to different countries I am ever more aware of the things I do. Do people think I am rude or affected, even insincere. I recently was in my seven year old's class-room and it was snack time. the teacher reminded the children that they must practice eating their snack with mouths closed and no slurping, as this is an American school. So the question is should we impose our cultural norms upon the world because they are what is comfortable for us?
About six years ago I was invited to a ladies dinner potluck, hosted by a dear Scottish lady. In my head I pictured us sitting in chairs around the lawn, a plate on our lap. I whipped up some not beautiful, but very yummy coconut oatmeal cake bars, and deviled eggs. I arrived to a beautifully set table with candles. I don't think one of my cake bars was eaten. Someone had bought a beautiful chocolate cake covered with chocolate shavings. It was all quite posh, and surprisingly formal. Isn't it funny how different our take on what the event was going to be. It was just supposed to be a bunch of us getting together for a girl's night but it was something quite culturally different.
While living in Brasil one of the customs was that when someone came to your home they must leave through the same door they entered, as being allowed in the front door and then ushered out the back meant you were not welcome. In China you always take your shoes off at the door. So many things to learn everywhere you go. Hopefully in my journeys I will be able to present myself well and also be able to embrace all that is good about others.