Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Culture Crash - Greetings

Recently at the gym, one of my coaches and I were talking about greetings.  I mentioned to her that my sons were about 'kissed' out after three weeks here.  I then told her that I had the reverse effect when I moved back to Canada, after 5 years in Chihuahua.  I felt like no one touched me!  She then asked me how we greet in Canada.  I said that mostly we didn't (this is where the culture crash came in - it sounded so WRONG as I was explaining it).

Now I know this is a huge generalization to say for a country, but in comparison to Mexico it would be more than accurate.  I NEVER go through a day here without being kissed (husband aside), touched, hugged, or receive some such sort of affection.  I don't think I could say that about living in Steinbach.

My family is not one that greets with a kiss (although I have heard that there are families that do that - even in Steinbach).  When one goes to work, one does not greet their co-workers with a kiss on the cheek.  When one attends a gathering, a "hi" into the crowd would suffice.  At a more formal event, one might shake hands.  In Mexico, that would never pass. In fact, you don't just greet everyone upon arrival, when you leave, you cannot just say a general good bye to the group and leave.  Nope, you go around the room 'despidi√©ndote de todos' (saying goodbye to every individual).

I would add a note here: it's not like you are kissing total strangers all the time (by the way, the kiss is on the cheek).  It would be acceptable to shake hands with a person you don't know, but were being introduced to.  However, when a friend introduces their mother to you, you would probably kiss that person due to the relationship you have with your friend, although the mother is a stranger. What is clear is that you would ALWAYS greet - EVERYONE.

Another aspect that this whole thing involves is the level of importance this holds to the whole relationship.  This culture is a warm culture, a people culture, a relationship culture.  Everything one does is proportionate to the building of the relationship. I do not want to offend and therefore the greeting at the coming and going is HUGE.  The better friends the men are, the louder the slap on the back seems to be! (Just for clarification, men don't kiss!)

I know I have shared something along these lines in an earlier post, my reason for bringing it up was due to the culture crash thing.  How many things does one's own culture do that we think is 'normal' but when you try to explain it to another culture it seems weird to them?  And, at what point does is almost seem weird to you!? No, I don't think we should all start kissing each other, but I think we most certainly can learn to be more relational.  More concerned about relationships, and not be so ego-centrical. Be more worried about the 'community' than the 'I'.  

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