Balanced Melting Pot

Not bad – for an American.

In Cultural Expectations, Culture, Questions, Traditions on April 27, 2009 at 1:50 pm

My husband, a first generation immigrant, and I were talking about a mutual friend the other day and he made the statement, “For a person who was raised in the US, she’s very polite.” I asked him what he meant and when he didn’t elaborate, I assumed he has the feeling that Haitian children who are raised here have a tendency to only follow American norms – which can be misconstrued as rude.

Right off the heels of last week’s post about greetings, I thought how this was all based on his experiences where a 2nd generation Haitian has not greeted him properly or made him feel unwelcomed in his/her presence.

I am fortunate to have had enough experiences with Americans to know that expectations/manners vary and some are what he would consider very well-mannered (as with any culture). But, I’m sure his point of reference would always be  the Haitian culture and his observations would be “So-and-so is really nice – for an American.”

This stereotype is common amongst immigrant cultures and I think children raised here can come across as indifferent or aloof in adopting American mannerisms. I think this happens because the majority of the social settings they are in do not expect you to embrace everyone when you walk into a room, refer to all older people as “aunt” or “uncle” or to show subservience when hosting friends.

What are some of the misunderstandings/criticisms of American etiquette that your culture possesses?

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