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I've got two students that are nothing like anything I've ever experienced before in the states. They are polite and consistently display manners that are so over the top that it's a different experience.


Celia and Andrew. A girl and a boy. Each is very calm and patient when they speak. Soft of voice and gentle in their mannerisms. It's not by accident. This is taught from an early age by their family. They both display what you might think of as being shy, but that's not the case. Andrew got up on stage in front of the entire school this past week and gave an impromptu speech about a charitable organization he's involved with. It was surprising, and impressive.


I'm drawn to this notion of kindness combined with confidence. One of my favorite quotes comes from an American man that I've idolized, Bill Russell. He said, "You shouldn't mistake my kindness for weakness". Given Russell's accomplishments it's more surprising how humble he was.


Andrew and Celia aren't typical for for the students here. They are certainly outliers, but they both do a good job of representing an ideal that is respected her in China. Every conversation I have with either of them ends with a slight head bow and "Thank you, Mr. David". It makes the heart swell with what's possible when it comes to showing respect. I've been working hard to show as many Chinese citizens a similar respect when I can. Stores, taxis, etc. Doing my best to represent giant white foreigners as well as I can. It's becoming habit to hand someone anything with both hands like this...



So of course being who I am I've done some research. Moira gave me a great gift this past year. It was a book that highlights several customs native to China. I also found some lists including this one with a few items I've read, some others that I haven't. I'm sure my friend Daisy will give me some feedback.


1. Do not sit on pillows or cushions.


2. Do not sit on printed words: eg. book, newspaper.


3. Do not write in red to a person as that means you are blood enemies.


4. Bad gifts: clocks and hankies.


5. Do not show the soles of your feet (both Chinese and Indians).


6. Don't point at things or people with your finger use outstretched hand.


7. On third visit to someone's home, give a basket of oranges or peaches as a gift. If the person gives some back, they like you.


8. Don't pray/bow in front of a family altar.


9. Don't touch anyone on the head.


10. Invite people to drink tea. If they refuse, invite them again, they are only being polite.


11. Don't wear white coloured hat, Chinese vest with long Chinese robe underneath.


12. Enter a shop when first opened, you get a better deal but don't browse, buy something.


13. Don't take food to someone's house; it implies they don't have enough.


PS: If you hand a business card to a Chinese (or any Asian person) you should use two hands to show your sincerity. Likewise if you receive a business card or any important document from an Asian person, you should receive it using both hands (then don't put it down immediately, take a moment to read it carefully to show your respect.



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Cool stuff. There has been a trend at Meridian that has picked up steam this year. Remember how Hunter McKim would always say thank you after a lesson? I now have at least 2-3 kids in e ery class that do the same thing. Every day! It is so nice.

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Mike Durkee
Mike Durkee
Dec 10, 2022
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Claire Skaggs did that nearly every day--even after she was in yb. It brought a smile to my face every time... but have to admit I didn't know how to take it at first.

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