Local News

The Do's and Don'ts of International Etiquette

Posted June 23, 1999

— People from over 150 countries will be in the Triangle for the1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Some will come from exotic places with customs that are quite different from our own. Here are a few do's and don'ts to consider:

  • Don't cross your legs. In many countries, it is insulting to show the bottom of your shoes. In some countries it is also a sign of seduction. Don't chew gum in public. Many cultures find it to be very impolite. In Singapore it is against the law. While making the "OK" symbol with your fingers means things are fine in the U.S, it is an obscene gesture in many parts of the world. You might want to hold off on this one. Don't put your hands in your pockets while talking. In Japan, it is rude to blow your nose in public. Some people might say it is kind of rude anywhere! In Bulgaria, shaking your head from side to side means yes, while a couple of nods up and down means no. Although people in the United Kingdom and Australia speak English, language can still be confusing. For example, American "cookies" are Australian "biscuits" and American "biscuits" are Australian "scones." People in Slovakia wish each other luck by holding thumbs instead of crossing their fingers. Wrinkling your nose in the Dominican Republic means you do not understand.

    The one thing you shouldnotdo is be afraid of, or shy away from, contact with any of our international guests.

    They want to learn as much about us as they can. You just might end up being the highlight of their trip! andJim Payne

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