Though I myself have never been out of the USA, in my 50 years, I have had the honor of meeting people from other countries. They look very lost and confused. I try my best to communicate with them as the only language I know is English.

Again I pull on my job as a cashier for a grocery store. We get a lot of people from Africa in our store and I mean fairly new to this country. Many are on government aid and have trouble figuring out how to use the food stamp card they are given or WIC checks. So I have to explain, speaking clearly to them but not in a way that is condescending. I speak softly, gently. My customers behind them tend to get impatient and I call for a back up cashier while taking care of the people in front of me. Most of the time they are very stoic and will not smile. A few of the males are missing one or both hands.

As I get to know them and their children it is getting easier to communicate with them. I love to watch the younger women as they look at some of the fashion magazines, speaking in their language, pointing things out to each other. Many are dressed in the traditional clothes of their culture of long dresses and head coverings but you can still see their faces and hair.

It’s fun to watch their reactions, because they are no different than American born girls, when it comes to pretty clothes or movie and music stars. As soon as an older female shows up, they completely change and quickly put the magazine away, becoming very quiet. It’s hard to see that but at the same time I understand it. 

My point is this, it is all right to try and fit into a culture that is foreign to you, especially if you are going to be in that country for a while if not the rest of your life. Be patient with yourself, listen to those around you who KNOW the culture. And if you happen to be the one to help another to fit them patience, kindness. If they make a mistake, explain gently what it is they did wrong and show them the correct way to respond in your culture. Sweet words will pull others to you but words of anger will surely discourage them, causing anger, frustration, and misunderstandings.