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  • The first thing I learned in each country was how to greet someone. For me, the first step into a community should be to greet it. My friends can tell you that if you were to walk down the street with me whether it be in Senegal, India, Argentina or any other place we happened to be I would say hello or give at least a nod to everyone I passed.

    Namaste, Namaskar, A salaam alaikum, Bonjour, Hola, Hello.

    There are so many ways to greet. The amazing thing is that no matter what language is spoken, the act of a greeting brings opportunity and a glimpse into the larger community which we live in.

    By greeting random strangers I was acknowledging that I saw them and was interested in them. Even if I didn’t know much of the local language, individual’s generally appreciated that I was trying. Sometimes individuals would be thrown off at first, then smile and dive further into a conversation with me. How can you have an immersive experience if you do not greet others? With that being said I did my best to learn about the cultural norms around greeting. I watched others interact and I asked advisers.

    So when it comes to intercultural communication and cooperation. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge people. Let individuals speak for themselves and they will let you speak for yourself. We carry with us the great burden of being a part of many things. We are more than the place we are from, the clubs we are a part of, or the friends we hang out with. These are only a piece of the puzzle that forms us. Acknowledge that this applies to all people. Say hello and learn.
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