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Multicultural Manners

CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 25, 1995 | NORINE DRESSER, Norine Dresser is a folklorist and author of "I Felt Like I Was From Another Planet," (Addison Wesley). Tell her your experiences c/o Voices
Janet's grandmother is an elderly Chinese lady from Vietnam who holds on to tradition. On the eve of the Chinese New Year, all the relatives come over for dinner. The children play games and are given red envelopes with money inside by the married adults. The next day, Janet wants to do something nice and sweeps the floor. Grandmother becomes so infuriated she ignores Janet for the whole day. What went wrong?
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 13, 1995 | NORINE DRESSER
Melanie attends a New York college and rooms with Heng, a Chinese girl from Malaysia. When Melanie returns from the library one day at exam time, she opens the refrigerator to get a soft drink and notices a glass of cloudy water. "Ooh, Heng," she says. "You have moldy water in here." Embarrassed, Heng says nothing. What did it mean? The glass contained water mixed with ashes from a burnt hoo, a piece of paper containing characters written by priests at a Malaysian temple of Kuan Yin, a Chinese goddess of mercy.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 9, 1995 | NORINE DRESSER
Each workday morning, several moms on the block drop off their toddlers with their Colombian baby-sitter, who takes excellent care of the children. One afternoon, the sitter's 13-year-old son, Ernesto, accompanies her as she walks the children back to their homes. When they arrive at Isa's house, her father, Fred, greets them. It is the first time he has met Ernesto. In halting English Ernesto says, "Your daughter is very beautiful." Fred thanks him. Ernesto replies, " No molesta ."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 26, 1994 | NORINE DRESSER
Amy, an ethnomusicologist, is excited about attending a Hmong New Year's celebration. Part of the ritual for these Laotian natives consists of a feast where everyone contributes food. Amy sets down her corn pudding next to dishes of rice, chicken and pork. At the end of the evening, Amy is mortified to discover that while all the other platters of food are empty, hers is still full. Not one of the nearly 1,000 people at the event even tasted her offering. What went wrong?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 12, 1994 | NORINE DRESSER, Norine Dresser is a folklorist and author of "I Felt Like I Was From Another Planet," (Addison Wesley). Tell her your experiences c/o Voices
Evans is an elderly man who treasures his privacy and quiet. To his dismay, the house next door has just been purchased by the Vargas family, who he considers too big and too friendly. One night, Evans is beside himself over the commotion going on next door. A large group has gathered in the Vargas' back yard, laughing and singing. Suddenly, a small hard object comes hurling through the air, slamming against Evans' kitchen window. Livid, Evans confronts his neighbors. What went wrong?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 5, 1994
We love the Voices page with views of people from every walk of life. But the Nov. 14 Multicultural Manners, "Shoeless Salesman Lands on His Feet," about not jumping to conclusions about everyone whose ancestors came from a certain continental area like Asia, really struck me. What everyone should rely on is their own sense of fairness, consideration of others' feelings and compassion for the situation of others--in short, plain good manners, not...
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 28, 1994 | NORINE DRESSER
American-born Lucy and her new Ethiopian husband, Eskinder, have been invited to a celebration dinner given by Ethiopian friends of the groom living in the States. Lucy is well-acquainted with Ethiopian foods. She knows how to eat with her fingers and use the bread, injeri, to pick up the food. However, she is unprepared when Isaac, the host she has just met, tears off a piece of bread, scoops up some stew, tastes it, then comes over and thrusts some into her mouth.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 14, 1994 | NORINE DRESSER
Diana Wong, a Chinese American, and her husband, Paul, born in Hong Kong, have three children. One afternoon, insurance salesman Mark Roberts arrives at their home to discuss the children's college fund. As he approaches the front door, he sees several pairs of tennis shoes on the porch. Being sensitive to cultural differences, he removes his shoes. Once inside, he notices that Diana Wong is wearing running shoes while he is in his socks. Roberts is confused as is Diana Wong. What went wrong?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 24, 1994 | NORINE DRESSER
The hospital oncology department holds meetings for doctors to ease the emotional toll of treating dying children. At one session, Dr. Kent relates his concern about the family of Estela Ramirez, an 8-year-old patient who has recently died. He has visited the Ramirez home and discovers an altar with incense, candles, yellow flowers, fruit, plates of food and Estela's photo.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 10, 1994 | NORINE DRESSER
Donna and her family have just arrived from the Philippines. American friends, the Gordons, invite them over for a welcoming dinner. At the end of the meal, Donna's brother, Peter, belches loudly. The visiting family pays little attention to his behavior, but the Gordons think Peter acts like a pig. What went wrong? Peter was attempting to show how much he enjoyed the Gordons' food. In many areas of the Philippines, as well as in Saudi Arabia, belching is considered a compliment to the chef.
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