Nancy Kyte is the marketing director for the Office of Adventist Mission at the General Conference world headquarters.

As professional immigrants, political refugees, and guest workers relocate to other countries, global representation is just about everywhere. How can we welcome new residents? An important first step would be to show respect to people as individuals. It is also helpful to do a bit of research on social manners of other cultures. Here are just a few interesting tips on good manners in other parts of the world.

NEPAL - It’s acceptable to make slurping sounds while you sip soup or hot drinks. In some places, slurping is a compliment to the cook.

IRELAND - The small plate next to your dinner plate is not for bread. Instead, it is used for the peelings removed from your boiled potatoes.

JAPAN - When you enter the front door of a Japanese home, you must remove your shoes and place them neatly to the side. You will be offered a pair of slippers to wear inside the house.

POLAND - The local culture in Poland may seem formal, but Poles are friendly and polite. Be sure to greet people when entering or exiting an elevator.

SWEDEN - If you are invited to someone’s home at 7:00 p.m., you must arrive at exactly 7:00 p.m. Punctuality is extremely important, while tardiness is considered impolite.

ECUADOR - You must never use your hand or finger to point at someone, but you may point by puckering or pursing your lips.

UZBEKISTAN - Don’t be offended when your host fills your teacup only half full. This is considered polite because the hot liquid will cool more rapidly, allowing guests to refresh themselves much sooner. Serving a full cup of tea is considered disrespectful.

MOROCCO - If you go to a party and a lot of people are in the room, first greet each person on your right. Then greet each person on your left. It is extremely important to say goodbye to each person before you leave.

THAILAND - There are thousands of Buddhist temples to see in Thailand. To enter a temple, it is important to show proper respect. Your arms and legs must be covered, otherwise you will have to borrow or rent a garment to cover up. 

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - Don’t be surprised if people stare at you. You might feel uncomfortable at first, but it is not considered impolite. Folks are simply curious about what you are wearing or what you are doing. (Just make sure you are on your best behavior!)

When we meet people from other cultures here at home or when we travel, we might make blunders without even realizing it. However, a friendly smile and respectful attitude will give us the confidence to take that important first step towards getting acquainted. Imagine the blessings of making an interesting new friend.

Nancy Kyte is the marketing director for the Office of Adventist Mission at the General Conference.