(Chapter 6: Different Concepts of Hospitality)
After reading chapter 6 (pp. 71-78) in Foreign to Familiar, respond to one or more of the following questions based on 1) what you’ve read and 2) your personal observation, experience, and opinions:
- Have you ever had dinner at the home of a friend, colleague, or professor from the U.S.? If so, how was the hospitality you experienced in that home similar to or different from hospitality norms in your culture?
- Have you ever been surprised when a U.S. American friend asked if you wanted to go out to dinner or a movie together that he/she expected you would each pay for individually (i.e. that you would “go Dutch“)? What did you learn from that — perhaps painful or embarrassing — experience?
Note from Monica: Even after having friends from hot-climate cultures for so many years, it’s still very hard for me to feel comfortable inviting friends to my home because I never feel my house is clean enough or that I can cook well enough. This is probably partially because I vividly remember my mom feeling intense pressure emotionally whenever she prepared for guests, since she felt honoring our guests (and perhaps saving face?) meant spending hours and hours cleaning our house and planning the meals before they arrived, spending time chatting with them in our living room while they were at our house (and collapsing in exhaustion after they left. . . . and after recovering from that exhaustion, cleaning up whatever “mess” was left over). Therefore, treasure any opportunity you have to visit a U.S. American’s home while you’re here. It’s not likely to happen often! Also, after the meal, offer to help wash the dishes and if they say “The dishwasher can do it,” offer to help load the dishwasher. (In the mostly rural U.S. Midwest, including Iowa, you need to offer a couple of times. . . .your host will likely refuse the first time to verify whether you’re really offering to help or just offering in order to be polite. . . .only if your host refuses a couple of times can you safely assume they are serious!)