A member of our Sunday School class asked if any of we ladies would be interested in visiting with an Iraqi lady for an hour or so a week to teach her conversational English. The class-member is a soldier and knows her husband from Iraq (he’d been his interpreter there). Now he is here furthering his education as a linguist/interpreter. A group of ladies volunteered to help his wife learn English, and I am among them.
We’ll meet this afternoon at 3 to just introduce ourselves, chat a bit, and let her acquaint herself with our faces. That way, when we show up at her door sometime in the next few days, she’ll know it is okay to open her door to us. I can only imagine what it feels like to be a stranger in a foreign country, unable to speak the language and have no one to talk to all day long while my husband is off training with foreigners.
Can you imagine? I think: how do I greet someone who knocks? What should I say? Will I offend someone by what I’m wearing? Where do I begin? It seems dauntingly intimidating. I wondered what she would be thinking as she awaits us today…then realized I didn’t want to cause her any discomfort either. I want to make her feel as comfortable as possible with such a language barrier. I don’t speak Arabic. None…don’t even know how to say hello. So….
This morning I googled Iraqi customs and etiquettes. I found it’s good to bring a basket of fruit or box of cookies when visiting an Iraqi home. So I went to the Dollar General and got a darling little rectangle basket with a cloth liner. Then I went shopping and filled it with goodies. Fresh grapes, peaches, pears, and plums. I included a package of Reece Cups, Piroulene cookies, a box of peanut brittle, dried apricots, prunes, walnuts, pecans and raisins. I had such fun. I even added a long, soft, turquoise neck-scarf.
The article on Global Etiquette says to extend the basket to the hostess with two hands, to look her straight in the eyes and smile. It also says to shake her hand and lean over and kiss her on each cheek, beginning with the right cheek. I do want to get off to a good start. So I plan on following the suggestions. I’ll let you know how it goes. selahV