Courtesies and Discourtesies

 KapeckasIt’s April Vacation and everyone is busy enjoying in different places! Mrs. Kapeckas arrived in Handan, China at her partner school! This is one of my favorite entries so far, and I think you will be really interested in her observations. At the same time, our IACS high school group in Costa Rica rode horses to the jungle yesterday, and I’m writing from New Orleans, where I am spending a few days of April Vacation!  It is currently POURING rain outside with loud thunder, but the weather is supposed to clear up and I will try to get out a blog entry soon. Where are you for vacation? Write in with your own global experiences (and remember, sometimes you can find lots of global learning close to home)!
Yesterday, I traveled to Handan where I will be attending the No. 31 Middle School this week. I am grateful to be staying with Dr. Hei Wang, the principal of the school and his wife and will be shadowing Vice Principal Yaolin Pei. This weekend, I have been welcomed as if I were a foreign dignitary and I thought I would share in this blog post some of the ways Chinese welcome guests and the courtesies they bestow. I will also share some of my observations of customs we might find rude in the US that are not considered to be so here.


  • Making "welcome dumplings"

    Making “welcome dumplings”

    When I was welcomed into the home of Dr. Wang and his wife, Ms. Guo, we immediately began preparing delicious dumplings filled with vegetables, mushrooms, and shrimp together for lunch. They shared that it is customary to prepare dumplings together when you wish to welcome something. They said that we would eat noodles on my last night to signify a long and lasting friendship, like the length of the noodle.

  • People are very friendly and polite. Here in Handan, foreign tourists are not very common, so many people say “Hello” in English and some even want to pose for a picture with me. People generally call each other by their family name (i.e. Mr. Pei)
  • A future blog entry will center on food. For now, please know that it has been delicious and plentiful. Food is served around a round table, family style, on a large lazy susan. When you are welcoming guests, elaborate banquets with lots of dishes are prepared along with many toasts. Lunch today involved….no exaggeration…22 courses.
Table is set for a banquet!

Table is set for a banquet!

Discourtesies or just customary?

  • Men often spit. I know this happens in the United States, but the spitting here involves throat-clearing and is loud and frequent. Maybe it’s because of the pollution although I have not seen any women spitting? Some places, there are “no spitting” signs posted.



  • Honking horns is constant. Perhaps this is necessary. If there are traffic laws, they do not seem to be obeyed. The streets are flooded with cars, mopeds, bicycles and people without clear marking of lanes, frequent driving on sidewalks in various directions, and three-point turns on highways. Apparently, drinking and driving was allowed up until a year and a half ago after laws were passed after some major accidents. So maybe the horn serves a purpose, but it seems excessive.
  • Young children pee in the streets. Toddlers wear pants with their rear ends exposed (no diapers) and just go in the road. I don’t suppose we find that rude as much as unsanitary. A future blog entry will involve the bathroom situation. It is not always pretty.
Is there anything Americans do that is customary that you think other cultures might found rude? What rituals do we have to welcome guests and show hospitality?
Hope the IACS community is enjoying the start of April vacation!

~ Melissa Kapeckas

Categories: China Guest, Guest Posts

3 replies »

  1. Interesting post, Ms. Kapeckas!! The dunplings sounded delicious!!! 🙂
    1) I’m not really going anywhere for April vacation, but today I’m going over to my friend, Emily’s, house for a movie marathon!!!!! Can’t wait!!!!! 😀
    2) When I was in Beijing, I had seen a lot of the things that you listed in your “Discourties or just customary?” list. And, yes, it’s customary.
    3) I think that maybe when Americans allow women to do many things that men do might be offensive because in some other countries, they don’t allow women to attend school.
    4) Maybe when we ask for the person’s name when we welcome he/she into a house. In Quarter 2 during Social Studies, I learned that the Ancient Greeks didn’t even ask for the person’s name when they showed hospitality. They just took care of that person.
    Best Wishes!!
    😉 ~ Anna

  2. China seems fascinating, but not to sanitary. Then again neither is america. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

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