Building Bridges

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I love the cross-cultural challenge of my job – eating strange foods, drinking “local liquor”, making what I hope are culturally sensitive comments and asking culturally sensitive questions. Finding the right mix of deference and candor. Not coming across as the American with all the answers, but instead recognizing that we have a lot to learn from each other and that each country, each province, each agency and each orphanage takes pride in what they've accomplished.

Friday night at dinner with 8 Chinese provincial officials, I inquired about the increasing number of young people seeking to join the Communist Party, based on an article I had read on the flight over. They confirmed this and that led into a brief discussion of communism. Then the senior official offered a toast (one of several with the local liquor) to me in Chinese of course. So I asked if I just toasted to communism. After my question was interpreted, everyone laughed. I guess we’ll find out soon enough if I triggered an international incident.

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