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mid-week Connect: 3/22/23 ~ the 1st Cup of Tea

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

Almost 2 years of weekly Connects ago, I introduced the Senegalese Tea Drink as a wonderfully rich source of cross-cultural insights. We looked at that time at the 3rd cup of tea (4/28/21 blog post here). I promised to return and explore the other 2 cups, so this week - let’s look at the first cup (“atongandau” in Jola). This fits into the Transformations component of our Global SKILLs’ PROACTive Strategies because, as we shall see, it only begins with bitter - promising much more positive results!*

Oh my, that first cup is very bitter, packed with fresh “gunpowder” black tea leaves and only hints of sugar and mint which come through so strongly in subsequent cups. It is so bitter in fact, there is an appropriate formula for refusing it - often not an option in awkward moments when a guest really does not want to partake of proffered food or drink! The formula is simply saying, “A Blessing on you. I will wait for ‘agabtanau’ - the 2nd cup”. During years among the Jola people, and countless tea drinks with friends in which I participated, I became known as an ‘agabtanau’ drinker. That was fine, it provided all the more for those who did drink the first cup and kept me comfortably in the group dynamic.

Which brings me to what I see as the potentially transformative bitterness of any cross-cultural experience. When we come across unpleasant or undesired or downright bitter challenges - we can either shut down and just refuse to engage (deciding tea drinks are not for us)...or we can learn and effectively employ culturally appropriate options (skipping to that 2nd cup). That way, we move through the challenge, transforming bitterness into progressively sweeter moments and all the benefits of becoming more integrated and engaged with the other culture.

How about you ~ what is one bitter cultural start you have successfully navigated through to transformative results?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for more takes on the benefits of bitterness…around the world!

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,



~ eating bitterness in Chinese culture:

~ taste perceptions - a scientific abstract, to ‘whet’ your appetite for further reflection on bitterness:


* Through my business Global SKILLs and several partner subsidiaries I offer unique cross-cultural consulting and training including:

3 Dimensional Dynamics Model:

1st dimension = HOME ; 2nd dimension = HOST ; 3rd dimension = HARBOR)

PROACTive Learning Strategies:

PRO = PROfile, PROcess, PROgram

ACT = Application, Collaboration and Transformation (which we explored this week)

~ contact me for more information on this model and these strategies and how you might use them in your current programming:

2023 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

Please Note: this is copyrighted content.

Please do not reproduce or share without my permission (

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