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mid-week Connect: 7/6/22 ~ What’s in a name?

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

This week I’d like to explore names, and just one of the many cross-cultural dynamics involved with using names when we greet people. In our Global SKILLs 3 Dimensional Dynamics training, we consider names when we study each dimension (Home, Host and Harbor) because they are so very tightly woven into the tapestry of cultural identity and practice.

I was reminded of this recently because I’ve been meaning to learn how to properly greet someone who walks in our community. I see him often and we always exchange a smile. But he has signaled to me that he speaks no English. Happily, one day he told me he is from Nepal. And then, serendipitously, I met a young Nepalese couple at the playground last week and as my grandson played with their son, I explained my situation and asked them what I should say to greet this man.

“What is his name?” was the first thing the young man responded. I told him I hadn’t yet been able to find that out. He explained to me that in Nepal, greetings begin with stating the name(s) of the individual(s). I totally understood this dynamic because it’s the same in many places, including where we lived among the Jola people in Senegal. “But”, I tried again, “what if initially there is no name - what could I say then?” Ah ha! He smiled, seemingly pleased I wasn’t to be denied, and explained there is a general greeting “Namaste”, and a gesture to accompany it - a slight bow with hands folded gently in a prayer position.

I was so delighted to have met this couple and now look forward to using the greeting (and the leavetaking - which I had to record because it was pretty complicated!). And as I reflect on our interaction, I also realize it can apply to so many things we might want to learn and do cross-culturally. Something as basic as a name can either be a barrier - or a threshold…preventing even the most basic communication or opening the way to a whole new world of cultural identity and exchange. Let’s not be stopped by those initial barriers we inevitably encounter but instead let’s enjoy the cultural adventures we can experience by crossing the threshold!

How about you ~ what’s one cross-cultural ‘name experience’ you’ve had?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for for more on names.

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,



~ interesting perspective from a Canadian higher education point of view:


* Global SKILLs 3 Dimensional Dynamics Model: 1st dimension = HOME ; 2nd dimension = HOST ); 3rd dimension = HARBOR (we explored all 3 dimensions today)

~ contact me for more information on this model and how you might use it in your current programming

2022 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

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