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Haiti

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If people from Haiti came to the US and central Virginia, how would their communication be perceived here? How would it be similar? How different? How would they be accepted?

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The Haitians mostly speak Kreyol, a little French and Creoles. However, they learn English as a second language. Thus, whereas English is not a first language, most Haitian people know English, or, at least, those of them who are literate. Their accent would be different from the Americans, but they would be able to communicate albeit with the minimal difficulties. Another issue would be the race. Haitians are mostly of African origin, and their ancestors came to Haiti as slaves centuries ago. Haitians and Americans have good relations which means they would get along. They would be similar in that they would understand each other’s language without many misunderstandings. The only major problem would be the accent. The Americans have a strong accent, while the Haitians have a mixture of Creoles and Kreyol.

There would also be disparities in their attires and general dress code. The communication would be similar due to the fact that English would be the language understood by both the Americans and the Haitians. Even though both of them wold understand each other, understanding some of the Haitian vocabulary would be difficult. Their English is a mixture of Creole, French and Kreyol (Heinl & Heinl, 1978). Nevertheless, they would be accepted since the Americans and the Haitians have had good relations since the historical times. They have had trading relations and coexisted peacefully for a long time. There would be no animosities and suspicion. Americans have been in the forefront of assisting Haitians in times of need. Americans and Haitians have cultural ties that have already existed for several decades. In the recent catastrophic events that took the lives of several Haitians, America quickly came to help and offered resettlement for the displaced Haitians, gave them food and enabled them to start their lives all over again. There have been cordial relationships among the Americans and the Haitians for a long time. They get along well. If they met in the central Virginia, it would not be  different from the described above.

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What behaviors are appropriate for the initial face-to-face meetings with individuals from Haiti?

When one meets a Haitian they are expected to shout outone’ which means “honor”. The one being greeted, the host, is expected to answer respe’ which means “respect”. Visitors are expected to drink coffee before they announce their departure. Leaving a household empty-handed is considered rude. At the very least one should seek for an apology. Greetings are very important, especially in the rural areas. The next time you meet a Haitian be sure to hold their hands. This is highly advisable. It is acceptable to say “Hello” several times before one engages into a further conversation. Men shake hands when they meet and they do this again when they leave. Men kiss women on the cheek while greeting (Leyburn, 1966). Women also kiss each other on the cheeks as a sign of greeting. Rural women prefer kissing their fellow females on the lips to display affection and affiliation. Haitians do not drink alcohol or smoke when greeting people. They can start a mock fight during the cocktails, but it is normal and should be expected. Men and women sit in a modest posture when they meet visitors. Haitians maintain direct eye contact with the people they encounter. They like exchanging pleasantries with strangers, but their voices are a little higher. They say eskize-m that means excuse me. They say this often when getting into other people’s places. Men hold hands in public and this should not be mistaken for homosexuality.

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