Hand Shake

The other day I asked Nyein about the Burmese handshake and he told me that people do it because they consider it more polite.  Some of the Burmese arrivals will shake my hand but will place their left hand under the elbow or forearm of their right while shaking.  So I began trying it out on Sunday and have gotten mixed responses.   Some consider it normal others don’t even notice and some smile.

Later I was talking to Peng Len about this and he said that to be really polite you not only shake hands as described but you keep your head bowed low and don’t make eye contact.  He laughed as he demonstrated such, in an exagerrated way.  His daughter, Bibi said they were trained in Asia, that when they got to America, they needed to shake hands firmly while making eye contact.  I was talking to Eh Le Say and he said he quit doing the old way of shaking hands at the refugee camp.  It is great that many of the Burmese desire to move toward American culture and language.  They have had to leave their home and learn to do things in a new way.

I commend Pastor Inthava because he knows many of the Southeast Asian customs and is also trying to learning basic words and greetings in the Burmese languages.  And of course a hug is a great greeting in American and the Burmese culture.  Whatever we can do to ease this transition for these people is an important gesture of kindness for the people of Burma living in High Point.

Mu Yah Pel and Khu Lay

Mu Yah Pel and Khu Lay


About johnmcmurphy

Jesus is first and foremost in my life. He is above all religions, principalities and powers. In everything He must increase and I must decrease. Into the hands of Jesus, God has placed life and death, truth and purity. strength and meaning. Only in a growing understanding of the triune God, and his son Jesus can I do, breathe, exist and serve. I have a Bachelor's degree in Bible from Vennard College, a Master's in Social Science from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph. D. from Ohio State in Family Relations and Human Development. I am an ordained pastor involved in cross-cultural ministry. I am currently employed at several colleges as an instructor. If you need to get in touch with me, just leave a comment, I screen all comments and so you can leave further contact information which I will erase before it is published. -John

Posted on June 24, 2009, in E-G, H-J, K-L, N, O-P, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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