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|| News Item: Posted 2012-01-02

Just Say Please
By David Honl

Photo by

A few words in Dari exhanged with these Afghan boys helped me acquire my custom tailored perahan tunban in Central Afghanistan this year.
One of the most important things I have learned in my travels has been the act of a simple gesture towards the people in the country you are visiting. At minimum, I make an effort to learn a few simple words or phrases like "please", "thank you", "hello", "goodbye", "yes", "no", "good", and "may I take your picture?" in as many languages as possible.

That one small gesture has elicited smiles from tired taxi drivers, animated attempts at conversation with children on the streets and some incredibly good recommendations on where to eat.

Taking the time to learn a few words in another countries mother tongue lessens the cultural differences, reaches out a hand and touches that person regardless of how good or hopeless your accent might be…you are making an effort and that’s what counts.

In my journeys through war torn counties and areas stripped of their livelihoods, education and ways of life I can still see the humanity and strength of character, the sense of hope when I greet someone in their own words….it reminds me that we are all truly one. A pleasant side effect from this use of international etiquette is I always find myself saying please and thank you a lot more when I return home.

The BBC is an excellent free resource for a number of languages:

Rosetta Stone, although expensive is a great way to dive head-first (I'm currently learning Dari):

Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun! (Happy New Year! in Turkish)

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