Danes get a bad rap.
It's a pure and simple fact.
I have seen more blogs by foreigners about every single "rude Dane" who would not greet them in the check-out line at the grocery store or speak to them while waiting for the bus than I care to remember. I have also read things about truly awful behavior that people have encountered, but I believe that we need to be oh, so careful before we generalize one person's poor manners as being indicative of an entire culture. There are most DEFINITELY rude, mannerless Danes; I know for a fact there are also rude, mannerless Americans, and I am confident that there are even rude, mannerless Aussies.
However, in light of recent events in my life, today's blog is about the WONDERFUL interactions I have had with many Danish people over the last two weeks. Again, this is not too generalize that these people's GOOD behaviors are indicative of the entire culture, but I think that since there are so many blogs out there bashing the Danes' interactions with us foreigners, they deserved one that highlights the GOOD.
Plus these comments made me feel great when I received them, so maybe that feeling that I have had will somehow trickle onto those reading this..... We can all use a little greatness every now and then, right?
Last week I wrote an email to a group of parents whom I met in early February. These parents are the ones for whom I gave my VERY FIRST EVER presentation PÅ DANSK (both written and oral). They were so nice to me that night and knew I was still coming along in my learning, but I promised them that I was working hard to improve and that by the time their kids graduated in 2 1/2 years, I should be AWESOME! :-)
These are the parents of the next group of students we are sending to Seattle this fall, so I will have MANY written and oral communications with them over the next few months; this email last week was just the beginning. I apologized up front in the email (as I often do!) and requested if they did not understand anything I had written to please write back and ask. (You see, I always get a colleague to proofread my Danish writing when it is a formal document, but there is no way I can get all my emails proofread...that is not fun for anyone! So I do it on my own and get a little better each time!)
Anyway, most parents replied with the necessary information for which I had asked them, (which shows that they DID understand me! YEAH!!) but a handful of them added some extra things to their response. (Which if you know the Danish culture, adding unnecessary things to a written correspondence is NOT common, so that tells me that they thought the encouragement was NECESSARY! And for that, I am grateful!)
Here is a sampling of what I received.... small words, but BIG meaning to the receiver!
1. Det er helt korrekt mail, min søn er _______________.
Og det med dansk det kommer du fint omkring. :-)
2. Det virker det hele - tak for mail.
OG dit dansk er meget fint. Det perfekte er ikke altid det bedste :o)
3. Vi glæder os til at høre mere fra dig.
Mht. at skrive dansk: Det går fint, bare fortsæt.
4. Flot dansk, det kan alle forstå.
5. (She even responded to me in English!)
Nice to hear from you!
You're speaking our language very well.
Looking forward to hear from you, when you are sending the "STATUS RAPPORT".
As you can see, none of these stood out as important information or something really related to what I was asking for in my email. However, they took the time to encourage me and for that, I am grateful. These parents will, most likely, never know how much their small notes meant to me, but they will see the benefit of it because these small things make me want to try even harder to improve... AND I WILL (improve, that is) !