Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy

I read about the Secret Society at the San Francisco Chronicle and it just made me so happy.

It's great to hear about people doing good things, just because.

A few days ago I met with some friends and we were discussing how in Germany it's not typical to say excuse me, I'm sorry, or to hold the door for others.

If you do, it's typically met with a 'nichts (or in Bavaria nix) passiert' - "nothing happened". One person mentioned she thought this summed up the German culture, while someone else went as far as to tell me once I lost my manners I would be integrated into the German way of life.

3.5 years and counting and I refuse to let that happen, even if it gives me away as a foreigner.

It's really interesting how hesitant people become when you offer to do something nice. They instantly think there must be a catch.

German readers - don't forget today is the last day to enter for the 50€ gift certificate! Just leave a comment on this post about your favorite ways to save when you travel!


JoernandAllison said...

Its interesting, I've been learning so much about Germans since starting to work at school. While I love this country, and love living here, some things do leave me to wonder. Its funny that this post should appear today. Last night, I told Joern that I would much rather be always considered foreign than to adopt a mentality that I do not believe in.
(Obviously, we'll have tons to talk about next time we meet up!)
And yes, the thought of people just doing good for the sake of doing good really leaves you with a warm fuzzy.

Lane said...

I can truly say that manners (at least the way we were brought up with them in the midwest USA) are one of the things I miss the MOST when over here. In Germany, in Norway, it's just no big deal not to say excuse me or to hold the door or to just stare blantantly at someone! I don't think you'll ever lose your manners Em, and if that means you aren't truly integrated, so be it!

Ashley said...

I completely know what you are talking about! I am from Illinois but lived in Rosenhiem just south west of Munich. I liked to do things like hold doors open for people and just random things like that because the response was so often funny. Like I was weird because I helped them with the door. If you grew up in the midwest its just second nature to help others out I think.

Emily said...

So glad I'm not alone on this one! It's worth it just to see the reactions. That's definitely one part of my Americanness that I'm not budging on.

Manners are certainly free to use - it's unfortunate more people don't take advantage.

Cait said...

This is funny, I swear I have to put my German hat on when travelling sometimes to cope with the lack of manners, just remembering what it was like to be in Munich and I can fight my way through the crowds, quite often of German tourists! And I can get away for being German, so Britain's reputation of being polite remains.
But it did drive me potty when living there, also the lack of personal space...

Emily said...

You have to come back! You'll be even better prepared for the terseness and lack of manners. Can't wait to catch up - your photos make me travelsick. Getting back to the real world isn't an easy transition!