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Avoiding the Ugly American Stereotype

Never serve finger foods in Bolivia and other tips to help you minister sensitively in unfamiliar cultures.

It was a beautiful summer day, and the crowds were meandering along Grafton Street to the melodies of a busking trio set up in front of a statue of Molly Malone. The trio, comprised of two violinists and a cellist, were performing "Pachelbel's Canon in D major" to perfection. As the crowd gathered in appreciation around the red-headed sisters in flowing white dresses, an incident occurred that was tantamount to crashing cymbals during a violin solo. A tourist, apparently walking toward a destination he could not find and oblivious to his surroundings, passed right in front of the musicians with an unfurled map in one hand and a cell phone in the other, yelling, "What's that? I can't hear you! Let me get past this noise!"

I cringed, thinking it couldn't get any worse, until a young boy in front of me tugged on his father's arm and asked in a distinctive Irish accent, "That was an American, wasn't it Dad?"

My heart sank.

Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland is known for many things: beautiful ...

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