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Cultural Differences

What are They?
by Joy


When I lived in North Burnaby in 2003, Bill and Ann were my neighbours. Bill was a kind and quiet man and his wife, Ann, was an excellent cook. Her delicious cookies always impressed me.

When Chinese Mid-Autumn festival came along, I gave a box of green bean cakes to Bill and told him that these were a very popular Mid-Autumn festival snack in Taiwan. Four days later, I was invited to their home and found that the box of green bean cakes remained untouched. I asked her why.

Astonished, she replied, “What? Are they snacks?”

“Of course, didn’t Bill tell you that?”

“No. He just said that these were from you. I thought they were Chinese face soap because there is no English information on them," she said.

When I heard that, the picture of Ann washing her face with a crispy green cake appeared in my mind.

I never dreamed that green bean cakes could be mistaken for soap. I learned that the clear communication was very important.