Friday, March 09, 2007

Meeting and Greeting

Meeting people
Last week at the black belt dinner, the subject of meeting people came up. I think it was connected to a discussion of Justin's joining the Drum group and other ways people might meet friends when you're new to something, like college?

I didn't have any general suggestions, but after a while, I thought of a few ways I met people in college.

What worked at college for me
1. I joined groups where I could do things I liked to do with others who liked to do them, like chorus, the women's spirituality group, German table.
2. This phrase came in very handy: "Are you going to lunch?" Often I'd make sure I left the classroom with people I liked (chatting on the way) and then ask if they were headed to lunch. Or supper. Then we'd go together.
3. Another phrase: "Stop up for a cup of tea sometime." I had a hot pot, tea, and tea pot. A cup of tea is friendly and non-threatening, and it gave me a chance to chat with people one-on-one, which I like.

Meeting and greeting at the dojang
Being in Tae Kwon Do gives us the opportunity to meet and get to know people in a friendly atmosphere. In fact, I'd argue that we are bound by the tenets of TKD, especially courtesy, to reach out to others, and to make people feel welcome.

Meeting people in TKD is easy. I just go up to new people and extend my hand and say "Hi, I'm Jane." We're supposed to do that. And I usually stay and talk to those I meet--in fact, I often get caught up in a conversation with just one person.

There are two things, though, that puzzle me about martial arts courtesy/hospitality.

1. It's easy for current students NOT to greet people. You can either come in and get started working out, or you can hang out with your friends instead of making sure to welcome everyone. Lots of people at our school do this, and I admit I am guilty of this at times, too.

2. There's this odd (to me) tradition, at least at our school, that lower belts go around and greet black belts. So black belts could, if they wanted to, just wait until people came to meet and greet them.

I don't like this tradition. I'm sure it has something to do with respect and seniority. But I think that those who are most connected with the school and most senior should reach out to those who are least connected. Why couldn't black belts set an example by reaching out to others instead of waiting until people came to them? Some black belts do this at our school, and I think it's nice.

As a new black belt, I still try to walk around and say hello to my fellow students (unless I get caught up in a conversation with just one. . . )

I wonder what it's like at others' schools.

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