Here are 4 top tips for expats living in emerging economies. Today there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of expats living in developing nations, either because they’re working for an embassy, an NGO involved in humanitarian aid, or a multinational corporation.
Typically these expats live a life of privilege, even by western standards, let alone by the standards of their host countries. Here are some tips for expats to be aware of, so they can sensitively respond to their country hosts.
Tip #1: Follow your heart.
It can be confusing and uncomfortable for western expats to encounter beggars and poverty on the street. Every person must look into their own heart to determine if they want to give money or food to beggars. And there may not be a one-size- fits-all-answer.
When I was living in New Delhi, India, I didn’t give money to beggars, particularly if I was walking, or every beggar in town would have accosted me. Except for sometimes. There would be the exception when someone pulled at my heartstrings, and I would break my rules and give whatever I had. And that’s okay. This is a sensitive area where it’s difficult to have hard and fast rules.
Tip # 2: Honor the humanity of others.
I think it’s okay to have this rule! Even if you’re not comfortable giving to beggars, it’s important to make eye contact and shake your head no, if that’s your answer.
This is a fellow human being most likely doing the best they can, in a very dire situation. We can always smile while saying no. It might seem like this is no consolation, but I have never found anyone to resent a smile and an acknowledgement.
Tip # 3: Consider giving something other than money.
I frequently carried packets of biscuits with me, particularly if I was riding in a car. Sometimes children would refuse them, but rarely. You can always have some bananas or other fruit with you. In general, it’s safer giving if you’re in a vehicle than when walking on the road.
Tip # 4: Answer your children’s questions about poverty as simply and honestly as you can.
Children may have a hard time understanding why a person is begging, particularly if it’s another child. Explain as simply as you can that you’re living in a poor country and that often people don’t have enough to eat. It’s important for children to know that in basic ways these people are no different than we are and they must always be treated respectfully and politely. Of course, make your response age-appropriate so they’ll understand.
It’s not always easy living in a developing country, but these tips will help you to become a bit more comfortable.
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