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Both political and economic exchanges are practically non-existent. The sizeable Eritrean community in Switzerland has not to date justified the need to intensify. When Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn visits Egypt this week to discuss bilateral cooperation in sectors like health, education. The United Nations and the Independence of Eritrea .. can States favoured independence after an interim period of advice and assistance . Union stated that the plan amounted to "a marriage against the will of .. U 0 ~- ~ • oumei- Agwz.
Eritrean parents in Seattle generally have concerns about raising their children in American society. For example, parents may not readily accept teens dating, nor do they discuss topics like relationships and sex with their children.
As a result, there may be poor communication between parents and children. In Eritrea, dating is not allowed and teenage pregnancy is considered shameful.
Parents in the U. So, children are strongly discouraged from dating and the subject is fairly taboo. Consequently, some teens secretly date.
The importance of parental guidance through constructive and open communication should be stressed to members of the Eritrean community. Some rights reserved http: The ability to eat enough to be overweight is an indicator that a family is wealthy enough to afford excess and is therefore an aspiration for many Eritreans.
Consequently, it is difficult to assess how much one has eaten. These cultural practices regarding food and nutrition often translate to obesity and disease when Eritreans move to the United States.
The decrease in exercise and change in familiar foods leads to a rise in obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. There is a need to explain the concept of a healthy diet, portion control, and exercise.
Immigrant Eritreans may have little knowledge about healthy diet and exercise because weight related health issues were not a problem in Eritrea. Drinks, Drugs and Indulgences Alcohol On special occasions such as weddings, Eritreans may drink the traditional homemade alcoholic beverages, suwa and miyes. Suwa is more commonly consumed as it is less costly to make. It is made of barley, finger millet, or sorghum whatever is most available and hops is added for fermentation.
Miyes is considered to be higher class of drink, as its ingredients, which include honey and spices, are more expensive. Alcohol abuse among adults is reported to be rare among members of the Seattle-area community. Substance abuse of any kind is generally frowned upon by the Eritrean community. Drugs Some youth are exposed to and use drugs without the knowledge of their parents.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Eritrea
Photo by Carsten ten Brink. Some Eritreans are Catholic and some are Muslim. There are two Eritrean Orthodox churches in Seattle: Both have community centers. See Community Resources Section below for more information.
Eritreans often use church as a venue for community discussion. The church serves as a place to talk about community, social, and health issues. Youth receive cultural training in Tigrinya.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Eritrea
The church is the driving force in maintaining Eritrean culture. The Julian calendar is followed by Orthodox Church. Some dates are fixed. This person will be able to offer advice on how to approach the person, or may serve as the informant. While traditionally the mourning period may last up to two weeks, modern mourning periods may last only a weekend due to practicality.
The mourning ritual includes wearing black garments and gathering at a central community location. Male and female family members will sit on the floor in separate sections of the room. Visitors may come and go during this period, sitting around the family as they mourn. As visitors leave, they may express their condolences to the family and offer money to help defray burial costs.
Often one visitor will cry loudly in order to spark emotional responses from others and move the grieving process along. This person is usually designated by someone in the community to fulfill this role.
At a certain point, the family will announce closure and the mourning ritual will be over. Eritreans do not practice cremation but bury their dead. Often families wish to send the deceased back to Eritrea for burial. The trend of sending the deceased back to Eritrea is slowly fading due to financial constraints, increasing acculturation, and immigration fewer elders remain in Eritrea and since the deceased are generally returned to Eritrea in order for elders to have closure, this is no longer necessary.
If a spouse dies, Eritreans generally do not remarry; although they are more likely to if they did not have children from the marriage. Traditional Medical Practices Spices for sale in Asmara's market. If Western medicine does not work, Eritreans may return home as a last resort to utilize natural native remedies. Eritreans may not realize that large quantities of some plants may interact with pharmaceutical drugs and therefore it should be explained that although herbs may not seem like medication to the patient, doctors should be informed if the patient is using them.
Another traditional practice in Eritrea is therapeutic burningwhich is now illegal but may be evident in older generations. See also EthnoMed article: Circumcision Female circumcision is practiced in Eritrea and traditionally performed by lay healers.
The type of female circumcision varies from region to region. Eritreans wish to have all males circumcised. Experience with Western Medicine When living in Eritrea, most Eritreans used hospitals in much the same way as here in the United States.
In the United States Eritreans generally try Western medicine first for treatment and believe that doctors in this country are able to help them. However, some are troubled by certain practices. They may be concerned that too much blood is drawn for testing and would prefer to avoid this unless absolutely necessary. They may be resistant to blood transfusions but also understand that if absolutely necessary they will comply. If blood is being drawn, providers should explain exactly what the purpose is and what tests are being done on the blood.
It should also be explained that blood tests do not necessarily provide a total medical overview and sometimes blood tests are looking for one specific variable. Gender concordance between the health care provider and the patient is considered important by many Eritreans.
Eritrean men would prefer to be cared for by male health care providers. Eritrean women strongly wish to be cared for by female providers and if an interpreter is needed, a female is preferred. If an Eritrean is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, they first follow the Western medical plan.
Eritreans strongly wish that the family be informed first of a serious illness or poor prognosis rather then the patient, this way the family can inform the patient. If the patient is expected to die, it should be explained to the family that organs will not be harvested without consent. This information is especially important if an autopsy is to be performed.
Chronic Disease Chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension are common in the elderly Eritrean population due to advancing age.
Medication adherence for these conditions is often poor among the elderly, as most do not understand the purpose of supportive treatments like cholesterol-lowering drugs.
They do not understand the purpose of taking medication for conditions that do not present symptoms. Education about this issue, diet, and exercise is needed. See also on EthnoMed: Diabetes in the Eritrean and Ethiopian Community: Cultural Information and Recommendations for Diabetes Educators. Members of the Eritrean community in the Seattle-area primarily seek treatment at Harborview Medical Center even when having to travel a great distance.
Though some may not be aware that they can seek care at other medical centers or neighborhood clinics closer to home, others continue to travel to Harborview due to the comprehensive health services provided in one facility.
Anyone over the age of 20 who immigrated to the U. Many people do not understand the concept of depression but will see the doctor with complaints of physical symptoms that result from depression. Education needs to be done in the community about depression and stress. There is stigma associated with mental illness. Family members of a depressed or mentally ill person will usually recognize the problem and are supportive in helping the patient seek treatment. If one is working for an international agency such as a UN agencythen expatriate managers are expected to make all major decisions in a traditional hierarchical manner.
Within Eritrean structures, however, Eritreans are reluctant to give expatriates positions of authority. Generally, expatriates will be treated as technical advisors. One must be prepared for decisions to be made where you are not consulted or even informed and for conversations to take place in the local language while you are present even though all people in the room speak good English.
Information is generally shared on a "need to know" basis. It is a good idea to go to your supervisor to get answers to specific questions. Frequently, colleagues will not feel free to share information, not knowing if the supervisor believes the information should be shared. Gender, Class, Religion and Ethnicity. What impact would the above attitudes have on the workplace?
Historically, women have been relegated to child rearing and housekeeping and have been denied education as a result.
Women are now moving to fully exercise their rights and a number have been appointed to Ministerial jobs. I have been very much encouraged to see women from minority ethnic groups from remote villages going to literacy courses, learning how to drive cars and trucks and becoming bread winners.
People have absolute freedom to worship God in accordance with the tenets of the religion of their choice. The only area in respect of religion that is forbidden is the formation of a political party or association that serves a particular religion or ethnic group.
I was working as a high school teacher in a predominantly Muslim community in Eritrea and I had my days off on Fridays and Sundays while my friends working in the predominantly Christian zone had theirs on Saturdays and Sundays. Other Christian denominations are mushrooming in the country and time will tell if they will survive governmental laws separating the state from religion.
There is no class distinction in Eritrea. Peasants who till their individual farmland inhabit the countryside. Traditionally, village administration responsibility was done on a rotating basis but now the government is introducing a village council based on open nominations and voting. The working class is relatively homogeneous and the main employer is the government so there is no rich capitalist group of any significance. As in most African countries, strong labour and trade unions have existed since the mid 40s.
These unions were historically more preoccupied with political rather than economic issues and were the backbone and stepping stone for future African leaders, the Liberation movement and the fighting force.
They continue to be an important force to reckon with. In Eritrea, there are 9 distinct ethnic groups with different cultures, languages and modes of life. This war culminated in in the creation of the state of Eritrea, achieved through a United Nations supervised referendum. The workplace has its own norms and practices; people may think what they like but you should focus on the relationship you are trying to foster and the laws and regulations that bind you.
During the liberation war, the EPLF developed a strong ideology of equality between the sexes, with women being treated as equals and serving as fighters and in leadership roles. With the end of the war, it was expected that this new role for women would continue as the EPLF formed government.
While the ideology of gender equality continues in principle, in practice, women have increasingly been sidelined into more traditional roles. Their advancement in the workplace is also hampered by their generally lower educational levels.
Thus, women are generally found in administrative support roles, or technical roles such as accounting or health services.
The highlands are largely orthodox Christian, while the lowlands are inhabited primarily by Muslims. Officially, there are equal numbers of Christians and Muslims in Eritrea it is difficult to know the actual numbers. The EPLF liberation movement made a conscious effort to overcome religious differences and form a decidedly secular liberation movement. However, there are still underlying tensions between the Christian highlanders and Muslims from the lowlands. This serves as a basic cultural and ethnic divide in the country, with the Christian population largely occupying the most powerful positions.
Nevertheless, there is considerable religious tolerance for the major religions. There is less tolerance for some of the smaller Protestant Christian denominations, with many of these churches having been deregistered. The government seeks to restrict Christian and Muslim activities to pastoral and religious activities, separate from social service, development and political activities.
This religious dimension plays little role in the day-to-day workplace. The larger Eritrean identity has been successfully established. Unless one takes an interest in their lives outside of the workplace, one can work with colleagues without ever encountering their religious identity. The social and work structure respect hierarchy. Eritrean society permits social movement within the hierarchy based on education and ability. There does not appear to be a set class structure that is rigidly maintained.
There are nine formally recognized ethnic groups in Eritrea, with the Tigrinya being the most numerous and dominant. The Tigrinya live in the highlands and are generally Orthodox Christian. The other groups are primarily Islamic and often live or have their origins in the lowlands. The major languages spoken are Tigrinya and Arabic, with English being increasingly spoken in the major centres.
Some of the older people still speak Italian. Ethnicity continues to play an important role in social life, but the ruling party has made major efforts to transcend ethnic cleavages. The EPLF liberation movement that led the country to independence built a movement that joined peoples from the various ethnic groups and religions into one united movement. The EPLF pushed aside other liberation movements that were more ethnically and religiously based.
Cultural Information - Relationship-building Question: How important is it to establish a personal relationship with a colleague or client before getting to business?
It helps a lot and things go better where there is friendship and trust. In Eritrean society, the norm is chat and exchange niceties before delving into more serious business. People always want to have a win-win situation and part amicably so they can resume another round of negotiation until a mutual agreement is reached.
The saying goes, "it is better to have a bad marriage than a divorce". It is possible in Eritrea to engage in professional and business dealings without developing a personal relationship first.
Direct discussions of the issues at stake are possible in a spirit of mutual respect. There may even be a preference for engaging in this direct manner if negotiations are required. However, there is also considerable opportunity to develop personal relationships with colleagues and clients. Eritreans are open to the development of friendships. Showing and interest in cultural or sporting events and attending these together is another way to build friendships.
Accepting invitations to weddings is important. Eritreans are pleased to share their culture and lives with others. When entering a room, even if a meeting is in progress, it is important to greet everyone before engaging in business discussions.
Cultural Information - Privileges and Favouritism Question: Would a colleague or employee expect special privileges or considerations given our personal relationship or friendship Local Perspective: An individual will not come and ask you for a salary increase or a favour but as in most cultures, depending on the relationship and the level of comfort, it is not uncommon for someone to ask for a favour to hire a friend or relative.
No pressure or pushing the envelope is involved; it is all subtle and gentle. The only problem may be that it may become a nuisance if they keep pestering you, thinking you are the expatriate with a lot of influence. A common practice that I have seen is that if an employee dies or is disabled, his wife, son or daughter could be hired. This has a big positive impact for the family and the morale of the rest of the personnel. I never experienced any pressure to provide special favours to persons in the workplace based on personal friendship, other than the normal kindness and support one would extend to any friend eg: Outside of the work environment, if one asks for assistance in hiring domestic help, or locating certain technical services such as an electrician or plumber, people with links to the family are often recommended.
Cultural Information - Conflicts in the Workplace Question: I have a work-related problem with a colleague. Do I confront him or her directly? It is not hard to decipher if a colleague is having a problem or an issue with you. Body language and facial expressions will be enough to indicate that something is not right. You will be able to detect a change of attitude in the manner or the way he responds when you greet him. In such circumstances, find out if the grievance or grudge is work-related or not.
If the issue seems universal, raise the issue with everyone through a meeting or the bulletin board. If it is not work-related, you should meet the person outside the office and confront the person.
This is quite a good tool and is encouraged by the Eritrean legal system. In the Eritrean tradition, an independent conciliatory body that both parties accept and trust may be appointed to settle the issue right away. Work related problems are best dealt with privately, not publicly.
This would be regarded as overstepping your boundaries. As an outsider, one needs to make the necessary accommodations to colleagues if one wants to be effective, particularly supervisors and managers.
Security Message for U.S. Citizens: ERITREA TRAVEL WARNING | U.S. Embassy in Eritrea
You can very easily be sidelined and rendered ineffective by seeking to force change on others, by being perceived as requiring Eritreans to act in the way you think they should act. Eritreans are extremely proud and very resistant to outside pressure. Demanding your rights or respect is rarely successful. What motivates my local colleagues to perform well on the job? Stability, prestige, benefits and good pay are some of the factors that play a big role in boosting motivation and performance of local colleagues at work.
Most Eritreans take pride in their work and strive to excel. Positive reinforcement for work well done is important.
Being critical of performance is not generally helpful. Rather, one should share ways to improve performance using non-judgmental technical advice. There is a strong commitment to rebuilding the country following the liberation war and the recent conflict with Ethiopia. Efforts to improve performance built around this rebuilding ethic are positively received, as long as they are not presented as criticism. Showing excitement about what can be done is useful.
Comparing performance to other countries or people is often counter-productive. To help me learn more about the local culture splease recommend: Before setting your foot in Eritrea you could learn about the culture by visiting some of the Eritrean web sites such as the Eritrean Embassy in Washington.
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These sites will give you general information about the land and its people and what to expect while there. Depending on where you are in Canada, you can get in touch at least in the major cities in Canada with Eritreans and Eritrean Community offices or Eritrean restaurants, where you can drop in and learn the culture, see the diversity, taste their food and ask questions.
You can also watch films made by Alter-Cine and National Film Board of Canada to learn about Eritrean history of the recent past; you might also ask some of the communities to lend you any videos they may have from Eritrea.
Basic travel guides to Eritrea are useful starting points to getting background information on Eritrea. General histories of the region, including Ethiopia provide useful background. Books about the liberation war are important, as one cannot understand modern Eritrea without understanding the liberation struggle. This year war has fundamentally shaped modern Eritrea.
Although many books on the country are available in Eritrean book stores, they are hard to find outside the country. Culturally, the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea are very similar, as are the lowlands of the two countries. Books on the culture of the region, even if they are about Ethiopia, are useful.
Eating at an Ethiopian restaurant similar food to Eritrean food and often more easily found exposes you to the unique injera bread sour dough fermented flat bread and various sauces. Before travelling to Eritrea one can usually make contact with the local Eritrean community. Many Eritreans have settled in Canada.