With the growing number of genealogists making visits to the countries
where our families once lived, I would like to respectfully suggest each
one of us make some promises to ourselves before we go.
My "Code of Behavior" while I am researching in ________________.
I promise to say Please and Thank You.
(I will also try to learn how to say these words in the local language.)
I promise not to be impatient with people who do not speak my language
or do not speak it as well as I do. I promise not to say it louder just
because someone did not understand the first time. I promise to speak
slowly and clearly.
I promise not to raise my voice in frustration or anger when someone
tells me it is not possible or that I will have to wait.
I promise to stand in line and wait my turn when it is the appropriate
thing to do.
I promise not to allude to my social or economic or other status,
and thereby make the person with whom I am dealing feel inferior.
(Expressions like "I can buy and sell you" may not be readily
understood; worse, they may be taken for something even more
insulting than they are.)
I promise to be diplomatic when I discuss sensitive and painful matters
like the Holocaust and its effect on my family.
I promise not to raise the subject of "lost property" under any
circumstances without guidance from qualified experts in the subject.
I promise not to haggle over prices quoted for personal services
(guides, translators, etc.) and to remember that this is the way these
people make their living.
I promise not to act as if my country's currency has special magic.
I promise not to make comparisons between what I observe and the
way "it" is done in my country. I will save these comments for family
and friends after I return.
I promise to respect the rules of the archives I visit and to ask
permission before doing anything which may be contrary to local
regulations (such as taking photographs of records, etc.)
I promise to be the perfect guest in any country I visit just as I
would want only perfect guests to visit me.
I promise to remember that others will follow me.
I promise to send a note of thanks to those people who have been kind,
courteous and helpful to me.
I promise to ask if I am not sure of anything.
I promise to share these promises to myself with my friends who plan
to research overseas as well as those who will accompany me on my travels.