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Cultural Tips for New Americans

Art Literature & Book Publishing 2010-2011

To be a foreigner — one who is defined as not from here — often means unknowingly breaking rigid social and cultural rules. Definitions of these social and cultural standards often say a lot about the native society. As the proverbial Land of Opportunity, the United States has always had a steady stream of new Americans and “what it means to be an American” is loudly and frequently discussed on national television.

For Cultural Tips For New Americans project, Alina Bliumis gathered advice to help recent arrivals assimilate and understand their new home. She took advice from published guides, public forums, streets questionnaires, social websites, and friends to create tips like:

When two Americans are standing and talking to each other they stay at least 16 inches away from each other.” Life in the USA, The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans by Elliot Essman


Never refuse gum if an American offers it to use. Offering gum is a polite way to tell someone that they have bad breath.” Jenny W. on Facebook

She illustrated these tips and produced the Cultural Tips handbook.


She installed the posters onto phone kiosks and placed stickers in various places on the Bowery and in Chinatown and Soho, from May 1 to May 28, 2011.

Accompanying the street-level posters, we engaged with the lower east side community and gathered one hundred and four new cultural tips from visitors, in exchange for the handbook on Saturday May 7, 2011.

More information about the project can be found at


Alina Bliumis Cultural Tips for New Americans