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Old 22.10.2009, 13:51
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My point of view

I am Swiss and would like to discuss some topics who are constantly repetitions. (in my bad english, sorry...)

1. To be polite
I often read the word "polite" in such discussions. But behind "polite" is no international standart. What exactly is mean when someone write that Swiss are polite or not?
One example, the Swiss ask if the space is still available in a train or tram bevor they sit down. Make sense? Maybe not, bud it is "polite".
Or, if you ask somebody "How do you do", you really care about all the time? Nope, bud is "polite" to ask. Each country has his own rules about to be "polite". And not all of dem make sense, bud why not adapts itself to the Country you live in or at least enjoy the differences?

2. :"to be yelled at..:"
Next topic are:"to be yelled at..:" Offensive? Sure! Rude? Of corse! Something to think longer than a few minutes about this? Definitely no!
Why do some crying or be angry about the situation for months just because a stranger expressed loudly his opinion? I think we are adult enough to give such a situation the attention it deserves....is just not a big deal here

3. Opening times
This discussion, I have never understood. Life is so much more than shopping. Everything else can be planned.

4. "America Bashing"
Why do you think that this is so popular? Serious Question!

I do not know exactly how my text looks, my english is not good enough. However, I would like to assure you that I mean it kindly!
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Old 22.10.2009, 13:56
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Re: My point of view

Your English is fine- absolutely understandable. It also has a charming icanhascheezburger quality to it .
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Old 22.10.2009, 13:59
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Re: My point of view

1. I agree
2. I m not usually oversensitive and try to overlook offenses as much as possible, but if somebody yells at me (rightfully or not), that usually spoils my day
3. depends on how u look at shopping.. from a necessity point of view, some people would feel easier with extended shopping hours due to their current working - commuting hours
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Old 22.10.2009, 16:15
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Re: My point of view

Welcome to the forum!

Thanks for letting us know what you think - it is always good to hear the other side of the issue. Of course, you've stumbled into a group of people who are, for better or worse, away from "home" (yes, for some of us this is now our home and where we came from isn't). Sometimes we just need to vent and let off steam about things.

I think the harshest group of expats I've seen was a German-speaking group living in the UK. Wow, that was hyper-critical and very nose-in-the-air.

Regarding your comments:

1. I agree

2. I don't think anyone likes to be yelled it, it makes one feel inferior or like a child. It is not just the volume of the voice, but the tone and the attitude of those doing the yelling.

3. It is a matter of convenience. For example, I've had the flu for the past week. Over the weekend, on Saturday night, I was running low on fairly essential supplies for someone who has the flu. My only real choice was to make do and force what I had to last (or go without) until Monday, when I could buy the needed items. I did not feel up to going out to the train station to get what I needed, and did not think it was a good idea to infect all of Basel with the flu. It isn't always a matter of planning.

4. I know why - America tends to shove itself down the throat of the world, via media (movies, tv, music, etc.) and militarily.

Your English was clear to understand, no need to worry!
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Old 22.10.2009, 16:32
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Re: My point of view

Hi, NoToM, and thanks for giving us a fresh perspective from a Swiss point of view. Your English is easily understandable, no worries.

I'm the one who started the whole America bashing thread and I regret it. I had just moved here and was not really aware of how prevalent it is. Therefore, I was a little (lot!) put out by how it seems to be "taken with a grain of salt". In other words, even though I had vacationed here in Europe many times, it wasn't until I moved here that I realized that trashing America is quite the norm and I needed to grow a thicker skin. My skin has now grown much thicker and it is only when I open my mouth that people know where I am from. (So, I try not to do that so much!)

Welcome to the forum.
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Old 22.10.2009, 16:36
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Re: My point of view

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Hi, NoToM, and thanks for giving us a fresh perspective from a Swiss point of view. Your English is easily understandable, no worries.

I'm the one who started the whole America bashing thread and I regret it. I had just moved here and was not really aware of how prevalent it is. Therefore, I was a little (lot!) put out by how it seems to be "taken with a grain of salt". In other words, even though I had vacationed here in Europe many times, it wasn't until I moved here that I realized that trashing America is quite the norm and I needed to grow a thicker skin. My skin has now grown much thicker and it is only when I open my mouth that people know where I am from. (So, I try not to do that so much!)

Welcome to the forum.
It took me about five years of living here not to cringe when someone said "Oh ja, the English kitchen..." with a smirk and a mirthless laugh when describing English cuisine.

Made me want to shove a pork pie down their throat...
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Old 22.10.2009, 16:59
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Re: My point of view

Like a typical Swiss, you think that if something is a certain way in Switzerland... it's the best way. Leave your village man, travel around.

The opening hours are a pain in the a$$ for anybody who actually works a 9-5 job for a living and is not retired, on maternity leave or a rentier. Having only a 3-4 hour shopping window per week is ridiculous, if you have to add to this having to have lunch, haircut etc.

Just because a shop is open, I do not feel obligated to go in and spend money, but I welcome the opportunity to have the liberty to do so when it is convinient to me.
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Old 22.10.2009, 17:02
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Re: My point of view

Just how I feel. And think about all the job opportunities the longer opening hours would create!
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Old 22.10.2009, 17:13
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Re: My point of view

Thanks for the post NoTom, you made some very good observations.

1.) I have adapted quickly to being more formal in Switzerland. It was a change and I am sure I still don't do everything properly, but I have not problem learning the social/cultural norms in Switzerland. I'd much rather have people be more polite than not polite at all.

2.) I haven't been yelled at here that much or maybe I just could not understand the Swiss German to know i was being yelled at . I spent some time in Austria and had my initiation to being yelled at when crossing the road when the light was red, putting my feet on the bus/subway seats, etc. So I think that was less of a shock to me here. Again, it's not a big deal. Just acknowledge it and forget about it. Nothing to take personally.

3.) Opening times: As an American, this is still annoying to me at certain times. Usually I can plan ahead, but working in the corporate world when you are traveling and working late hours, it is difficult to go grocery shopping at a normal hour. I don't think every store needs to be open late or on Sundays, but it would certainly be nice to have more options sometimes.

4.) As an American, I am very guilty of being an American basher as well. I am frustrated often at politics in my country and embarrassed by a lot of the trash that is on American television. As a citizen you feel very powerless at time to make a difference or change the political system. I really cannot watch American news on the television, I get so frustrated and it just stresses me out.

But I will also admit it is hard (embarrassing maybe?) to see your country in the news so much and so often portrayed so poorly. It is a very large country and hard to stereotype that every American is the same. Someone from a small town in Alabama is much different than someone from NY city or San Francisco, etc.

But until someone overtakes us as the big military and entertainment superpower, I would expect the bashing to continue. Just remember there are a lot of very open-minded and intelligent Americans. Don't think that we are all like the people you see on MTV reality shows or Jerry Springer
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Old 22.10.2009, 17:15
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Re: My point of view

1. Agree with the politeness standar. Some aspects of politeness is more than I'm used too (greetings (hi/byes), interpersonal actions etc.). But on the otherside, some situations lack the politeness i'm expect (cutting or pushing to be the first in a queue line, moving through crowds, staring down 'different' strangers). As with anywhere new, it's a healthy mix

2. I have luckily never been yelled at yet. Although I usually love dealing with people who bring such extreme emotion, I'm happy not to have the stress.

3. I hate having to plan my shopping. Miss 24 hour groceries and malls till 10 + sundays! I think everyone can agree on this (who don't work in retail )

4. I see america's faults, but they're no more than any other country in my opinion. Bashing is unnecessary, I still have a lot of respect for the country, historically they came together when it was most needed, and although this is just becoming a page from the history books, the world still has to appreciate what was done. IMO
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Old 22.10.2009, 22:26
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Re: My point of view

1. Politeness means respect and consideration for the other person's space, opinion, identity. I appreciate the Swiss reserved politeness. Politeness is also a means of putting a distance. I tend to become very very polite if something is disturbing me. So politeness can also become indifference and have a negative meaning
2. Being yelled at is terrible. It makes me cringe. So no I do not share your opinion there.
3. Opening hours: 21h like in France would be great, it would create employment, boost the economy and would balance out the flood of humanity invading shopping centers at 16:30 pm on a Saturday.
4. I don't like finding fault with a country or with it's people. It's useless debat and with all the stuff filling our real lives, I couldn't be bothered to have an opinion.
Just try and do good and the rest should take care of itself regardless of the country.

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Old 22.10.2009, 23:12
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Re: My point of view

I can live with politeness- I was brought up with it. But it cannot be mistaken for warmth.
Shouting and by so doing humiliating somebody publicly, is unforgiveable and for me unfortunately, unforgetable.
Pride is sometimes a valuable gift.
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Old 22.10.2009, 23:19
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Re: My point of view

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Like a typical Swiss, you think that if something is a certain way in Switzerland... it's the best way. ...
I'm probably a typical Swiss and don't agree on all points with the OP, especially the one concerning opening times.
Thank you very much Canadian Dude for your nice remark about the Swiss....
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Old 22.10.2009, 23:42
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Re: My point of view

america bashing. .

the primary reason i think american bashing is so excepted, is because it is really easy to do. . . it is like littering, everyone has done it at one time, but no one thinks its that bad. . . being american i can understand why europeans make fun of americans, because of simple universal thing that are completely unknown by americans. for example, measurements of tempter, length, or volume. in which a simple question like how tall are you??, can leave you looking like a complete idiot. . . and we are now living in a place where descriptive words like side-walk, is overcast by the vagueness of the word pavement. . . where as everyone knows the new slang coming out of hollywood, no one in the US has chance of knowing what the newest styles are in the UK. but anyway it doesn't really matter, because there is always going to be a hatred for a land of the brave and free. . . am i wrong??
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Old 23.10.2009, 02:17
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Re: My point of view

Americans are loud, brash and self-centered

Americans are forgiving, accepting, faithful and most of all generous

Marshall Plan or European Recovery Program, project instituted at the Paris Economic Conference (July, 1947) to foster economic recovery in certain European countries after World War II. The Marshall Plan took form when U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall urged (June 5, 1947) that European countries decide on their economic needs so that material and financial aid from the United States could be integrated on a broad scale. “The ECA functioned until 1951, when its activities were transferred to the Mutual Security Agency. Over $12 billion was dispersed (1948–51)

In the mid- to late-1950's, wartime expenses threatened economic ruin in Japan. Post-war inflation, unemployment and shortages in all areas seemed overwhelming. The American government played a crucial role in Japan’s initial economic recovery.

I have been working internationally for almost 15 years and try my hardest to respect other cultures. I understand how people that have not been to America and experienced “fly-over country” perceive Americans, we are not just New York or LA. However, sometimes it’s just too much. Back in 2003 I was riding the tube in London with a British colleague when 43 was visiting Mister Blair and just because of my accent this young enlightened gentlemen thought he could berate me and my country. Now this young man wanted to know why I thought, “Americans could bully the world and who did we think we are”. My British colleague (who was in his early 60s) tried to explain that if it wasn’t for the ugly Americans there was a good chance that the young man would have grown up with a swastika pin on the lapel of his brown shirt. I intervened, maybe I was just tired of trying to “just get along” or because of the 4 or 5 pints of Old Speckled Hen and told the young man that “We do it because are planes are faster, are guns are bigger and are Marines are tougher” then I reached over and patted him on the cheek. This is when my colleague decided we were at our stop and gently took me by the arm and stepped off the train.

I find a lot of Americans are self-conscious of being an American. The average American is a myth. We are a conglomeration of other nations and peoples (I happen to be 2nd generation German Italian). Mostly I believe a lot of the American bashing comes from jealousy of our freedoms and success and a fear of our largeness and unpredictability, but there comes a time when we as Americans need to remember the words of Rhett Butler.

“Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”

Hope my opinions neither insult nor bore.

Cheers,

Trav

Last edited by evilshell; 23.10.2009 at 07:42. Reason: removed stray formatting font tags that were displayed, fixed font
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Old 23.10.2009, 03:20
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Re: My point of view

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Like a typical Swiss, you think that if something is a certain way in Switzerland... it's the best way. Leave your village man, travel around.

The opening hours are a pain in the a$$ for anybody who actually works a 9-5 job for a living and is not retired, on maternity leave or a rentier. Having only a 3-4 hour shopping window per week is ridiculous, if you have to add to this having to have lunch, haircut etc.

Just because a shop is open, I do not feel obligated to go in and spend money, but I welcome the opportunity to have the liberty to do so when it is convinient to me.
Spoken like a typical Russian who wants to be Canadian.
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Old 23.10.2009, 07:29
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Re: My point of view

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My skin has now grown much thicker and it is only when I open my mouth that people know where I am from. (So, I try not to do that so much!)
Dear Spouse, I was touched by your message and your feeling in this sentence.
Your messages are spontaneous and interesting, and reflect how you most probably are in person and I would find it a pity that you would tend to become reserved due to your (our) origins.

We are a mix of who we become because of living in Europe and our origins (wouldn't change the core, anymore than the color of one's eyes).
That international alchemie creates a persona that allows one to understand differences and broadens the horizon to new cultures.
So please, it would be a shame to become quiet so that people don't know where you're from. You are who you are and bringing fresh ideas and new perspectives can be enriching to other people.
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Old 23.10.2009, 07:49
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Re: My point of view

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Americans are loud, brash and self-centered

Americans are forgiving, accepting, faithful and most of all generous

Marshall Plan or European Recovery Program, project instituted at the Paris Economic Conference (July, 1947) to foster economic recovery in certain European countries after World War II. The Marshall Plan took form when U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall urged (June 5, 1947) that European countries decide on their economic needs so that material and financial aid from the United States could be integrated on a broad scale. “The ECA functioned until 1951, when its activities were transferred to the Mutual Security Agency. Over $12 billion was dispersed (1948–51)

In the mid- to late-1950's, wartime expenses threatened economic ruin in Japan. Post-war inflation, unemployment and shortages in all areas seemed overwhelming. The American government played a crucial role in Japan’s initial economic recovery.

I have been working internationally for almost 15 years and try my hardest to respect other cultures. I understand how people that have not been to America and experienced “fly-over country” perceive Americans, we are not just New York or LA. However, sometimes it’s just too much. Back in 2003 I was riding the tube in London with a British colleague when 43 was visiting Mister Blair and just because of my accent this young enlightened gentlemen thought he could berate me and my country. Now this young man wanted to know why I thought, “Americans could bully the world and who did we think we are”. My British colleague (who was in his early 60s) tried to explain that if it wasn’t for the ugly Americans there was a good chance that the young man would have grown up with a swastika pin on the lapel of his brown shirt. I intervened, maybe I was just tired of trying to “just get along” or because of the 4 or 5 pints of Old Speckled Hen and told the young man that “We do it because are planes are faster, are guns are bigger and are Marines are tougher” then I reached over and patted him on the cheek. This is when my colleague decided we were at our stop and gently took me by the arm and stepped off the train.

I find a lot of Americans are self-conscious of being an American. The average American is a myth. We are a conglomeration of other nations and peoples (I happen to be 2nd generation German Italian). Mostly I believe a lot of the American bashing comes from jealousy of our freedoms and success and a fear of our largeness and unpredictability, but there comes a time when we as Americans need to remember the words of Rhett Butler.

“Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”

Hope my opinions neither insult nor bore.

Cheers,

Trav
You do realize that the Marshall Plan was also a major propaganda machine, designed to Americanize Europe, don't you? Simple things like telling Germany that they'd not get the benefits of money/building/etc. if they didn't screen American movies.
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Old 23.10.2009, 07:57
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Re: My point of view

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Spoken like a typical Russian who wants to be Canadian.

You forgot "with a Swiss passport" there Natasha.


About the topic(s) though.

1. I agree that among different cultures different things are perceived as being polite. Some things are fairly universal ideals of proper behavior though, among them is respect to elderly, waiting your turn, keeping your body parts (and effluvia) to yourself.

Some things regarded as polite / proper though go by the way side as life becomes harsh.

By way of example, I offer the idea of waiting your turn and personal space: In areas where goods (including medical attention and food, or even simple "space") are scarce, it is not uncommon for people to resort to pushing and shoving to get their needs seen to. If this happens infrequently, the people in question have a hard time with it and it soon disrupts into angry confrontations... if (when?), on the other hand, it becomes common, people get used to it and no longer see it as an invasion of personal space.

2. Yelled at. This is something I have yet to encounter here. The one set of neighbors with whom we initially had problems are much more prone to sugar coat things than yelling. They put a personally written letter with some chocolates in our mailbox whenever something happens that they think needs our attention... so, yes, I mean they sugar coat everything.

On the other hand... my father was both physically and verbally abusive when I was a child. I do not handle being yelled at very well. As a result, if someone yells at me, I want to smack them and my frustration at the impropriety of doing so makes me cry. Rest assured, if I COULD smack you for yelling at me, I would do so without crying a drop. (If you want to be sure it is merely a risk of my tears rather than your teeth, don't yell at me. tyvm!)

3. Many of "us" (non-Swiss) come from areas of the world where commerce is a vital part of daily life. Just look at some of the answers you have been given.

Convenience, employment, economy.

I too enjoyed shopping for groceries at midnight (when the store was not quite empty of others), particularly on days when I worked until 9pm and due to commute time did not get home until 10 myself.

HOWEVER... NOT having those things available helps ensure that the majority of folks can have dinner (at a "proper" time) together as a family or with a group of friends. Folks can enjoy a relaxed Sunday without having to work (or do the shopping).

I happen to think that family life and personal time are much more valuable than the "almighty dollar" and have grown to take a dim view on Corporate Culture which places a higher importance on earning money than personal / family time... but I can see both sides of that coin.

4. America Bashing.
I think folks do it because they can. We make it easy for them. We believe in "freedom of speech" which does include bashing our own people, even including our most powerful.

We export shows which do not necessarily depict Americans in our best light. C'mon... Married with Children is not any more accurate a depiction of "real" American families than Hausmeister Krause is of Swiss / German families.

As someone else has said, not every American is from New York or LA or Chicago... some of us are and have the brash ballsy way that is depicted of city folks (NY and Chicago), some of us have the granola eating hippy lifestyle depicted of folks from California... most of us are somewhere in between though and A LOT like your neighbor, particularly since a very high percentage of families living in the US have at least one branch of their family that has fairly "recently" immigrated.

Some of the rest of the stuff regarding America Bashing is particularly hard for me. I see it from the viewpoint of a military brat. My father and brother (and many of the men and some of the women of my family) made themselves available, by voluntarily joining the military, to go where they are sent when they are called upon to do so.

Due to this, I may have a slightly skewed view of things, but this is what I see:
Because of our military might, we are called upon to go help settle violent disputes all over the world. Because of our economic power, we are called upon to help provide succor all over the world. Because we do these things, we are in public view... all over the world.

I think it makes sense for someone who is giving aid (in whatever means that aid takes) to do so in a manner which will provide advantage to them. It is odd that this is actually normal... but depicted as heinous for being "self serving."

You (empirical you, anyone "you"), in a dispute among two people, would help either the person who is already your friend, or, if you are friends to neither, would help the one who is most likely to provide something useful for you in return. This is normal. Why should a government (any government) do things any differently?

Meanwhile, again, we do believe in freedom of speech. So, we give voice to not only those who have been helped BUT also to those who are resentful that we helped "the other guy"... we give voice to those who think we didn't help them soon enough... we give voice to those who think we should have befriended and helped someone else because their political views are different from our own.

All these things make it easy to bash on America... even when the folks doing it would be put in jail for bashing their own leaders, we allow them to bash ours... it is in our constitution.


Finally, your English is much better than my German (or French or Italian), Swiss or otherwise. The small mistakes that are there give voice to your accent... your writing "sounds" just like my husband when he's speaking.
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Old 23.10.2009, 09:25
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Re: My point of view

Dear NoToM,

It must not be very pleasant for you to read all the complaining about Switzerland. Sorry about that. Must sound like the foreigners are one whiny bunch who don't like anything here - you must be wondering why we are even here if everything is so bad, right? But I would say that most EF members, a few exceptions there of course, actually really like Switzerland and the way things are here. Just that people don't start topics when everything is fine and they are generally happy - although you can find a few "what we love about Switzerland" threads as well.

Also, often when somebody complains about something, like local habits and understandings, it's not because we think it's wrong or somehow worse than in our original countries. It's just that we want to of course behave nicely and it is frustrating when we make mistakes because we simply did not know it is polite to ask if the seat is free, for example. It is very stressful to move to a new country where you don't know how things work; where to go to do something; what and how you should do etc. We're learning.
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