What do you think of when a man you barely know hugs you? During Plebe Summer 2005, I remember the excitement and enthusiasm I felt on completion of the zodiac event. I had no qualms reaching for my company mates with a strong hug (¡un gran abrazo!). In that moment, I sensed tremendous tension and confusion toward me over my natural inclination to embrace in a moment of euphoria as we completed a milestone. The curious question was blurted out with a stern stare: “What are you doing?”
We can punch each other in a ring, bleed over one another on the soccer field, and even do Brazilian jujitsu with each other across a wrestling mat. Yet a hug—an act of appreciation and love, one that is a common greeting among Hispanics—can send the wrong message, creating misperceptions and perceived, perhaps real, separation between individuals.