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Breaking down expectations part of officers job

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FARGO - Vince Kempf's job is to get to know people from different cultures.

He is the cultural liaison officer for the Fargo Police Department.

Kempf said, "Building relationships is the solution, but the hard part for people is making the first step."

Kempf thought it might be a good idea to learn the languages of the different cultures of the Fargo residents he encounters. Kempf decided to learn Nepali because it's a language spoken by Bhutanese people, the largest new American population in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

"I can tell you it's a difficult language to learn," Kempf said.

He said a person doesn't have to be fluent in the language to have a positive effect.

"You say, namaste. That starts it off right there. In Somali say, setahay? (how are you?), and if you are doing well you say, waan fiicanahay."

Kempf said he thinks knowing some greetings would be a better way of initiating contact.

"I would not say immediately, where are you from?" Kempf said when someone asks them that question they may think this person might not like the country they are from.

"You could talk about the weather like normal people do." Once you build a rapport, he says you can ask where they are from because you are interested.

Kempf said he's tried to learn greetings in numerous languages, but he's concentrating mainly on Nepali.

"Show that you're a little adventurous in trying," Kempf said. "Even when you don't know a lot, when you say a few words in their language showing that you're reaching out to them, they realize you're making an effort. I think it's a good way to open up." 

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