I guess in America we aren't so paranoid about strangers. Most "strangers" are just normal people to whom we haven't yet been introduced.
Especially in the South, almost everyone smiles and says "hey" in passing.
Last night, on our way home from church, Hubby and I were in Walmart buying our peanut oil for Thanksgiving. A middle-aged Lowcountry black man started chatting with us about deep frying turkey, oil prices, etc. We had a very pleasant chat with him, a "stranger."
Same thing happens when we wait in lines, ride buses, shop, whatever, we chat with "strangers."
When I work on campus, I greet lots of people, staff, students, vendors, restroom cleaners, yard workers, etc. Many "strangers" come up to me and ask for directions (for some reason, I must look like I know where I'm going).
In this area, it's considered rude not to at least smile at people passing by.
Yes, I was talking about my missionary friends, so I don't know why you made the direct reference.
When they first came to America, they landed at the airport. That's how they arrived. Either way, the boy noticed many Americans whom he didn't know ("strangers") smiling at him and his family.
He wasn't saying it to be rude; it was a natural question.
Hmm, that's very conflicting information. If the children that you know only know "friendly", "nice" or "lovely" people, then why are they afraid to talk to strangers?
Maybe they aren't confused about "friendly" and "flirting" because they never see friendly smiles from strangers in their community. They might be confused if they come to America.
BTW, that wasn't the first time I heard about the difference between Europeans and Americans. That's just one example.