RUSSIA (CBS Local) – Russians working at this year’s World Cup are getting a little extra job training: they’re reportedly being taught how to smile.

The BBC reports that certain groups of workers – many in the public transportation industry – are taking special courses on how to greet and behave around tourists arriving to see the soccer tournament. “Russian Railways, FIFA and the Moscow Metro are conducting special training to teach their staff to be more polite and helpful to foreign visitors,” the BBC explains.

Why do Russians need a course on smiling?

Unlike other European nations, smiling is not an expression frequently used in Russian culture. One Russian woman interviewed by the BBC told reporters that she was once questioned by a police officer because they found it strange that she was smiling in public.

A Russian proverb roughly translated into English by The Atlantic states, “laughing for no reason is a sign of stupidity.”

In an effort to create a new perception of the Russian people, state officials are working to give their citizens a more cheerful appearance before their guests get the wrong impression. According to the Russian news agency TASS, 1.5 million tourists are expected to flood into the nation for the month-long event which begins on June 14.

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