Hmong Immigration

1987 Words8 Pages
Many immigrants have an extremely difficult time migrating to different parts of the world due to cultural differences, language barriers, and homesickness. Nowadays, there are translators and help available for those that are migrating from different countries. However, what if someone had migrated to the United States and barely had any of that support? The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is an incredibly touching book speaking of the struggle of the Hmong immigrants and the walls that were built between them and Americans, particularly the American doctors and medical system. The book focuses on a particular child, Lia Lee, and her family - specifically her parents, Foua Yang and Nao Kao Lee. The book starts from when Lia Lee was still…show more content…
There were many barriers that they had to overcome, and the barriers between the American doctors and MCMC - Mercy Community Medical Center - and the Lees were enormous, both the language barriers and the cultural barriers. Additionally, the Hmong didn’t have modern medicine when they lived in Laos, and had their own medicinal herbs and practices to keep away diseases, their own ethnomedicine. The book discusses all of these topics in great…show more content…
Family and group solidarity are important to the Hmong, yet they were forced to split apart during their journey to America. The Hmong also partook in ceremonies, dances, and sacrifices that were important to them and their religion, however, the doctors and other people were wary of these practices and didn’t condone them, especially when it came to patients such as Lia Lee. Lee’s doctors were constantly giving her shots, medicine, and feeding her through tubes. Her parents didn’t approve of this at all and thought that the medicines they were giving her was what was killing her. Her father, Nao Kao Lee, was especially enraged on two occasions. One, when the doctors were performing a spinal tap on Lia, he said that was when “Lia was lost”, as the Hmong believed that procedure would cripple her in this life and her future lives . The second occasion was when he misunderstood that he had to sign a paper that stated that Lia would die in two hours, when it fact “released in two hours” was what was written. “In the Hmong moral code, foretelling a death is strongly taboo.”, and so Nao Kao grabbed his daughter and ran. He was caught afterwards, but these scenarios show that the Hmong had a strong sense of values that the doctors weren’t able to understand and both parties were at a disadvantage. As Fadiman states “The customs they were expected to follow seemed so
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