Assimilation: The Drawbacks of Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings

1529 Words 7 Pages
The author of the book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, Anne Fadiman exhibits a story about the collision between two cultures and the way things affected the character’s lives. The main character, Lia, is found grasped in a dilemma within her family’s culture and the American lifestyle. Since a baby, Lia suffered form epileptic seizures, which were viewed as a positive trait for the Hmong community; those people who suffered from seizures were credited to be a twix neeb, in other words, “a person with healing spirit” (Fadiman 21). Lia’s parents Mr. and Mrs. Lee, were having a difficult time comprehending the seriousness of the epilepsies that Lia was …show more content…
According to Derrick Jersen, an environmental activist, “if the culture moves, it must adapt itself to the will of the locality, or it will consume the locality and the locality will die, on a finite planet, that the culture will die as well” (334). Conforming to Jersen’s view, the Lee family needed to adapt to the American culture in order to maintain their values and beliefs intact. Adaptation was the most difficult thing the Lee family had to do. The Hmong background made them believe in a certain way, for example they only trusted spiritual healing, and their lifestyles were very different than the mainstream Americans. In order to adapt, the Lees would have had to first learn and speak the English language, which they were not familiar with. Unfortunately, the language barrier was one of the most imperative aspects that the Lees had to cope with. During the unfortunate times in which Lia began to suffer from seizures caused by her epilepsy, there were major misunderstandings with the doctors due to the language barrier. The first time Lia had a seizure, October 24 1982, her parents took her to the emergency room with the hopes that an American doctor could help. Sadly, by the time they arrived at the hospital the seizures had ended and there was no interpreter available at that time, so the Lees had no form of communication to inform the
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