Role of Cross-cultural Misunderstanding in Ruining Lia’s Life
Lia is born of a loving Hmong family, and just three months into her life, begins to reveal epileptic symptoms. According to the Hmong community, the condition is curable, and the presence of spirits in such a patient’s soul is considered a blessing. However, American doctors in a community medical center fail to understand and appreciate Lia’s parents’ approach to the child’s disease, and are only interested in saving this child’s life. As the conflict develops, it becomes apparent that the child will not be healed; but this is not without the doctors realizing the importance of compromise. In this book, Anne Fadiman claims, “I have come to believe that her [Lia’s] life…show more content… This sequence of events is an affirmation that the doctors ought to have given a chance to the Shamans, whose initial contribution might have ensured a normal life for the girl.
Language barrier was a major factor that served to extend the boundary existing between the two cultures. Some of the utterances made by the doctors were interpreted right but were understood wrongly (Swartz 2). This resulted in a worsened discernment of the American doctors by the Lees and Hmong as an entity alike. In the case of an emergency, the Lees needed to contact an ambulance, but could not communicate with the hospital. This necessitated the involvement of their learned nephew, who would call an ambulance. The interpretation process would at times limit the effectiveness of the message intended by either party. For instance, when Lia was undergoing critical care in MCMC, the Lees needed to be comforted, a process which had to be done by an interpreter. Before the final discharge, miscommunication between Lia’s mother and the doctors had her think that the nurses disconnected medicine tubes off Lia in order to give it to some other patient; a mean act. In the same incident, Lia’s father was made to sign a letter of discharge for Lia, which would happen in two hours. However, he understood this as a letter to guarantee death in two