Chapters 1 & 2

The novel starts off explaining many fascinating traditions that the Hmong woman follow when trying to conceive up until birthing a child. Being a refugee from Laos, it was not until her 14th child that Foua gave birth in a hospital. This experience was very peculiar to her. The story then backtracks to the beginning. The Hmong never had an interest in interacting or taking power from the Chinese, all they wanted was to be left alone. They were never truly left alone as the Chinese tried to contain and control them. Finally, we are able to conclude that the Hmong do not like to surrender and will do anything to avoid that. From the anecdotes of people who have interacted with Hmong people, they seem to be very kind men who have preserved and always survived the hardships.

I found all of the Hmong traditions to be absolutely fascinating. They have a reason and a solution for everything regarding a newborn baby. If something is wrong with the baby they know the external cause and then proceed to fix it. I think that Foua was so surprised when giving birth in a hospital because of how different the treatment is there. When Foua gave birth in her home she was alone and was able to solely care for the child, but when in a hospital the doctors and nurses have other things they are doing and therefore do not put as much compassion into the care. Giving birth alone in her home, Foua focused all of her efforts on her beliefs, while this was not possible in a hospital. I think mothers who gave birth centuries ago would agree that the hospital has made births a lot less “magical”. Having only had experiences of births in the U.S. and having been born in the U.S. it is all I know so I personally have nothing to compare it to.

Furthermore, I thought the phrase “hais cuaj txub kaum txub” was enlightening. The idea that no event occurs in isolation might be something we assume but never stop to actually think about. Just how people in our life are connected, the things that we do and the actions in our life are all intertwined. I believe that especially in this modern/technological world, we are so focused on what is next that we do not take time to step back and look at the big picture. We do not allow ourselves to notice how intertwined everything truly is.

Finally, I found it interesting how the Hmong people never cared to rule over the Chinese and were not a culture based on power. I think the fact that they all shared common rituals and goals allowed them to become such a tight, unique community. I think it is important for us, a culture of people that revolve around power, to step back and look at how we can all be equal and caring and form a civilized community without all of the politics and power that we experience every day.

I look forward to reading more about the Hmong culture!

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One thought on “Chapters 1 & 2

  1. I thought you made a really interesting point about the phrase “has cuaj tub kaum txub”, the idea that no event occurs in isolation. You mentioned that everything in our life is intertwined, but we rarely take a step back and look at the big picture. I think the American culture has more recently has created a huge push for college students to continuously move forward in life. In a book a recently read called “What Made Maddy Run”, the author discusses how Maddy, a cross country runner at UPenn, had such high expectations set for herself that when she did fail she was not able to handle the situation. Maddy was continuously trying to achieve everything, instead of taking a step back to actually appreciate her life and opportunities. Maddy’s life ends in tragedy, as she takes her own life during her freshman year of college. I think this book exemplifies the detriments of such pressures on college students, and that instead of continuing this drive for perfection and success, we could take a step back and learn from other cultures.

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