Chapters 7 & 8

Chapters 7 and 8 were really helpful in getting a better understanding of the Hmong perspective. After reading our last few chapters, I had a hard time seeing the issues from the Lee families point of view. I was becoming biased towards what I know, Western medicine, and was getting frustrated with the Lee family as the doctors were. The previous chapters made it seem like the doctors were doing everything they could and that it was the Hmong who needed to change. Chapters 7 and 8 helped me to see what the Lee’s saw and felt and feel more compassion towards them.

Chapter 7 started by providing insight on Dr. Ernst’s decision to report the Lee’s to CPS. A quote that I thought really showed the difficulty of this decision was: “Which would have been more discriminatory, to deprive Lia of the optimal care that another child would have received, or to fail to tailor her treatment in such a way that her family would most likely be able to comply with it?” (pg. 78) Looking at it this way, I understand the doctor’s dilemma. However, the rest of Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 show how much the Lee’s loved their daughter, and how small changes in the typical Western care could have lead to huge changes for Lia. Instead, they continued to push methods that were not productive until eventually, they were able to simplify her medication and reunite her with her family.

The parts of these chapters that I found most important were about the Lee’s experience as immigrants. As the Lee’s went through difficult relationships with both the doctors and the CPS workers, their experience was described as being “confused and enraged when they are stripped of their power in a country to which they have fled because of its reputation for freedom” (pg. 84). This statement is a powerful description of the Hmong experience but also the experience of immigrants in the US in general. Immigrants are marginalized and treated as the “other”, and the experience of this discrimination alone affects their health. In Foua’s experience as an immigrant, none of the skills she had in Laos transferred over to the United States. One of her only transferable skills, being a mother, was taken from her when CPS declared her a child abuser. Despite being a skilled farmer in Laos, Foua’s lack of skills in the US makes her feel stupid and leads to self-deprecation. This could come from internalization of American’s perception of immigrants, which can also be harmful to a person’s wellbeing.

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