The Spirit Catches You & You Fall Down Reflection
The book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman has taught me a lot about cultural differences and how they can lead to conflicts, as well as the importance of cultural brokers. An important thing to note is that we are all human, we all have feelings, and we’re all going through challenges. Even between two people of the same culture, it can be difficult to be calm, understanding, and accepting. There being cultural differences can make it all the more challenging. A reason this is the case is because we are so used to our own culture and are often not very exposed or knowledgeable about others. Stereotypes can also worsen the situation, skewing reality. Cultural differences not only affect interactions with others, but it also can affect how we act and see ourselves. For example, in the Hmong culture the elders have a higher status, but when they arrived in the U.S. that was flipped. It was now the children who adults often relied on because the children could communicate better and had a better understanding of the U.S. Also, Foua felt that she was very stupid because none of her skills we very helpful to her in the U.S.
A lack of understanding of one another’s cultural differences can result in conflict. It can go extreme enough that it affects someone's health (physically and mentally) and medical care, like it did to Lia Lee. Not only was there the language barrier, but many terms couldn’t even be translated because there just wasn’t an understanding of certain things, such as organs. The Hmong also thought that sickness was a spiritual issue, whereas Americans do not. Cultural brokers are not just translators. They also help communicate the differences between the parties and they act as a mediator. While it can be very difficult, the goal is to find common ground.