Earlier this year, I took part in a fellowship designed for leaders of New York social service organizations. The fellowship and program lectures explored topics including cross-cultural competency, the changing demographics and needs of New York City’s population and coalition-building between organizations.
We were gifted a book titled The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman that details the experience of an immigrant Hmong family that attempts to navigate the medical system in Central California. The book alternates between a narrative about the Lee family, and historical and cultural information about the Hmong people.
The book is just shy of three hundred pages, and I’d strongly recommend reading at least the first 150. Not only are the Hmong a fascinating people, but the book poignantly illustrates the need for cultural competency and the acute challenges that face the medical establishment when dealing with minority and less-understood groups. (The opening chapters are quite humorous, as well.)
Let me know if you end up reading the book!
posted by amybetho