Cultural Awareness & Appreciation for Medical Care


It is important for us to understand Hmong’s political history specifically the history of the Hmong’s involvement in the proxy war in Lao’s because it helps to further explain Lee’s family experience of healthcare in the United States. Much like myself I don’t think many Americans were aware of the prominent role that those of Hmong culture played in the Vietnam War (Fadiman, 1997: 140).This could be part of the reason that many Americans are not open to understanding the culture differences between the Hmong and Americans. First I have to express my gratitude for the Hmong culture. It was deeply and amazingly regretful to know that the Hmong were fighting in war for less. “What we are getting for our money is, to use the old phrase, very cost-effective.” Upon first reading this statement I was not sure of what was meant until reading the breakdown stating that the pay, living, and even treatment was far less from what Americans received. I think this war experience has shaped the way in which Hmong refugees in America live today.

Recognizing that the Hmong had helped and fought in war for Americans it is hard to understand why the United States would treat Hmong refugees as if they are foreign and not as heroes. Understanding and reading about the Lee’s experience with the American healthcare system, I can recognize why the Lee’s do not trust the American healthcare system. From my understanding America recruited the Hmong to fight their war and left the Hmong to figure out things by themselves as if the Hmong did not fight for the country. From the readings I recognize that Hmong are fighters who don’t back down. I think that from fighting and being strong in the war they expected America to have gratitude and at least help them with recovery.

From this week’s lecture we were able to get a brief understanding of what it is like to be a refugee and I must say the snippet is an eye opener to understanding other cultures. My advice or recommendation for improving healthcare for refugees arriving in the United States and living after refugee camps would be to respect every culture as if it is your own. I would also suggest being a little more empathetic seeing as this is a new environment for the refugees. As we all can agree it is important not to withhold medical treatment to those seeking it. We must also consider their cultural and spiritual norms when providing care. It is important to remember that they are “just refugees but [they] are human beings like any doctor too,” (Gabriel, 2016). From researching further I now question why as a privileged country we have to distribute healthcare unfairly? I would assume that healthcare access and treatment should be the same for all citizens regardless of how you obtained citizenship.

Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997.

International Justice Resource  Center. “Asylum & the Rights of Refugees.” Accessed August 7, 2016.



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