1. The only American who fully won the Lees’ trust was Jeanine Hilt, their social worker. Why did Jeanine succeed where so many others had failed?
2. Neil Ernst says, “I felt it was important for these Hmongs to understand that there were certain elements of medicine that we understood better than they did and that there were certain rules they had to follow with their kids’ lives.” Why didn’t this message get through to the Lees? If you were Neil, would you feel this way too? Is this an ethnocentric attitude? Why or why not?
3. In Chapter Eight, after describing Foua’s competence as a mother and farmer in Laos, Fadiman quotes her as saying, “I miss having something that really belongs to me.” What has Foua lost? Is there anything that still “really belongs” to her? Are there other groups we have discussed that have experience similar loss?
4. In her preface, the author says that while she was working on this book, she often asked herself two questions: “What is a good doctor?” “What is a good parent?” How do you think she might have answered her own questions? How would you answer them? How is each identity constructed by each group. Which social construction is taken more seriously in the United States? Why?
5. What was the “role loss” many adult Hmong faced when they came to the United States? What is the underlying root cause? How does this loss affect their adjustment to America?
1. How do you think the issues raised by this book should affect your education at Purdue and/or your life as a citizen today?
2. What relevance does this book have to your potential career (i.e., medicine, health, law, social work, politics, religion, communications, education, linguistics)? In the context of your future career, how do you think you would handle similar situations, if faced with them?