In this year’s All School Read, Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, the Lees, a family of Hmong refugees, try to navigate Western medical culture to find help for their daughter Lia. Doctors diagnose Lia with severe epilepsy; the Lees believe that her soul is lost and trying to find its way back. The family’s story is interwoven with remarkable accounts of Hmong history and culture. Over the course of the year we will wrestle together with questions raised by the text about health care, religion, and cross-cultural interaction.
This past weekend we engaged stories of refugee experiences. Our chief goal was to cultivate students’ imaginations, to practice empathy. If empathy is to be more than vague sentimentalism, it requires deep engagement with details and specifics of experiences and perspectives other than our own. We began the weekend with a presentation by Diane M. Randolph, Director of the Community Building Unit of the MA Office for Refugees and Immigrants. Saturday morning we watched a film about Sudanese refugees, God Grew Tired Of Us. Finally, students were divided into small discussion groups with faculty moderators to discuss features of the presentation, the film, and the book.
Written by Anonymous on September 25th 2012