Somalia is Not India: The Importance of Cultural Competency


break boundaries

Spirit Catches You

I have started reading the book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, a story of a Hmong child and her encounters with the American medical system. As I read about the loyal social worker and her above and beyond commitment to Lia Lee’s family, I can’t help but think about my own experiences with a refugee.

For confidentiality reasons, I’ll call him Nadif, which means “between seasons” because in many ways, Nadif was always in a liminal stage. He escaped his war-torn country of Somalia through a sponsorship, along with his sister. Little is known about his mother and father — whenever I’ve asked him, he would go on a tangent about a blind man and suddenly start speaking both French and English.

Nadif was intelligent: he was trilingual (he spoke English, Somali, and French fluently), he had dreams of becoming a water engineer in Somalia and…

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