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The Moment You Can't Ignore by Barry Dornfeld, Malachi O'Connor

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Introduction

The Many Ways to Attend a Funeral

We first encountered a moment we could not ignore almost thirty years ago—at the funeral of a Hmong friend named Bee Lor. We weren’t in the highlands of southern China where the Hmong originated, or in Laos where they lived in refugee camps after fighting for the United States during the Vietnam War. We were in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the Hmong had immigrated in the 1970s—a place as familiar to us as it was unfamiliar to the Hmong.

At the time, we knew the funeral was an important moment but had no idea how important it would become for us today as we work with company after company facing challenges that are cultural at their core. In those Philadelphia days, we were training as ethnographers ...

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