Day 159: Tan Le- My immigration story.

In this beautiful and moving talk Tan Le tells the story of the women of her family, who escaped the communist rule of Vietnam on a boat, eventually setting in Footscray, Melbourne.
It is a story of two worlds; the first, an immigrant’s life, where she and her mother and sister shared a bed and Le worked hard to rise above the racial taunts and poverty she experienced. The second is the world she found herself in, as a law graduate and activist who somehow discovered that she could take a leap out of her situation, and while the world might fall apart, the results would surprise her.
We are all influenced by our past. In Tan Le’s case, she was the same age as her mother was when boarding the boat in Vietnam, when she was suddenly catapulted into the spotlight as Young Australian of the Year. This led to invites to people’s homes and requests for her to speak. When she was afraid, her mother reminded her not to be what she wasn’t. No wasn’t an option. This is something Le wishes to pass onto her own children.
This talk is also a timely reminder of the successful lives cultivated by many refugees in Australia, the challenges they face and their story. We must remember that it is perfectly legal for people to arrive by boat to seek asylum, under U.N conventions. In 2010, Australia accepted just over 8000 refugee applications, in comparison with Canada’s 23000 and the U.S.A’s 55000. We sit 47th in the world table for number of refugees hosted. In fact, one could do worse than looking at some other myths debunked on the refugee council website. Lets continue the work of Tan Le and others in making life better for refugees.


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