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Cat Thao Nguyen Presents 'We Are Here' at Tom Keneally Centre

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by Mila Wood (subscribe)
I work in the Finance department of a media company, and someone who dabbles in writing of any genre.
A compelling story of determination courage and bravery
Most of us are born or brought up in a relatively conflict-free country and have never had the experience on what's it's like to be forced to uproot oneself or the whole family from one's country of birth.

There are various reasons for someone to make such drastic and life changing decisions. It may be politically inclined or a fear of persecution. Nevertheless, for most who choose to escape, they still endure unimaginable sufferings while chasing their freedom.

Once they arrive in their adoptive country and freedom is at the grasp of their hand, a new journey towards a better life begins. But there may be language barriers, cultural differences, difficulty obtaining employment and a myriad of other things that migrants may need to deal with.

I myself migrated to this country when I was young. Hence, I have first-hand experience and I am fully aware of the struggle of having to learn and understand a different culture.I am very lucky that I was brought up in a household where English was the second language. Although at first, I had difficulty understanding the Australian accent, I communicated quite well.

Can you imagine having to settle to a new home and to a different country where you can't speak the language and everything in your eyes is different ? Understanding the currency for a start will be difficult. Forming a friendship can be challenging. Hence, assimilating can be quite daunting.

So here is a compelling story told through the bright and unflinching eyes of guest speaker Cat Thao Nguyen, who was born in a refugee camp. On Wednesday, 25 February 2015 from 12:30pm 1:30pm, Cat Thao will present her book "We Are Here" at the Tom Keneally Centre. "We Are Here" is Cat Thao's family memoir. In the book she recounts her family's horrific expedition, travelling by foot out of post-war Vietnam to escape persecution. Then across the killing field of Cambodia, unto the hands of Khmer Rouge, and into the crowded Thai refugee camps. A perilous unimaginable journey in which many have perished.

Finally the moment that they have been waiting for, boarding a Qantas plane heading to their new homeland. In 1980 the family settled life as new migrants in Western Sydney. Cat Thao shares her experience of growing up in Australia and although she is still haunted by the trauma that she suffered, she is also full of hope, reinvention and survival.

She will recount her struggle of growing up with a bad skin and hairy legs. She will tell of her family's loyalty, honour and the Vietnamese mysticism and kinship. Delivered with great wit and poignancy, "We Are Here" will give you a view on how Australia was defined in the 80's and the 90's.

Cat Thao Nguyen is an Australian writer and lawyer who was born in Thailand to a Vietnamese parents and grew up in Western Sydney. She has impressively held a number of advisory and board positions which includes Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Ethnic Communities' Council of New South Wales, Australian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam and the Loreto Vietnam Australia Program, an Australian charity.

Cat Thao has always been a great lover of arts, economics, and the development of the leadership role of women in emerging economies like Vietnam. She is apparently passionate on good quality fish sauce and Australian Shiraz. Cat Thao is married to Tony, a Canadian Chinese man who she met at a sushi bar in Vietnam.

This event will open your eyes and perhaps help you understand the struggle that refugee migrants go through when they are driven away from their seemingly perfect country.

So mark 25th of February on your calendar, and hear the amazing story of Cat Thao Nguyen. The event is free but bookings are essential. BOOK on 02 9262 7300 OR email The venue is located at Tom Keneally Centre.

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Why? Hear the amazing journey of Cat Thao Nguyen
When: 25 of Feb 2014 12:30PM to 1:30PM
Phone: 02 9262 7300
Where: 280 Pitt St, Sydney. Level 3
Cost: Free
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