AwareNow: Issuu 17: The United Edition

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Page 73

‘GO GREEN DRESS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY THI NGUYEN

REFLECTIONS OF A REFUGEE

FINDING GRATITUDE IN STORIES OF STRUGGLES

There are moments in our lives when we are at a crossroad not knowing which direction we will go and how we will get there. Oftentimes it is not a choice we make but by chance we end up somewhere unexpected taking us on this adventure called life.

As I flip through the pages of my journey thus far, I feel extremely grateful for all that life has presented itself. Through the sorrows I have discovered a profound sense of gratitude. Through the losses I have uncovered immense strength. Through the pain I am blessed with a tribe of wonderful human beings that continues to support me with each passing moment.

I guess you can say I am extremely lucky…

Lucky to have made it this far.

Lucky to have this life.

Lucky to breathe this air.

Lucky to be alive.

My story could have been completely different if my parents didn't decide to escape our country in the middle of the night. Traveling aimlessly out at sea in hopes of reaching a safe haven in a foreign land where they didn’t understand the language and not knowing if we would survive. Or if my mother and I perished at sea, were murdered by pirates or unable to reunite with my father and sisters - as hundreds of thousands have experienced.

For those who do not understand the flights of refugees, ask yourself this:

Who in their right frame of mind would leave everything behind, to take a journey they are uncertain they will survive to a destination they do not know if they will be accepted or make it out alive?

Only those who are desperate enough to put themselves, their kids and loved ones in danger for a better future ahead.

I am one of those kids that survived.

Every time I look at the ocean I thank my lucky stars and am extremely grateful for my parents in their decision to leave behind their own family to find us a better future. I am thankful for their sacrifice to go on a dangerous journey where millions perish so we can be where we are today. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I am reminded of this journey and I realize that life for me is not that bad.

In 2008, I left my cushy corporate job and worked for an NGO overseas helping to repatriate Vietnamese refugees who were stuck since the refugee camps closed down. They were left in a country where they did not understand the language, did not have rights or access to the local benefits and had to figure out a way to survive.

73 AWARENOW / THE UNITED EDITION

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