“From refugee to restaurateur, Pauline Nguyen has taken on risk and won. Her family fleeing communist Vietnam could easily have ended in tragedy.
Pauline Nguyen believes her heritage has shaped who she is. But for the refugee-turned-restaurateur, it doesn’t dictate her life.
“Certainly, events form the past shape who we are,” she said. “But also we have a choice. We have a choice to create our own culture and to create our own reality.”
In 1973, Pauline’s family fled Vietnam by boat, desperate to find a better life.
“My father smuggled myself and my brother Lewis out on a boat he built,” she said. “We spent 9 days out at sea, and ended up in Thailand in a refugee camp there where we spent quite a difficult year before Australia finally accepted us.
“My parents wanted a better future for their children. They wanted a better future for themselves, and they were willing to sacrifice their lives. My father had made the decision that if we died at sea, we would all die together. It’s that desperation of wanting freedom above all else.”
But life in Australia also had its challenges, as the family settled into the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta…”