April 1984, I arrived in Australia and stayed at Enterprise Hostel, Springvale in Melbourne. A week later, a religious Sister took me home to a six-bedroom Burwood parish house that accommodated thirteen Catholic Vietnamese refugees and me – a Buddhist. But wait there’s more!
Arriving in Australia from a Malaysian refugee camp in April 1984, I stayed at a six-bedroom parish house in Burwood, Victoria together with thirteen other Vietnamese refugees. On Christmas Day that year, when I was alone in the house, the parish priest took me along to an Australian parishioner’s house and I had my very first Australian Christmas lunch there. It was a frosty lunch as no one spoke a word to me. More than thirty years later, I still wonder why those Australians were cold to me. But wait therre’s more!
I was paralysed with fear and sat through the meeting with my lab manager, looking down at the floor, saying nothing, until there was a long silence and we left the room.
I wanted to talk to someone about the stress I was enduring but also was afraid they couldn’t keep it secret, sparking uncontrollable rumours in the office.
I ended up keeping everything to myself. But wait there’s more!