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Cat Thao Nguyen - We Are Here


Wed 25 Feb 2015, 12:30pm–1:30pm

Where: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Central & CBD, New South Wales

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Tom Keneally Centre Reading

Cat Thao Nguyen recounts the poignant and compelling story of her family’s horrific flight from persecution in Vietnam on foot across the killing fields of Cambodia, and their life as new migrants in 1980s Australia.

The escape of Cat Thao’s family from persecution traverses the horrific jungles of Khmer Rouge Cambodia and into the crowded Thai refugee camps from which, finally, the Nguyens were allowed to board a Qantas plane to a freedom they desperately wanted. But the stark, contrasting suburban landscapes of Western Sydney were not the unalloyed blessing they had imagined.

About We Are Here
Told through the bright and unflinching eyes of Cat Thao Nguyen, a girl born in a refugee camp, We Are Here is a memoir that begins in 1975 with her family’s gripping exodus by foot out of post-war Vietnam — a dangerous journey, unimaginable to most, on which many perished.

Against the backdrop of an immigrant experience, Cat Thao tells of her coming of age in Australia, haunted by lingering trauma but buoyed by instincts of hope, reinvention and survival. In a voice both candid and striking, Cat Thao details her struggles with growing up: from her bad skin and hairy legs, to Vietnamese mysticism and kinship, and bound throughout by familial loyalty and honour.

With wit and poignancy, We Are Here explores an Australia of the 80s and 90s, and a family’s tireless journey for peace through a young woman’s absolute determination to find her place.

Guest Speaker
Cat Thao Nguyen is an Australian writer and lawyer. She was born in Thailand to Vietnamese parents and grew up in Western Sydney. Cat Thao is married to Tony, a Canadian Chinese man whom she met at a sushi bar in Vietnam. She has held a number of advisory and board positions including with the 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. She has dabbled in filmmaking and theatre but unfortunately has never played the violin or piano. Cat Thao has keen interests in the arts, economics and the development of the leadership role of women in emerging economies like Vietnam. She is particularly passionate about quality fish sauce and Australian shiraz.

Free – Bookings Are Essential.
Book on 02 9262 7300 OR