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I arrived in Canada as a refugee 30 years ago and I still feel like I’m catching up on time lost

Posted on: May 27, 2021

The concept of time lost is familiar to many of us, especially with the pandemic: it is the time when our lives get off course. We envision an ideal life for ourselves and make plans. However, fate deals us new realities — whether we like them or not — and we can only do our best to live through them with dignity, and never give up.

I have experienced many hardships. I grew up during the Vietnam War, witnessed the communist takeover, and lived for many years as a refugee and immigrant. Often not knowing what the future would bring, I tried my best and always had hope for a better tomorrow.

I am finally where I want to be, doing the things I wanted to do. But I often look back at my troubled past, and I feel that I am racing, trying to make up for lost time.  

Growing up, I liked art, drawing and playing the guitar. But my childhood was enveloped by war. I was only 16 when the final assault on the capital of South Vietnam started. The fall of Saigon in 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War, resulting in a total communist victory. 

I took basic evening courses in accounting, which allowed me to earn some money, but overall lived a miserable life under the communist government policies, wasting my youthful energy. I felt I achieved nothing. 

Thousands of Vietnamese who refused to live under the communist system fled the country in search of freedom. I attempted to escape my homeland several times. Eventually, I succeeded.  

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