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Tan Le

In their own words

Recorded 2018

Tan Le
Audio: 2 minutes

My family left Vietnam in 1981. My mother took my sister and I out on a little boat into the South China Sea. We didn’t know – at least she didn’t know – where we were going to end up. But what she did know was that she wanted to give us a chance for a better future.

It’s been an amazing journey and as I reflect on that personal story, I realise how fortunate we’ve been and how important Australia’s stance when it comes to embracing new people has been, for not only for the strength of our society and our community, but also in terms of taking ownership and responsibility for our place in the world as well. Because these were pivotal moments, historical moments, where we had a choice in terms of our participation, how we wanted to be involved and I think it was amazing that we did that because now I’m here as a very proud Australian.

I have always sought to find a way to contribute at the highest contribution value for my own unique set of experiences and perspectives. And at each point in my life, I’ve really been very reflective of what kind of trajectory would that result in and how do I steward in a future for myself and for the community that really creates a better world and a better place.

Of course, I feel very blessed with the choices I’ve made. But at the same time I think it has been very intentional. I have never really let anything happen to chance, and of course you can’t control for all variables in your life but there’s some core tenets in there that I think I’ve really been very cognisant of in terms of shaping. And I think that we choose our own path in life. I hope that I’ll keep feeling the sense of courage to keep exploring and to pushing myself. There’s always a fear that as you get older, you stop being as daring, but so far it hasn’t happened. So, fingers crossed.

Acknowledgements

This recording was made during interviews for the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Stories series.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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