Migrant thanks a a lucky country
By TEGAN BOOTH
AUSTRALIA is the "lucky country", an Ipswich man who goes by the name of Luck knows well.
Savannalack Choummanivong, or "Luck" to most people, escaped a life of political persecution in his native Laos in 1978 and moved to Australia. This Australia Day he will be reflecting on what his new country has given him. Since immigrating, Mr Choummanivong has learned a new language, gained four university degrees and learned to call his new country home.
Now he works for Goodna Neighbourhood House helping others become Australian citizens as he did in 1981.
Mr Choummanivong loves the opportunities and friendliness in Australia but said he realised his fondness for the country years after he arrived.
"(It) really hit me hard in 1983 when Australia won the Americas Cup... I heard Men at Work (sing Down Under) and it nearly brought me to tears," Mr Choumannivong said.
The country has given him the education he said he could not have gained in Laos. He completed Year 10 at the age of 22.
Since then he has earned a Bachelor of Mathematics in Statistics, post-graduate degrees in education, social planning and social administration and a Certificate IV in Workplace Assessment.
He was 19 when he left Laos, which had been taken over by a communist regime.
He spent seven months in a refugee camp in Thailand before sponsorship by his brother, who was studying in Australia, allowed him to immigrate here.
While Australia was Mr Choummanivong's first choice destination, he said he and his fellow refugees could not be picky.
"Sometimes it is not a matter of choice," he said. "Basically you just want to get out of (the) refugee camp anywhere you can."
Now he calls Australia home.