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Austin woman tells of trail to America

By Karen Colbenson

kcolbenson@postbulletin.com

At age 28, Lan Nguyen made a decision that would change the course of her life.

In disguise and without a word to even her family, she boarded a boat and left Vietnam.

It was 1987.

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For more than six months, her family had no idea what happened to her.

But Nguyen knew she was doing what she had to do in order to survive. She was escaping communism, escaping a life of perpetual slavery.

She craved the power of choice and knew she would find it in America.

When the boat trip did not go as planned, the freedom-bound woman found herself on a Philippine island passing the days with school and work, waiting for the next opportunity to come along.

When one did, she grabbed it and never looked back.

Until now.

Hers is a story of faith and hope. It is a story of brave woman who knew what she wanted and what it may cost her to get it, but went after it anyway. It is a story of a dream to live a better life in a better place where people have a say in their own destiny. It is a story of a human soul who stared death in the face in exchange for a mere chance of freedom.

In putting her foot down, she stepped away from a country under communist control and began walking toward her own liberation.

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And once she stepped onto America soil, she learned that the journey was not over.

Through the many twists and turns of life, Nguyen has had to start over again and again. In America, she had to learn English, get a job, buy a house and learn to live on her own.

After her house burned down, she had to rebuild it.

When her mother died of cancer, she had to rebuild herself.

There were times of sheer loneliness, when she longed to see her family, but she kept moving forward until the day came when her family could be together again.

And through it all, she remained hopeful and grateful for what has been and what is yet to come.

This is her story.

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