My name is Su Khaing Toe Aye and I’m from a refugee camp in Thailand called Mae La refugee camp. I was born in the camp in 1992 and I came to Australia in 2007. My nationality is Karen, one of the largest ethnic groups in Burma (now called Myanmar). Karen people have their own language and culture. Many Karen people live in Thailand refugee camps because of the war and the conflict happening in Burma.

Waiting to come to Australian took us a long time, and we had to go through an interview process and medical (health) check. When I arrived in Australia, I had heard of the name of the place but I had no clue of where it was or where they were going to take me. Looking at the landscape here, it was so different to where I came from, and the roads, buildings, and the smell and structure of Australian houses were all different, and felt like this is a whole new world to me.

The first day of secondary school was very scary and lonely because I didn’t know the language so I couldn’t communicate, and the only other Karen student in the school is my sister. It might be the hardest journey for me but the support here is amazing. On my first day of the secondary school I already had a friend who was willing to support me through my transition. We also have a nearby church community who really help and support us, and we also have a caseworker who sets up things for us, like doctor’s appointments and Centrelink.

Coming to Australia has been very strange, but now I’m doing Bachelor of Nursing at the Mt Helen campus and the support here is very extraordinary. I look forward to the future and my life in Australia!


By Su Khaing Toe Aye