When Davy Nguyen appeared on season three of Go Back To Where You Came From in 2015, he was a staunch opponent of boat people.
It was an astonishing view, given Nguyen travelled to Australia from Vietnam by boat when he was eight years old, however he was adamant that there was a "right way" to come to Australia. "I was a refugee, but I came here the right way. They're queue jumpers. To me, they're not genuine refugees," he said in 2015.
However these days, Nguyen has softened his views, thanks to what he calls, "one of the most defining moments of my life," when he boarded a boat with fellow participant Jodi Charman during the season's filming.
"On that boat that day, I looked out and it just gave me flashbacks and I was just shaking," he told SBS. "As an eight-year-old, down there, crying, helpless, getting sick."
Nguyen embarked on his own boat journey 35 years ago, when his father told him he was going to visit his grandparents. Instead, in his parents' desperate attempt to protect him, Nguyen "was placed on this boat with a lot of people who I didn’t know, leaving behind my dad, mum and three young brothers."
Reliving that traumatic experience on Go Back To Where You Came From helped remind Nguyen that his story is not that different to some of the world's 25.4 million refugees and 3.1 million asylum seekers.
"I realise that a lot of these refugees out there are similar to me. We are all human at the end of the day."
"I was hiding all of these feelings. I was trying to hide it. It just came back," he said, reflecting on his time in 2015. "That would be one of the defining moments in my life. I learned to let go. I accepted who I am. That I was once a refugee."
Today, Nguyen, who is a life coach and mentor, is also an advocate for refugees. "I've made it my mission that I want to do things to change the world. To change the government. To change politics," he said.
"Sometimes we forget where we come from. I realise that a lot of these refugees out there are similar to me. We are all human at the end of the day."
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