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WHEN South Australia's Governor Hieu
Van Le fled war-torn Vietnam with his
young wife Lan, it was a school lesson in
geography that helped save their lives.
Making his first formal school address at the
Trinity College Valedictory Service in Evan-
ston South on Thursday, Governor Le shared
the story of his dangerous journey to Australia
with students, staff and guests.
"After the fall of Saigon and the end of the
Vietnam War, it was estimated nearly two mil-
lion Vietnamese fled the country," he said.
"Less than half of them survived the jour-
"Lan and I spent a lot of time agonising over
the future and what to do; eventually, we had
no choice but to decide to leave the country."
Telling no-one but their close family, and
even them at the last minute, the pair set off
for international waters, sharing a small fish-
ing boat, made for 20, with 50 others.
Governor Le said they were expecting to
reach a line in the open sea where there would
be many ships and they would be "picked up
"We waited for two days but we saw noth-
ing," he said.
"The fisherman told us that he didn't know
where to go from there because that's the first
time he ever went on this trip in his life.
"And, he said, 'you have to tell me where to
go from here'."
The group searched for an answer while the
boat sailed around in circles, but it was Gover-
nor Le who finally put forward a solution.
"I had a pen and piece of paper and some of
my geographic lessons," he said.
"I drew a rough map of Vietnam and South-
east Asia and then I looked where on the ho-
rizon the sun set and where the sun rose and
I asked the people to confirm the location of
This basic guide saw the little fishing boat
reach the coast of Malaysia two days later.
"For that very simple and small success,
people then asked me to become the naviga-
tor of the boat," he said.
From Malaysia, Governor Le and his wife
set off on another journey that eventually led
them to Darwin Harbour, where they were
greeted by fishermen with a "G'day, mate,
welcome to Australia".
Speaking to the Trinity College students last
week, Governor Le wished them well in their
He said perhaps some of the lessons they
would take away from school, like his geogra-
phy lesson, could save their life one day.
first school address
South Australia's Governor Hieu Van Le made his rst formal school address at the Trinity College
Valedictory Service in Evanston South on Thursday,
PHOTO: Alec Urquhart
photos, page 16
AGED care centre Bellevue Court will
be officially opened today by South
Australian Governor Hieu Van Le.
The 80-bed facility, which features in-
dividual en-suite rooms, lounge areas and
private rooms, was opened to residents in
Southern Cross Care chief executive
Andrew Larpent said the centre was look-
ing forward to welcoming the Governor
and his wife, Lan Le.
o cially open
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