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A reflection on a special meeting

We had the pleasure of hosting students from our Schools Program at our 2018 Oration.

Mercedes College students Mackenzie and Emily were kind enough to share their reflection on hearing activist and author Loung Ung speak.

Loung talked about her journey from experiencing the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime as an orphaned young child, to overcoming the hurt and hatred she was taught as a child soldier, to reclaim her voice.


People always tell you to never meet your heroes, because they won‘t live up to the expectations you’ve built about them.

We are glad we didn’t listen to this advice and decided to enter the 2018 MercyCare Oration competition that allowed us to meet Loung Ung, the author of a book we both genuinely loved reading in our Year 11 ATAR English class earlier this year.

Through Loung’s powerful book First They Killed My Father, we were able to understand a national conflict both of us had no previous knowledge of.

She helped us to understand her suffering and the conflict that occurred in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s.

Before hearing her speak, the welcome to country encouraged all of us to be united, linking arms and becoming one.

It was an excellent way to start the evening, connecting us all, even though we were all different people from different backgrounds and reminded us of MeryCare’s value of respect.

Meeting Loung was an experience we will never forget.

Hearing her recount her horrifying experiences and being able to see the sorrow and feeling in her face as she poured her heart and soul into the ballroom of the Hyatt, impacted us more than we could have imagined.

We had both already cried and cried numerous times reading her heart-wrenching book and continued to right in front of her.

We were honoured to be in the presence of such a strong and compassionate woman who, to the both of us, has become a significant dedicated female role model in both of our lives.

We were also fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to converse with Loung herself, expressing our love for her work and our thanks for her time.

She has inspired us both to become better people and to be more compassionate just like her.

We also enjoyed some food and drink following the presentation and conversed with the other distinguished guests, including many of the Sisters of Mercy who were also invited along to the evening.

–       Mackenzie Peattie and Emily Short.