At 42, Jug Lafencha-Chamling has spent almost half his life in a refugee camp.
His family were among more than 100,000 forced to flee Bhutan in the 1990s for nearby Nepal.
After two decades in “limbo” he was finally granted a humanitarian visa, coming to Australian in April, 2013.
On Thursday, Jug along with his wife Kumari Mangden-Fago, their two sons Lhaoth and Hillee and Jug’s 82-year-old father Gopal Lafencha-Chamling, all became Australian citizens.
He said it was the happiest day of his life.
“We are just excited and very proud to finally be citizens,” he said.
“It is an emotional thing and hard to express.
“It has been a very long time coming.”
Lhotshampas, one of Bhutan's three main ethnic groups, were forced out of the South Asian country in the early 1990s.
Politically, under Bhutan’s ‘One Nation, One People’ policy, they were no longer considered citizens in their own country.
At the time Jug was just 15 years old.
“I still remember the year 1990, because my parents left Bhutan as the grand plan of the Royal Government of Bhutan for exile,” he said.
“We went through India to save our lives and sought asylum in the eastern part of Nepal and lived in a camp as refugees for more than two decades.
“In demand of human right in Bhutan, we became stateless for many years and had to live on the dole.
“Many of us from the camp have different experiences.
“There was a lot of hardships as there was no right to work income.
“To live with a refugee tag is not easy.
“However, through hardship I developed self confidence in my life, because I learned many things such as how to survive in hardship, to help people in need and live harmoniously.”
By 1991, seven refugee camps were established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
But it wasn’t until 2007 that the option of third-country resettlement was made available to members of the refugee community registered at the camps.
While resettlement was not forced, for many like Jug it was a very complicated and often “antagonising” decision to make.
“I used to feel guilty when people asked where I was from,” he said.
“It is very complicated, but we felt it was impossible for us to ever go back to Bhutan.
“I was helpless in the camp, but the only life I had known was there.
‘But it was very limited. I didn’t have citizenship in Nepal so I could not leave for work.
“So I tried to make the most of the opportunities I had.”
In 2013 Jug, his father, his wife and their then three-year-old son Lhaoth came to Australia.
As Jug explained, this was the start of a “new life”, but it wasn’t without its challenges.
For my sons, my hope now for them to know happiness and not the problems faced by me and my father - that time is over now.- Jug Lafencha-Chamling
“When I first came to Tasmania, I faced challenges in my various aspects such as law, family life, culture, education, transport, language and employment,” he said.
“I did not know anyone in new country Australia.”
Jug credits the Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania with helping him set up a life for him and his family.
While his early education from Bhutan had been continued within the refugee camp and he did speak some English, the thick Australian accent did complicate things.
“I did geography studies in school in Bhutan, so I knew something about Australia,” he said.
“When we arrived here, I spoke a little English but in Australia it was very different to what we had practiced.
“I struggled to understand anyone for a long time. But when I compare those past years and now, there are lots of changes.
“I am confident to do many things by myself now.”
Jug and his family were among 21 people welcomed as new Australian citizens at Albert Hall on Thursday.
Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said they would add to the diversity of Launceston's culture and enrich the “fabric of the community”.
“Many people who choose to become Australian citizens are wanting to contribute and involve themselves in new ways with our community,” he said.
"It is often an emotional day for people, but a joyous one. Sometimes it's easy for us to take our lifestyle and opportunities for granted, but these kinds of ceremonies tend to highlight just how lucky we are to live in a place like Tasmania.
“I find it an extremely rewarding part of the job of being the mayor of Launceston.”
In his five years in Australia Jug has achieved many things, including the completion of an adult migrant English program and an employment training course through TasTafe.
He is working for Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania as a support worker for its Humanitarian Settlement Program.
In his spare time he also volunteers with a number of community groups as a mentor, running citizenship classes, translating and organising events.
He and Kumari welcomed their second son Hillee in 2015 and their eldest Lhaoth is now in grade 2 at Mowbray Primary School.
Eight months ago, Jug’s mother, sister and brother also came to Australia. He hopes they too will be able to become Australian citizens.
Jug said he is looking forward to living life as a citizen of Australia and making the most of the opportunities available to him.
“I think it is very important for all people to know how lucky you are to be in this country Australia,” he said.
“For my sons, my hope now for them to know happiness and not the problems faced by me and my father - that time is over now.
“Like many migrants who come to this country, they are very young and learn very quickly. But for me and my wife, it takes time. To learn and to change your ways is not easy.
“I always had hope as a refugee, but I didn’t have the opportunities. I think you need will power and my sons will have the opportunities I didn’t.
“Today is my happiest day. From today I am citizen and I have the rights, privileges and duties to my new country Australia.
“On behalf of my family, I would like to thank the Australian government for awarding citizenship and admitting us as par of Australia’s wider community of people.”