Giving back to the community that welcomed him and his family with open arms is at the heart of Phong Tiwangce's council election campaign.
The Burmese refugee arrived in the Riverina back in 2012 after fleeing the war in Myanmar and spending almost two years in Malaysia.
Wagga has been his adopted home ever since and now the 23-year-old is looking to help drive the region forward and represent the city's growing multicultural community on local government.
"When I was on the plane from Sydney to Wagga, I thought I was moving to a big city and I was very surprised when it was actually a small town," Mr Tiwangce said.
"But the Wagga community has welcomed me and my family, and I have loved it ever since. I am proud to say it is where I belong."
Mr Tiwangce is one of five candidates on the Community First ticket, which includes deputy mayor Dallas Tout.
The electrician is running for council with hopes of addressing the issues faced by the Burmese community in Wagga, such as the huge number of residents still waiting for citizenship despite applying years ago.
He is also hoping to set up systems which funnel more resources into the small, multicultural groups in Wagga to help new residents get on their feet after arriving in the Riverina.
"With the Burmese commmunity here in Wagga we have not had many resources for a lot of years," Mr Tiwangce said.
"I think we need to put more resources towards these small ethnic communities."
According to the young migrant, this would help more multicultural residents get into positions where they can help other new arrivals, which will only help to enrich and improve Wagga as a city.
"When you are multicultural it is so much easier when there are other multicultural people working for groups like the Red Cross or the local council so that is what I am trying to achieve," Mr Tiwangce said.
As the youngest candidate taking part in this year's Wagga City Council election, Mr Tiwangce believes he can offer a youthful perspective no other candidate can.
"I believe I can make a difference as a young person and I would represent young people in our community," he said.
The refugee also touched on the difficult journey he underwent at just 11 years old when he was smuggled out of Myanmar and into Malaysia.
Mr Tiwangce said spending his formative years under military rule in Myanmar and then undergoing this journey has helped to shape a unique understanding of the importance of democracy.
"I had to travel with strangers I had never met before and in Malaysia we were scared everyday that we would be sent back," he said.
"To be able to run in this council election is a very special feeling and I would really like to thank Australia and the Wagga community for everything they have given me."
In the lead up to this year's election, The Daily Advertiser has profiled the candidates looking to secure a spot on Wagga City Council.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.