Euijeong You won the Vocational Education and Training Category of the 2020 Melbourne Writers Festival's storytelling competition 'Bold New World'.

Dear Dorothy

By Euijeong You

Hello, how are you?

How odd it seemed that people say, ‘How are you’ to each other when I first stepped into this strange country. Even to someone you’ve never met before. By the time I finally learnt to enjoy vegemite, I could consider myself qualified enough to be an honorary Australian, then I realised people say that rather habitually. Yet, I do feel that this phrase means more than ever nowadays.

So, how are you, Dorothy? A child who flew to the magical land of Oz. From Kansas, Tehran, Ho Chi Minh, Barcelona, Gaza… from far, far away. What adventures have you encountered in this marvellous land? Have you met any brilliant, warmhearted, courageous friends? Or are you wishing for silver shoes to bring you back home, which there’s no place like? What is your story, Dorothy? What did you come to find? There are all sorts of things here. Some folks come here to find silver and gold, or to learn magic, or even for its beautiful roads, oceans, and mountains. Some were taken by a big, bad tornado, lost everything, looking for a new home.

Well, my friend, I came to find something, not knowing exactly what it was. One may call it passion; one may call it inspiration; what I can tell you is that I was eager to see the world. Thus, here I am. A bizarre place where it’s winter in August and summer at Christmas. A curious place where you can experience diverse cultures without many stamps on your passport. Would you ask if I found what I was looking for? I’ll just say I’m a different person now from who I was before.

What a strange world we are living in! There may not be any witches nor monsters, yet we still fight our wars. We call it racism, discrimination, glass ceiling, inequity, patriarchy, now pandemic. It is said that hatred is a universal language. Sadly, it is true. I’ve seen hate, Dorothy. I’ve experienced it. I’m sure you have too. There were times I despaired. Wishing for silver shoes to take me home. Nonetheless, dear Dorothy, I believe love will save us because hate can only do little. Love changes; love survives, love endures, progresses, motivates, enhances, and liberates.

In Korea we say, ‘비온 뒤 땅이 굳는다’, which can be translated into, ‘The ground hardens after rain’. They say ‘After a storm comes a calm’ in English. Whichever language you speak, I believe it would say something similar.

My dear friend Dorothy, I’ve seen hope in this wondrous land. Hope is in my cat’s snores, in a child’s palm, in worker’s sweat. Hope is right in front of you, Dorothy. At times, we can’t see things when they are too close. So close your eyes. Inhale. Exhale. I am here, Dorothy. I am Dorothy, and I will stay by your side. We will fight this together. We will stand, with our hands held, and we will prove this magical land that love wins. Always.