Activities & Organizations News

UH to host traveling storytelling portrait project “Dear World”

Dear World is a portrait project that travels across the country. | Courtesy of Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services

Everyone has a story to tell, and Cougars will soon be able to tell their own to the University and beyond.

The University of Houston will host a “Dear World” event as the portrait project travels the country on their college tour. An open photo shoot will take place from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Feb. 23 in the first-floor lobby of Student Center South. It will be followed by the storytelling and photo release at 7 p.m. in the Houston Room later that day.

Dear World was founded by Robert Fogarty in New Orleans and allows people to make a statement using a black marker and their own bodies as a canvas. The social experiment utilizes simple means to share powerful messages.

“We are excited to bring Dear World to UH to facilitate dialogue and expression with the community in an original and very unique way,” said Keith Kowalka, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and interim director of Student Media. “Dear World explores stories of hope, stories of struggle and stories of a brighter day.”

Student guides will be on hand to help participants choose and write the words to best express themselves. Human nutrition and foods sophomore Taeler Morris, who is volunteering, believes this event will shine a light on the journeys of Cougars in all areas of campus.

“You can never really know what people feel or have gone through by just looking at them,” Morris said. “This gives you a chance to look into the lives of others in a really cool and artistic way.”

This event is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, the Black Student Union, the Campus Ministries Association, the Council of Ethnic Organizations and the Student Government Association.

Students, faculty and staff — like Carrie Cooper, a program coordinator for Student Housing and Residential Life— are encouraged to participate.

“I knew I wanted to get involved because I am passionate about creating a space where people can share their stories and learn from the stories of others,” Cooper said. “I am most looking forward to being a part of something that causes people to stop and realize that they have something unique to offer the world that no one else can, that their experiences and thoughts matter.”

While the event is only one day long, the University will be displaying the portraits on televisions in the Student Center South in the following days.

“I believe this will be a great opportunity for our campus community to come together by celebrating and welcoming conversations around diversity, vulnerability, and acceptance,” Kowalka said. “Each member of our community has a unique experience, identity and story to share with the world, and Dear World is a transformative vehicle that will help unite the campus community.”

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