Dear WCU – share your story with the world

“If you had one story to share with the world, what would you say?”

This is the question that launches each Dear World event, an interactive experience that explores stories of struggle, of hope and of brighter days.

The team of Dear World will start Dear WCU’s open shoot at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26 in the UC Grand Room sponsored by WCU’s Arts and Cultural Events (ACE).

Dear World’s work includes portraits, videos, and stories of survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing and Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting as well as Syrian refugees.

Orlando Chief of Police, John Mina recounts his experience as a first responder to the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting. Courtesy of Dear World Twitter.

Dear World was founded in 2009 by Robert X. Fogarty as a portrait project that connects people through pictures using a distinct message-on-skin style and has already taken over 50,000 portraits from around the world.

The Dear World team consists of founder Robert X. Fogarty, executive producer Jonah Evans, and photographer, storyteller and facilitator Katie Greenman. They will be facilitating Dear WCU with the goal of connecting our students, faculty and staff.

Brandon Lokey, the assistant director of campus activities, thinks that Dear World will provide students with an amazing opportunity to learn about diversity in our community.

“It has the potential to be incredibly powerful because we’re asking people to just give us a snapshot, a post-it note essentially, of what their inner most world looks like and share that with us,” said Lokey. “I think that can be very powerful.”

Dear WCU kicks off with two VIP sessions from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 25. Roughly 60 to 80 preselected participants are invited. To find the right participants, the Dear World team collaborated with Lokey to identify influential campus leaders, consisting of students, faculty, and staff.

Lokey describes the process as “just shooting out a lot of emails saying ‘We identify you as being someone who is high touch, high impact with our students on campus.’”

VIP participants will get a firsthand look and access to their photos before they are published on social media. By the next morning, the VIP portraits will have circulated 20,000 to 100,000 times on social media.

Marc Watrous remembering how an elementary school teacher changed his life. Courtesy of Dear World Twitter.

On Tuesday, the open shoot will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff will participate in the photo shoot where the Dream World team will search for exceptional stories that they think best represents WCU. They will work with students one-on-one to uncover the deeper meanings behind their message and teach storytelling techniques to increase the connection with the audience.

The finale starts at 7 p.m. where the Dear World team will share their favorite portraits and stories from the event, giving students the opportunity to share their powerful portraits.

WCU student, Allyson Wainright, is particularly interested in going to the event.

“I found their account on Instagram after the Orlando club shooting, and I found the stories really interesting because some of them were sad, some were happy,” said Wainright. “It was a really interesting concept to me.”

Dear World lives by their mission, “We aren’t changing the world, but we take pictures of people who are.”

Lokey’s hope for the event is that this event will broaden the perspective of our students.

“A sort of understanding and appreciating just the complexity, the robust complexity of our peers and the importance of holding space and sharing stories of experiences,” said Lokey.

Is there a story you want to tell the world?

To learn more about Dear World click here and be sure to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.