Black ink appeared on many students’ bodies on Monday Oct. 23, launching FGCU’s inaugural Dear World event. Dear World is a global project focused on sharing personal stories and bringing communities together.
Dean of Students Michele Yovanovich and FGCU’s Programming Board brought Dear World to campus as an initiative to bring students together through individual stories.
“Recently in the world ,there has been a lot of issues with diversity – your age, gender, race, sex – and what this can do is this can bring it all together,” Nick said. “It can really bring our campus together by taking everyone with different back stories.”
Students were invited to share their stories on with Dear World advocates.
According to Software engineering major Hannah Andrews, students wrote down three impactful instances in their life, wrote a story on one and then share it with someone else.
“I think it really shows the morale of the students here, and it goes in depth into their stories and it shows what is going on in their life,” Andrews said.
Four FGCU students and one faculty member shared their stories about immigration, abuse and overcoming hardships in front of students, adding to the portfolio of world stories.
Political Science major Bryan Infante opened up about his fear of his mom not coming home because the police could take her away at any moment.
Infante’s mother immigrated to the United States when she was 17 after increased violence in her village. One day, she gave Infante a piece of paper with contact information in case she “would not come back.”
According to Infante, ever since that day, he would wait by the window and hope that his mom would come home from work.
Today, Infante is a political science student hoping to change the community and people’s negative perceptions on illegal immigrants.
As students told their stories, Lutgert College of Business Academic Advisor Crystal Coleman told her story about beating the odds of becoming a teen mom.
“I had my teachers, my coaches and neighbors say to my face ‘you have wasted your life, you will amount to nothing now’”, Coleman said.
Coleman said she was determined to not be another statistic, and she received a bachelor’s degree and went on to get a master’s degree.
“Deep down I decided early on that I’d show my small town, and my family, and myself that being a young mother would not break me,” Coleman said. “I would survive, I would flourish, he would flourish and I would raise an amazing man.”
Coleman is preparing to watch her son graduate from college.
The concept of Dear World started when the founder Robert graduated as a journalist from New York and went to New Orleans, Louisiana to bring “magic back to the city” after hurricane Katrina ravaged the city.
He asked the people of New Orleans to write lover letters to the city on their skin. People generally wrote messages like, “You will survive” and “Go Saints” as comforting messages.
A turning point in Dear World was when a man asked if he could do something different for his message. He walked back with the words “cancer free” across his chest, which was a stepping stone for the world-wide project.
Since it’s humble beginnings, Dear World has captured stories from Europe to villages in Nepal.