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A Live Storytelling Experience & Portrait Shoot for Colleges & Universities

Story by Dear World June 8th, 2016



See our process in this two-minute video…

About Dear World

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

That is the question we ask at Dear World, an interactive, award-winning portrait project that explores the subtle and powerful connections between students, faculty and staff. Dear World was founded as a portrait project that unites people through pictures in their distinct message-on-skin style.

Our teams have visited college campuses around the world, from Oxford to Oregon and Paris to Princeton. Dear World has taken over 50,000 portraits from around the world and we found that these portraits often became the first line in a story that brings us closer together.

Our process began simply, to ask a person to share a message about something or to someone they love. By the end of the night you realize that through our stories, there’s actually much more that brings us together than what keeps us apart.


Our College and University partners often invite Dear World team for one of the following reasons.

Curated + Themed Events

How can schools foster better and meaningful conversations across a diverse student body? Many of our college partners bring us in for this exact reason. We work with your team to create an event around a desired theme to help widen conversations around issues such as diversity and inclusion, mental health, sexual assault and awareness, identity, or disability awareness. Our process creates a safe and creative space that sparks further dialogue by honoring that everyone is coming from different backgrounds and experiences. We provide an outlet for each individual to share their own story in their own words.


Dear World portraits can be a powerful way to mark a new chapter in students’ lives. We help incoming students connect to one another and kick-start the year by celebrating and welcoming conversations around diversity, vulnerability, and acceptance and use storytelling as a transformative vehicle to unite the campus community.

Executive Leadership Development and Storytelling Workshops

We will work with a selected group of students, faculty and staff to uncover the stories behind their portraits and learn techniques to increase their connection to their peers. Our facilitated discussions focus on team building in an intimate and open space to help broaden our understanding of ourselves, colleagues and the world around us.

Athletic Team Leadership Development

College Athletic Departments use Dear World as a vehicle to create a more trusting environment that strengthens bonds among teammates beyond the game. This process provides an opportunity for teams to connect and share intimate moments that sets the course for the entire season helping to get closer to accomplishing your team goal.

We love exploring new ways Dear World can bring together your campus. If you have any new ideas we haven’t thought about yet, we want to hear about it!

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"DearWorld’s unique approach allowed for students to discuss topics of inclusion&equity in an interactive and safe space." Emelie Helsen,MSU
"I Made it" Pictured: Student sharing a message of strength and triumph.
"Through self-reflection and the stories told - a greater impact has been achieved across the SUNY system." Josh Altemoos, SUNY
Bentley University Orientation 2016
Jesse sharing his story about his experiencing going"from Homeless to Bentley". Bentley University Orientation 2016
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How does it work?

A typical Dear World event is built around a VIP photo shoot, followed by an Open Portrait Shoot and culminates in a Storytelling Event & Photo Reveal. Here’s how the story unfolds…


We ask coordinators to confirm at least 50 VIPs to participate in a private portrait shoot the afternoon before the big event. We will work with your team to identify the right influencers and recognizable campus leaders, faculty and staff with a wide reaching network. This is an opportunity to convene diverse departments, student organizations, and non-traditional co sponsors to celebrate and honor their individual stories.

At the VIP Shoot, the Dear World team takes portraits, listens to the stories behind the messages, and gives the participants an exclusive firsthand look and access to their photos. In return, Dear World asks VIP Shoot participants to help spread the word about the main event.

This shoot is designed to help us reach a wider audience for the main campus and by the following morning, these VIP portraits have circulated 20,000 - 100,000 times via social media, promising a great turn out for the main event.


The open shoot lasts about 3 hours and is typically done in a central or high-traffic area such as the student union. Hundreds of students participate in the photo shoot and engage one another in meaningful conversations about the stories behind their messages.

Dear World team also looks out for exceptional stories that are truthful and personal and model leadership and vulnerability. We will work with your team to identify students that are representative of your college campus and invite them to join the Dear World team on stage to share their story.

The Dear World team then edits the photos and works with the student speakers one-on-one to uncover the deeper meaning beyond their message and learn storytelling techniques to increase their connection to the audience.


At the evening finale, the Dear World team shares some of our favorite portraits and stories of incredible people we have met across our journey that will make you smile, cry, and laugh out loud. The student speakers will then get the chance to share the stories behind their powerful portraits to their peers. This is one of the most powerful moments of the event where the audience find a piece of them in each of those stories. The event ends with a culminating slideshow of the day’s portraits.


After the Storytelling Event, Dear World will set up the photo shoot again right outside of the Storytelling Event to capture the stories and portraits for those that did not have the opportunity earlier in the day. This is another chance for your campus community to continue catalyzing connections make throughout the day.

"United we stand divided we fall."

We love it, now what?

Reach out to us and tell us about your event. The calendar is usually set two or three months in advance and dates are filling up fast.

WE are officially booked up for our Fall TOUR 2017. We have started booking out for spring 2018 and hope to include you on our tour!

Write us at:

Be sure to include:

• The name of your school,

• Ideal date(s) for your event,

• What you hope the Dear World Team could accomplish on your campus.

One of our team members will get back to as soon as possible.

Thank you.

–The Dear World Team


Each member of your campus community has a unique experience, identity and story to share with the world. Hundreds of students will participate by writing messages of hope, inspiration and triumph. Dear World’s interactive approach provides an opportunity and outlet for authentic and vulnerable interactions between students, faculty, and staff - bringing together the entire campus. This is when you will begin to see the authenticity, courage, and vulnerability in sharing a personal message.

Dear World Live from James Madison Disability Week
Dear World Live from Binghamton University
Dear World Live from Tulane University
Dear World Live from the University of Texas El Paso
Dear World Live from Emory College
Dear World Live from Michigan State University
Dear World Live coming to you next!

Dear World – The First Day of School

Dear World visits over 50 universities per year to connect students through their stories and portraits. One of them is Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

This is the story of their first day of school...

"Dear World was the event we didn’t know our campus needed, as it facilitated dialogue and expression in an original and extremely important way."

–Meredith Hess, Student, Davidson College

"Refuse to sink" Pictured: Aminata Ndoye,  John Jay Graduating Class of 2016
Katie Greenman, Dear World Photographer & Storyteller
"Great things will come later" Ingrid shared her story about her experience being a first generation college student at Binghamton
"Always be a friend."
"Be gentle to yourself"Pictured:Rahilou shared a story about being an international student and the importance of staying true to yourself."
Jonah Evans, Executive Producer & Storyteller
"No 1 said it would be easy" quote from Kaeli's grandfather that symbolizes his story of overcoming hardships, survival and triumph.
"Possible" Pictured: Valeka shared her story of being the first in her family to graduate college - John Jay Graduating Class of 2016
"There's power in every story." Pictured: Cat Fillmore, San Jose State University