Tuesday evening in the Chamberlain Student Center, the Dear World program came to Rowan University to help students better understand one another. The event’s intention was to help open the eyes of students to the stories of others on campus, and to not judge a book by its cover.
The organization made stops at colleges around the country and interviewed celebrities such as Stuart Scott and the Duke University basketball team.
The Dear World organization begins with encouraging people to choose turning points in their lives and write short descriptions or phrases on their bodies in black ink. After each person tells their story to a Dear world representative, they take a photo displaying their words. The descriptions are purposefully short to make you ask, “What is this person’s story?”
The photo shoot is followed by a public program in which selected participants tell their stories in front of an audience. The Dear World event at Rowan started off with a clip showing how the Duke University basketball team bonded together, just by opening up and asking one another to tell their stories. Followed next was a video with the late sportscaster Stuart Scott and the story about how the program helped his kids and family overcome his passing after he died of cancer in 2015.
Three of Rowan’s own students, Samir Jones, Joe Egan and Nathesia Brown were featured in the event telling their personal stories about obstacles they overcame and how it brought them to where they are now.
“This event was amazing,” Jones said, a freshman history education major. “It made people open up and realize their inter-ambitions and the problems that they have, others might be facing themselves and we can help one another overcome them together.”
Before the event on Tuesday night, Dear World had approximately two hundred thousand stories and photos shared on their social media. After coming to Rowan University, the organization added over one hundred fifty photos to the collection.
Summing up what the program meant, Brown, a sophomore music technology major said, “Tonight’s event helped me open up and let people know that they need to open up and speak up as well. Tonight was a very overwhelming experience and allowed me to tell people my story and helped me to no longer stay silent. Without events like this, I wouldn’t be able to tell my story and get it out there.”
Program Leader and storyteller AK Ikwuakor also had a lot to say about the event as well.
“Dear World’s goal for Rowan students was to impact them by telling them that everyone has a story and we should all stop for a moment and have deeper conversations with one another to help each other and help us get a better understanding of ourselves,” Ikwuakor said.
Ikwuakor added, “One thing Rowan students should take home from tonight’s event is to cherish one another and realize that not everything is guaranteed. We should always be present and find ways to be present in others’ lives.”
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Will there be anything like this in the near future?