Written by: Zaina Salem
Sharing a personal message with the world became reality to many students at the University of Akron. In the midst of Diversity Week, students of different races, religions, and ethnicities lined up in the Student Union with the same intention: to inspire others.
It all started with one person, Robert X. Fogarty, who had people write love notes on their hands to the city of New Orleans after hurricane season. The pictures were posted online, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. A year and a half later, the movement is still going strong.
Dear World is “part business, art project, and social experiment,” according to dearworld.me. Fogarty captures inspirational messages written on people’s hands, arms, and faces. He then shares it with a city where friends, family, and strangers have the opportunity to view the results.
Fogarty takes Dear World to annual conventions, leadership retreats, and college campuses from across America, to around the world. On September 18 and 19, The University of Akron became one of its destinations.
Many students and faculty seemed eager as they wrote words of wisdom on themselves. It was new and unique way of spreading the message and people wanted to get involved. Summer Matar was one of the many students who participated in Dear World.
“It was a great experience to see how many people wanted to get their message out to the world,” said Matar. “I personally was so inspired by other people’s words and hope I inspired others too.”
On Wednesday night, Dear World Live took place in the Student Union Ballroom. Students came together to hear Robert Fogarty speak about his journey and why he loves what he does. In addition, five students shared a life experience and explained Dear World’s significance to them. Each story shared by the students expressed emotion and inspiration to the audience.
“The stories were shocking, real, and made you appreciate what you have,” Matar said.
After the speeches, Fogarty played the slideshow of all the pictures he had taken at The University of Akron. He wanted to take the time to reflect and think about loved ones as it was displayed. One by one, photos of many different kinds of people appeared on the screen. Each picture showed a person with a unique and meaningful message; no two were the same. Another participant, Noha Elsayed, gave her view of Dear World.
“My experience with Dear World was really meaningful. It was nice to feel like my voice was being heard,” she said.
Robert Fogarty and Dear World have appeared in publications and media everywhere. The inspiring and artistic business has been highlighted in places such as CNN, PBS, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Inc. Magazine. Dear World continues to grow, reaching out to people across the globe in the most exclusive way.
Elsayed ended with a remark that sums up what many envision about Dear World.
“It’s amazing to me that someone is going around documenting everyday faces that have a message they want the world to see. Mr. Fogarty’s project is truly a wonderful thing.”