A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Storytelling company Dear World visits The University of Akron to allow students and staff the opportunity to share their story.


image via Sarah Minear

Throughout the day, students and staff at The University of Akron were able to curate their own “brain tattoo” and have their portrait taken.

By Sarah Minear, Contributor

COVID-19 Manager for Residence Life, Matt Cola, demonstrates how freeing it is to be vulnerable with one’s community.

On Jan. 26, 2022, Dear World visited The University of Akron’s campus to encourage students to look within and share their stories with the world. 

“We believe that if we can share more meaningful stories with everyone, with a complete stranger, we can build a vulnerable and authentic connection on campus,” said Wes Woodson, Lead College Storyteller with Dear World. 

Dear World is a storytelling company that brings their interactive experience all across the world to share people’s stories. These stories are brought to life through individuals’ brain tattoos. “Brain tattoos” are words people write on their own bodies, representing their individuality and experiences. Photographing people’s brain tattoos allows others to discover the stories behind the words people have chosen.

“Students want to feel connected to something. Everyone is yearning to be vulnerable and everyone is yearning to talk about the things that they once used to hide,” Woodson said. “I believe this exercise, this experience, allows the perfect platform to do just that.” 

Throughout the day, The University of Akron students and staff helped members of the community curate a brain tattoo to write on a part of their body.  

“Vulnerability is important because it helps people to feel connected, to be able to better relate to each other, and to discover deeper similarities they have with others in their community that may not be immediately obvious at first glance,” said Matt Cola, COVID-19 Manager for Residence Life. 

Staff member, Christine Fabre Rose, shared her story and reminded the UA community to “Just Keep Swimming.”

Not only is it important for college students to be vulnerable with one another to build strong relationships, but it is also important for staff to be open and honest with students. Christine Fabre Rose, Associate Director of Choose Ohio First and the Office of Academic Retention Support, was one of the many staff members who participated in this humbling, eye-opening experience. 

“How can we expect our students to open up to us and trust us if we don’t share a little bit about ourselves with them? It is important for students to know that we are human too,” Fabre Rose said. “ I believe that part of building rapport with students is you have to be honest and share some of your struggles.”   

The Dear World event concluded with a story celebration that highlighted The University of Akron students and staff. These individuals were hand-picked and prepped so they were ready to share their story with the community.  

“After going through the experience, I felt amazing,” senior Zion Johnston said. “The impact it had on me was more on a personal level because a student came up to me afterwards asking for advice, and that put a smile on my face knowing that I can help others.”  

To learn more about Dear World and their mission, visit dearworld.com.