The University of New Orleans is made up of thousands of people, each with a different story, a different plan, a different voice.
What: Dear World UNO
When: Campus-wide photoshoot is Tuesday, Feb. 7, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a storytelling and photo release program from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: University Center, 2000 Lakeshore Dr., New Orleans, La.
Open to all UNO students, faculty and staff.
To request disability accommodations, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear World, an award-winning photographic storytelling project that began in New Orleans in 2009, will be on campus Feb. 6 and 7 to mine those stories in under 24 hours as part of a project that aims to highlight the diversity of the people who make UNO what it is.
“I think we all have a story to tell and we may not always have the opportunity to share it,” said UNO’s Mike Hoffshire, assistant director of First-Year Student Success, who is coordinating the program in conjunction with University Success 1001 classes, required courses designed to help new students successfully transition to the University.
The program will begin the evening of Feb. 6, during an invite-only event during which a select group of administrators, faculty and student leaders will meet with Dear World staff, share personal stories with one another. Participants are then asked to think of words or messages that are reflective of those stories and to write those words on themselves in black marker. That’s when Dear World’s professional photographers turn their cameras on them in an effort to create powerful images that can be shared.
On Feb. 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Dear World project will go campus-wide, inviting all UNO students, and especially those enrolled in the University Success classes, to get involved in the storytelling and photography project. Faculty and staff are also welcome. The team will be set up in the University Center atrium, ready to hear and document everyone's stories. “We’d like for all students at UNO to feel they can participate,” Hoffshire said. “The more the better.”
By the end of the day, Dear World will select five stories to highlight during a culminating event from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Ted Hickey Ballroom at the University Center that includes a photo reveal and live storytelling event. The five participants will have the opportunity to speak publicly, sharing their stories in their own words.
Hoffshire said it’s an exciting project to bring to UNO, one that he hopes helps to reach beyond the surface of things, giving students opportunities to build empathy and understanding across experience.
“They may see things about their peers that they may not see otherwise,” he said.
Dear World has visited college campuses around the world as part of its Dear World College Tour. The effort, founded by photojournalist Robert X. Fogarty, got its start in 2009 as “Dear New Orleans,” as people wrote “love notes” to the city in response to rebuilding effort following Hurricane Katrina. It soon expanded to a worldwide project that seeks to help people form powerful connections based on their personal experiences.
The organization states that it has taken over 50,000 portraits from around the world, calling the portraits “the first line in a story that brings us closer together.”