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News at Mason

Dear World project returns to Mason

April 23, 2018   /   by Natalie Kuadey

As part of International Week, George Mason University brought back Dear World, a portrait project focused on bringing together campus communities worldwide through visual storytelling—that is, writing messages that express their feelings on their forearms.

The interactive event explored connections between members of the Mason community through the sharing of personal stories to build understanding and start meaningful conversations about concepts that can bring people together.

Here are a few of those stories:

Erik Truong

Erik Truong, junior, government and international politics

It’s as if she stole the words right out of his mouth, Truong said of Ariana Grande’s song “Moonlight in My Hands.” It’s an obscure verse, but for Truong, it signifies a close bond with friend Jennifer Mendez-Ruiz who is at the University of Oregon.

“Our friendship is connected through music, and our friendship wouldn’t be where it is without recognizing the little parts in our journey,” Truong said.

“I think we take for granted the little stories that ultimately make up a person,” Truong said, “and Dear World provided an opportunity to really acknowledge and showcase those stories.”

Mari Baz

Mari Baz, senior, information systems and operations management

There comes a point in our lives when we reflect and realize who really has held us down, said Baz, who wanted to pay tribute to the individual who brought her to that realization. That is why she wrote “You saved me from myself. I love you” on her forearms.

“I naturally thought about my best friend and how she was my anchor during a rough time,” Baz said. “Sharing my story to the world through a single portrait and message was an intimate, personal and beautiful experience.”

“I hope that my story and message inspire others that it is OK to be vulnerable and sad,” she added. “We all go through adolescence and have bad experiences. Despite it all, we survived and have grown as individuals.”

Alexis Morris

Alexis Morris, junior, biology      

“People question why you are so guarded, why you don’t like to openly express your emotions, but then they read your story and see why,” Morris said.

The message on her arms?

“You would sit on the porch and watch.”

“The person who I confided in the most, the one who always believed in me, passed away,” Morris said.

Her story is relatable to anyone, Morris said.

“Because no matter who it is, really, " she said, "all of us have felt lost after a loved one has passed away or after a meaningful friendship grew apart.”

Theresa Hoang. Photo by Natalie Kuadey.

Theresa Hoang, junior, medical laboratory science

After thinking long and hard, Hoang decided her message would be “Love & Forgiveness are HER weapons.”

Hoang said that when she was younger, she held grudges for those who hurt her.

“But as I got older, I learned that life is too short to stay mad at certain things,” she said. “The only way to move on is to let go, forgive yourself and forgive others.”

“I want other women to know that love and forgiveness are the only ways to get back in life and create a sense of peace within yourself and others around you,” Hoang said.