Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Students, faculty and staff at the University of South Carolina had the opportunity to share their stories with a marker and a photo.

The platform was an international project called, Dear World.

Dear World allows people to write a message from a life experience on their body and then get their picture taken to be shared online.

“Middle Eastern people are very rich and very personal and very loving and you know and all the media ever gets to America is we’re bombing each other, we’re killing each other, and that is not who we are,” USC freshman Lauren Cook explained.

Cook wanted to use her picture to show the beauty of the Middle East despite the negative images and stereotypes that exist.

“I was really happy to be able to express that today especially in Arabic, it’s a language that’s beautiful and a culture that’s beautiful,” Cook said.

“A lot of it was sad, but it’s just good overall because it makes me realize how strong I am now,” USC Grad Student Flavia Gibson said.

Gibson used the opportunity to show pride in how she speaks, something that she struggle with growing up.

“My accent is part of who I am,” Gibson said.

“What we’re realizing is that a lot of people feel way more alone than they need to and that we have more in common than we realize,” Katie Greenman with Dear World explained. “A lot of this is about getting people together to just be honest, like what’s a piece of your story and then we expose the fact that a lot of us have commonalities we aren’t seeing.”

Students, faculty and staff will get to see all of the pictures taken and discuss some of the major themes of the community tonight at 8 p.m. at the Russell House.

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