DEAR WORLD: Stories from Women and Gender Studies

The Dear World Project is an interactive, award-winning portrait project that explores the subtle and powerful connections between students, faculty and staff. Dear World was founded as a portrait project that unites people through pictures in their distinct message-on-skin style. 

 As part of Mason's International Week, the project come to campus on Thursday, April 6, 2017.

Here are some pictures of the students, staff, faculty and affiliated faculty of Women and Gender Studies who took part in the project and their stories.


Rose Cherubin

Affiliated faculty, Rose Cherubin shared her experiences with Women and Gender Studies Director, Angie Hattery:

Thank you so much for your support yesterday. And thanks for writing on me, too -- a student who saw the photo has asked to come to my office hours to learn more about how "philosophy can look like you too"! I'd hoped that would happen, but was not expecting it to happen so fast! Of course when the student comes by, I will point out the role of WGST in "philosophy looking like you" at Mason.

Rose's story:

Students have regularly told me that I don't look the way they expect a philosophy professor to look. And they have said they don't expect a philosophy course to offer them anything that speaks to their lives. One such student told me at the end of the semester that she had only stayed in my section because she needed the course to graduate and couldn't get into another section. But by the end, she said, she "couldn't imagine Plato with any other color lipstick."
And she had signed up for more philosophy courses.

So: philosophy should look like you, too.


Angie Hattery

Angie Hattery, Women and Gender Studies Director:

I had arrived at the event planning to use black marker to write “Fight for Justice” on my arms.  But, the organizers dissuaded us from using pat phrases from a Hallmark card like “Be the Change” or “Value Diversity!” Rather we should choose words and phrases that connected to the moment one realized the concept or word.

Immediately my mind was flooded with many messages, but the one recurring theme always came back to moments, and there have been many, including the recent illness and death of my mom, that were about feeling overwhelmed, about not being able to carry everything I was asked to.  To capacity.

I often talk to women who are overwhelmed, who are “at capacity,” who like Shel Silversteins’ “Giving Tree” are nothing more than some crumpled roots underground, literally stripped, with nothing left to give.

You can read more about Angie's story here .


Christian Suero

Christian Suero, Women and Gender Studies Certificate Student:

#DearWorld & #DearGMU It has been 5 months since my identity was taken from me. It has been 5 months that individuals thought they had the right to impersonate me and use my identity as a weapon. I try my best to be optimistic about world and the people in it. Because you never know what someone else may be experiencing, I try my best to make everyone smile and or tell them how much they mean to me. I've come to the realization that a nice smile nor positivity can protect you from discrimination, sexual harassment, or gender based harassment. When my identity was used to harm someone else, for the first time in my life, I asked "Why am I here". The two things I have as a Afro-Latinx, gay, male, is my identity and education. Without my identity however, who am I? Every morning, I kept telling myself "no pressure, no diamonds" but the quote suddenly became empty because inside, I was hollow. I did not know who I could trust with my emotions, my questions, and identities but he was there. He knew I was going through something and he did not let my smile fool him. Every time we spoke, he asked: "Christian, how are you?" or "Christian, do you need anything?". He asked these questions, even as the months went by, I was thankful that someone knew behind my smile I was struggling. "How are you" is such a simple question yet, I slowly regained my essence through his support. Now, I know who I am. Now, I have my voice.


Mary Ann Vega

Mary Ann Vega, Graduate Assistant & MAIS in Women and Gender Studies Student:

I participated in the #dearmason event today which was surprisingly intimate for the large group there taking pictures. It's an event that plays on secret sharing and bravery. It was a practice in shared humanity and I was honored to participate.

My activism and advocacy is fueled by my suffering and the suffering of others -- from the drowning of dreams and imaginations. There's so much space in the world that is not meant to be occupied by people like me and the people I fight for. I get pushed back a lot. But I stand up and speak up.

There is nothing that can stop me. Not sexual assault. Not racism. Not sexism. Not academic elitism. Not institutions of higher education. I'm here. I fight back.

I was empowered by the vulnerability of the community at Mason.


 Jocelyn Martinez   

 Jocelyn Martinez

 Felicia Baez 

  Felicia Baez

 Nancy Xiong

  Nancy Xiong


To view more photos of Mason students, staff and faculty, please click here