Students get personal with powerful portraits by Dear World


Angel Ulloa

Students wait to have their portraits taken by Dear World photographers. They write messages on their skin, the trademark of Dear World’s project.

Jasmine Aguilera, Copy Editor

A project called Dear World, which features a series of portraits and messages taken all over the world by New Orleans photographers, visited UTEP on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The Dear World team took hundreds of portraits on campus at the Union Building East, which featured UTEP students and staff who came prepared with a message written on their skin.

“Stronger than yesterday,” “Little but fierce,” “We are all chingones,” and many other life mottos were written in black ink on arms, faces, stomachs and chests, all in an effort to showcase individuality and humanity.

“You’re now part of the Dear World family,” said Jonah Evans, Dear World executive producer. Evans helped launch the project in 2009, and it has since been taken to New York, Jordan, Costa Rica and universities throughout the country.

The Dear World team gathered at the Union Building East on Tuesday evening to present a few of the most compelling stories they heard from students and staff.

Sandra Andres, sophomore psychology major, was chosen to speak at the event and to share her story.

She had “I believed I could, so I did,” written across her arms, and on her palms the word “Dreamer” was written. She shared her struggle with a teary-eyed audience—a story about her dream of attending college although she has been undocumented since she was a child.

“I woke up this morning and was not expecting this at all,” Andres said in an interview after her speech. “It’s such a good opportunity to express something that I wouldn’t usually have. It feels liberating.”

The entire Dear World UTEP series will be on display at the Union Gallery, located at room 201 in the Union Building East, in a few weeks.

More information on Dear World can be found at

Jasmine Aguilera may be reached at [email protected]