A new kind of storytelling

Five students begin the Global Faces of Biola project, an account on Instagram telling the stories of global students.


Marika Adamopoulos

Becky Mitchell/THE CHIMES

Rebecca Mitchell, Writer

For the first time, the stories of global students are being told to the masses. The Global Faces of Biola project is about telling what people’s stories really are, sophomore communications and philosophy major Nicole Hodiny said. They are not just sharing one story, but many.

Unique Stories

Hodiny and four other girls make up the communications team behind GFOB with unique stories of their own.

The project began before students stepped foot onto the Biola campus this semester. The team met over the summer to discuss taking the idea of global student of the month and combining it with the Humans of New York profile idea.

“Last year Stephanie Sanford [director of Global Student Programs and Development] had this idea of having global student of the month, I think it was, but it wasn’t very popular,” said junior business major and art minor Clarissa Rusli. “The purpose was just to let people in the global student community know more about each other.”

Using Instagram

Rather than just having the stories shared on a private Facebook page for global students, the team decided to make an account on Instagram. They also hoped this would reach a larger community than the Biola campus.

“I think all of us really appreciate art and we love how [on] Instagram you can really showcase beautiful pictures,” Rusli said. “We thought what better media can we use than Instagram so we can show the Biola community and even our friends outside of Biola’s community.”

Beyond a Story

GFOB has done more than just show faces of global students. From the beginning the team wanted to truly tell the stories of people, and one way this began was through a Ted Talk by Taiye Selasi.

“Stephanie showed us a Ted Talk, a video that talked about how we label things on everybody, and we tend to stereotype people [based on a] single story,” Hodiny said. “So it’s where when you look at a person you only associate them with one single story, and it’s like their whole being cannot have a bunch of other stories, you’ve only imposed one story on them and you just don’t bother going deeper and getting to know the person more.”

Tamaru Wu, freshman communications and sociology major, was featured on the page. She confirms the hopes of the team and goes above and beyond by sharing the speciality of each story

“The page breaks stereotypes, as in when you first see people you kind of have these stereotypes, and then from this GFOB project you can tell they have a story, each person [has] their own personal, unique story by God,” Wu said.

Breaking the Assumptions

The stories of the communications team are just a few of those stories written by God. Each member of the team is also a global student, and can choose to be on the page.

“What I experience is different from what I look [like],” said Claire Choi, sophomore studio arts major. “I tend to close down from people, and assume based on the first impression. I know I’m in the process of breaking that assumption and stereotypes that I have towards people, and GFOB has been helping me to practice that breaking down the assumptions.”

God’s Story

GFOB has impacted more than just the communications team. They have heard many positive responses. Sophomore cinema and media arts major Selena Yin said these stories have begun conversations among existing and new friend groups.

“God really showed Himself, as in a lot of people came up to me and [were] like ‘wow thank you for your story. Thank you for sharing. I’m really blessed by it,’” Wu said. “And then it really reminds me this is not about you, it is about God’s story.”

Blessing Others

The widespread impact of GFOB is more than the communications team could have hoped for and as the project continues throughout the year more and more students will be informed.

“When we see the likes, the number of people likes or liking the pictures or number of followers increasing we get excited over it for sure,” Rusli said. “But it’s more like we have one more person reading our stories, one more person we’re potentially blessing significantly.”

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