Through my project, Being, I aim to explore the human experience and challenge our notions of otherness through ordinary ideas, thoughts, beliefs, stories, and philosophies of strangers. I visually present diverse voices through the medium of design.

To do this, I passed out anonymous surveys to collect accounts of individuals' experiences. These surveys contained a list of 45 prompts, including questions such as: “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life?” and “How do you deal with anger?” After the surveys were returned, I created an image from each response. The design of the image corresponds with something from the response that I felt defined the character of the respondent. Through presenting these images to the public, I hope that people may discover meaningful connections with total strangers and build a greater sense of empathy. I want people to realize that these stories could very well belong to strangers sitting next to them, or the acquaintances that they see every day but do not know much about. Ultimately we are all human and we have a lot more in common than we think. I believe that by sharing these accounts of the human experience, I can help people become more aware of the connections we inherently hold as humans. Hopefully this understanding will help people find the motivation to treat all others with kindness and respect.

This blog consists of nine images followed by the written responses that served as their inspiration. Passages or phrases that particularly stood out to me are colored light yellow.

Thanks for your interest!

-Masami Chin

Be Critical, Be Outspoken, Value Happiness

1. What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
I don’t know the happiest or saddest moments of my life, but I know the general time period under which they fall. I would say the happiest time of my life is right now; I feel comfortable with myself and my life trajectory. Right now I just feel so lucky to be at a good university with great friends and an awesome boyfriend. The saddest time of my life was first semester freshmen year of college; I had a very mean and jealous boyfriend, I did not like my major, I was very sick with bronchitis for months, and I was super stressed (which showed on my skin!)

2. Who was the most important person in your life?  What lessons did that person teach you?
My father, he’s so important to me. He raised me to be confident in my intellectual abilities, my looks (by not mentioning other’s looks very often), and my place in this world. He raised me to be critical and value happiness, and to be outspoken.

3. Who has been the biggest influence in your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
My Father.

4. Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
Again, my dad. He’s so patient and loving!

5. It’s been said that after they pass away the most important people in our lives “live within us.” Is there anyone from your past that lives within you?
That’s really interesting. I’ve never thought about that. My friend in middle school committed suicide and I find him entering my thoughts more than most people from that time period of my life! I think about him often.

6. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
Value life, be kind, be accepting, be opinionated, be practical.

7. What is your earliest memory?
I went to pre-pre-school (like when you’re three years old I think!) in a pretty bad neighborhood. I got locked out at lunch time because I was making “sand pies” for everyone. I turned around and everyone was gone, and the door is this big metal door that has no handle on the outside, so I banged on it for what felt like an hour (probably about 10 minutes). It was so scary! Finally my teacher let me in. I cried until my dad came to pick me up in the afternoon, from what I remember.

8. What are you proudest of in your life?
My academic achievements. Maybe that’s boring…Too bad
9. When in life have you felt most alone?
My first semester at college, I didn’t have any important friends at LMU and I knew absolutely no one in Los Angeles.

10. How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
I thought I would be a film editor, and never saw myself in the medical professions. I didn’t expect to be so happy at college.

11. How would you like to be remembered?
As an old lady who gives people candy!

12. Do you have any regrets?
Oh yes. I regret a lot of things, even though I can’t change them. I regret things from elementary school. I think I have a problem with letting things go. My biggest regret is not breaking up with my high school boyfriend after high school.

13. What does your future hold?
Hopefully happiness!

14. Do you have a love of your life?
I have a boyfriend, whom I love, but we haven’t said “I love you” yet. Oooooh! Juicy!

15. When did you first fall in love?
I first fell in love Christmas of my junior year of high school, with my first “real” boyfriend.

16. Can you tell me about your first kiss?
It was in 5th grade! I kissed my boyfriend at the time—we dated on and off throughout elementary school…So dramatic. The class was leaving for lunch time and myself, my boyfriend, A., and my best friend, P., planned this scheme so that we could kiss. Basically we all got in the back of the line and right when the class left myself and A. kissed once my friend P. gave the “signal.” We then giggled and ran out of the classroom and basically pretended nothing happened. Another boy who liked me found out somehow and told on me, and the school called my parents. My parents just thought it was funny. Isn’t that ridiculous?

17. What was your first serious relationship?
Although it only lasted a month, I would say my relationship with S. was serious—we got together after freshmen year of high school, in the summer. It was the summer I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol and boys. Fun times! Until S. went to rehab four weeks into our “relationship.” We wrote letters back and forth, but now he is a psychopath. I absolutely hate him. He dated one of my best friends and ruined her self-confidence. I was so young, and even though I hate him now, I still care about him for some reason.

18. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Hell no!

19. Do you ever think about previous lovers?
Hell yes! How can one not? I think it helps me handle current “lovers” and give advice to friends.

20. What lessons have you learned from your past relationships?
Never date a jealous person, never date a person with anger issues. Never date a libertarian. Never date a frat boy.

21. Can you tell me about your religious beliefs/spiritual beliefs? What is your religion?
I have no religion, my father is Tibetan Buddhist. My mother is an atheist. I have been to Christian churches and Buddhist temples, and I love/respect both religions’ beliefs, but I don’t affiliate with a religion. I find my religion incredibly interesting though!

22. Have you experienced any miracles?
No! And if I did experience a miracle, I’d probably attribute it to something else, or rationalize it, because I have a hard time believing in miracles.

23. What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
I haven’t had one…maybe I will someday!

24. Do you believe in God?
I don’t believe in God, or gods, or spirits, or ghosts or anything of the sort. I used to “try” to because all of my friends believed in God in elementary school. I even used to pray when I was little before bed, I had no idea what I was doing. It would go something like, “Dear God, please protect me and my family and my dog.”

25. Do you believe in the after-life? What do you think it will be like?
No, I don’t believe in the afterlife.

26. When you meet God, what do you want to say to Him?
If I met God, I would be incredibly surprised.

27. What is your ethnic background?
English, Irish, German, Japanese

28. Where is your family from?
My mother is from Tokyo and my father is from St. Louis.

29. Have you ever been there? What was the experience like?
I’ve never been to Japan, but I really do want to visit! I’ve never been to St. Louis…I have little interesting going. It sounds hot and humid!

30. What traditions have been passed down in your family?
I can’t think of any. Maybe opening one present the night before Christmas. But we didn’t do that this year because I went to my boyfriend’s family’s house on Christmas Eve. 
31. Who are your favorite relatives?
My uncle Tom! He’s just like my dad, but younger. So I can treat him like an uncle-y version of my dad. He’s hilarious and so nice!

32. Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?

33. What are the classic family stories? Jokes? Songs?
My dad used to tell me the story of “The Magic Forest,” where little girls could make a wish on a magic tree. There would usually be some moral lesson, I’m sure.

34. Can you talk about any barriers your parents or you have faced in education, housing, health, work, entertainment, shopping or otherwise?
We’ve been pretty lucky. We don’t have very much money and my parents are in debt from the house, but because they both work for the government (public teacher and public defender), we’ve been able to receive health insurance and all necessities. I believe that’s wonderful. We’ve always traveled in the summers, even though it causes some credit card debt. But my dad says it’s too important to travel as a family to worry about bills! “We’ll pay it off later” is his attitude. I assume it’s working. 

35. Do you know where your family came from? If yes, what do you know about that history?
My mother’s family were all Japanese peasants and farmers until my grandmother got a job as a secretary during World War II and married an American (my grandfather). My father’s family have all been rich doctors. My great-great-great-etc uncles/grandfathers were the first psychiatrists and child psychiatrists west of the Mississippi. My great-great-great-great-great (I think five greats?) uncle was William Clark (from Lewis and Clark!) One of my family members died on the Titanic and left us a summer house in Maine where we go every year. He was the vice president of the grand trunk railroad. We’re also related to George Bush :(

38. Do you have any stories about the city you live in?
I was born/raised in Denver. I love Denver :)

39. What principles or morals do you live by?
Open-mindedness and generosity (that’s what I try to live by at least).

40. What is the toughest decision you have ever made? How did you make it?
The hardest decision I made was changing my major. I went with my gut. It was so scary, to change my entire life path from Filmmaker to Physical Therapist. Film was literally all I knew since I was 12! It was terrifying, even taking an Algebra class for the first time since 10th grade. I had so much catching up to do, and I’m so glad I did it.