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


16. Can you tell me about your first kiss? 
His name was John and we were in the first grade. I’m not entirely sure how I fell for him at the age of six but I fell hard man. What I remember about John is that he had a big head of brown curly hair and was completely apathetic about most things, but he did make me laugh. It was during gym period; our class was lined up at the water fountain in the storage room on our drink break. I made sure we were the last two in line and as John finished getting his sip of water I got real close to him and said something along the lines of, “Wanna kiss me?” And we did. It was wet and kind of awkward but I was into it. Clearly, I was a dominant woman who knew what she wanted–even as a first grader. My kisses since then have been fairly exciting…sometimes not so exciting. The great ones have sent fireworks through my chest and made the world feel like it was melting around me. The bad ones confirmed that the great ones are worth waiting for. 

20. What lessons have you learned from your relationships?
You can’t make a person want to be with you. Sometimes you just have to let go and understand that things are not meant to be. Primarily because we are not all brave enough to fall in love. I recently had a discussion with one of my best guy friends in which we agreed we had feelings for each other. I was honest and vulnerable and truthful to the point of no return. The next morning he confessed that he wanted to spend everyday with me over and over again, that he wanted to love me and give me everything in the world, but that he just couldn’t. He suddenly just “didn’t feel it.” Despite the black hole enveloping the place where my heart used to be, I realized that you just can’t make people feel things. I can’t make him love me, I can’t make him face his deepest insecurities, I can’t make him strong, I can’t make him happy. Only we can do that for ourselves.

22. Have you experienced any miracles?
I don’t believe in miracles. I believe the universe conspires in the ways we will and imagine and my place at LMU is a perfect example. Once upon a time I was only interested in the arts and all things creative. I took my SATs and bombed the mathematics section after years of struggling in school with quantitative subjects. All I wanted was to get out of the state I was from and free myself from the desert and family responsibilities, I wanted a new start. What I got was many many rejection letters and one acceptance to my state university. However, I enrolled knowing that I wouldn’t end up there. I have always had these unrealistic, slightly delusional visions for myself and this was no exception. Two weeks before I would move into my new dorm room I received a letter from Loyola Marymount University, admitting me off the waitlist. Thanks to my insane new age thinking aunt I might be considered slightly crazy for believing that I willed myself into this university because I was meant to be here…but I do. I think we create the life we imagine and we engineer our own circumstances, this means that anything can happen. 

36. Do you have any stories about your family’s experience leaving the place you were born?
I left the city I was born in at age three around the same time my mother divorced my biological father due to alcoholism, violent behavior, and his tendency to sleep with other women. When she did so, he relinquished his parental rights. He literally signed a document saying that he didn’t want my brother or me anymore. My mother met a new man and this prompted our move to the city I grew up in. I had a charmed childhood until my mother divorced for the second time and alcoholism claimed the man I had called my father once again. He became apathetic and mean, consumed by depression and substance abuse. He took his own life before I started high school and we immediately picked up and left once again. For me, these cities hold so much darkness and childhood nostalgia I can never decide if I love them or hate them. I wouldn’t consider them my home because I’ve moved around enough times to know that home is where your loved ones are. 

39.What principles or morals do you live by?
All things happen for a reason. 
Nature is where I feel most at peace and connected to the earth. 
Humanity is interconnected. 
The present moment holds the greatest potential for happiness. 
Love is the driving force of living wholeheartedly and fully. 
We understand our purpose in being human when we serve another. 
It takes vulnerability and courage to create something and set it free into the world. 
Solidarity is really just a common life force realized through the act of relating to another. 
Staying true to yourself means trusting your vision and listening to your inner sense of self.