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


3. Who has been the biggest influence on your life?  What lessons did that person teach you?
My mom has been the biggest influence on my life. Obviously, she has been there since the day I was born. She has taught me everything and shaped who I am.  Most of my moral compass is shaped based on what she emphasized throughout my life. She taught me to always give things a try regardless of the odds. She taught me to stand up for myself, but to remember to feel compassion for others. She taught me to pursue a path of happiness and to never take advantage of people’s kindness.

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?
My uncle passed away when I was ten years old. Although I do not have a whole bunch of memories of him because he passed away when I was young, the memories I do have are all extremely warm and fun. He built a canal that ran through my grandma’s rose garden and built a simple wood bridge with a sign that said K.’s bridge. I have memories of him taking me on shopping sprees on my birthday and always just making me laugh. While my other family members tend to be more serious he was full of love and laughter and I feel that spirit sometimes. We share the same curiosity that sometimes proves to be a bit dangerous. We love to live and to take chances. 

6. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
I’ve learned that time is the most valuable thing you can give a person because you can never get it back.  I’ve learned that life can be utterly unfair and the worse things often happen to the best people while the best things happen to the worse people.  I learned that life gains purpose when you live for something beyond yourself. I learned that life is a journey of perfecting and improving one thing at a time. I’ve learned that there are many people who will try to knock you down and it is better to have a few solid people in your corner than a large number of people only there for the sunny days. 

7. What is your earliest memory?
One of my earliest memories is being at my babysitter house when I was two or three and there was a steep driveway. There was a tricycle that had a bench hitched to the back. I agreed to sit on the bench with no driver on the tricycle and was released from the middle of the steep driveway.  This ended disastrously with me crashing in the porch on the bottom of the driveway and I still have a scar next to my eye to remember it.  

10. How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
Lately my life has been much different than what I expected. Before coming to college I planned to pursue a degree that would lead to me a high paying job. Isn’t that the point of college?  To make money? Coming to LMU to a big city and to a college where most kids come from far above average income families has changed my desires for my future. I have observed, and now truly understand the saying that money does not buy happiness.  LMU has also given me the opportunity to be surrounded by some astounding young people who have accomplished and are accomplishing things beyond what I thought capable of people my age. It has helped me to reevaluate what is important and what I want from life. It has also challenged me to push my limits on what I thought I was capable of.  

11. How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as being genuine. I know that everyone will not like me. Although I may seem quiet at first, I am very opinionated and have no problem telling people how I feel if I feel it is necessary. I hope that I am remembered for handling these issues with grace. I hope that I am remembered as someone who contributed to something bigger, someone who looked to help others. I want to be remembered as a person who was happy and lived life fully.   

12. Do you have any regrets?
I only have a couple regrets if any, and that was the anger I showed in the process of my last breakup. Being that it was my first serious relationship and I felt young and extremely vulnerable. I was very volatile. I said and did things out of anger that I am not proud of and I hope to never revisit that side of myself. 

13. What does your future hold?
Absolutely no idea!!! And that’s soo frightening but sooo exciting!!!
18. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Absolutely not! Love is so much deeper than anything that can be captured by looking at someone. I believe that there is lust at first sight in which you are extremely physically attracted to someone. I also believe that you can feel chemistry between yourself and someone just by looking at them. Judging the way people act and hold themself can be very telling and sometimes I think you can tell right away whether you and another person will “click.”

20.What lessons have you learned from your relationships?
I’ve learned there is a thin line between love and hate. I learned that the people who bring out the best in you are also capable of bringing out the worst in you. I learned that it is never worth it to lose yourself to anger and that every situation needs to be handled with grace. I learned that you can’t change a person and that the best way to handle a situation is by focusing on what you can do different. I learned that no relationship is perfect and that it is up to you to decide what problems are deal breakers and what problems are ones that you can overlook or even learn to love. I learned that love is not always enough, and that sometimes there are other situational factors that will prevent the relationship from working. I learned that love embraces a person for all that they are and doesn’t try to change them. I learned that you cannot love or give of yourself if you do not love yourself because you will not allow yourself to be vulnerable and instead of giving to another person you will look to constantly protect yourself. I learned that forgiveness sets you free and that there are no bad experiences just hard lessons.    

21. Can you tell me about your religious beliefs/spiritual beliefs? What is your religion?
I am Christian. I am ashamed to admit that I rarely go to church and that it kind of bores me. I believe in God and heaven.  Through the exposure I have received at LMU I believe that my faith is strengthening and lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about my relationship with God.  

24. Do you believe in God?
Yes! 100%!

25. Do you believe in the after-life? What do you think it will be like?
I believe that we go to heaven. I believe that heaven is perfect and that your soul goes on to live and reunite with those who have passed before you. Although I hate to admit it, I also do believe in hell. If all is forgiven I’m not sure what would cause someone to go to hell? I guess if you didn’t believe in God?

26.When you meet God, what do you want to say to Him?
“Welcome, my child.  I love you. “  And then point me to the relatives and friends that have gone before me!

27. What is your ethnic background?
I am Japanese American.

39. What principles or morals do you live by?
Live today fully and take full advantage of every opportunity that God provides. Never take any person or opportunity for advantage, take time to thank God for the blessings he has provided for you. Never step on someone else in order to succeed.  

42. How do you deal with sadness? Anger?
I do lots of talking. I call my mom, my boyfriend, and my best friends and I vent. I let myself cry or rant. Then when the height of the emotion is settled I spend lots and lots of time thinking.  I think about why the situation is having such an impact on my emotions and how I can deal with the person or situation. I also like to listen to music or go shopping.