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


Once upon a time I was 4 years old with ribbon bows in my long brown hair. It’s my first day of school. Ever. Pre-school. Our teacher has asked us to line up in pairs as we prepare to go to the assembly. My classmates are lining up at the door and I stand quietly alone and wait. Another girl, about my size, short black hair pushed back in a headband, approaches me and takes my hand. “I’ll be your friend,” she says. I smile and we walk toward the door.

Now I am 6 on Valentine’s Day. Our teacher is teaching us a song: “Will you be my valentine valentine valentine? Will you be my valentine? I love you!” My classmates take turns singing to each other and responding “Yes I’ll be your valentine valentine valentine! Yes I’ll be your valentine, I love you!” Girls sing to one another. Boys sing to boys. Everyone giggles. Then he stands up—the boy who has a crush on me. He turns to me and sings. Mortified, my face glows red. Everyone is laughing and teasing and I burry my head in my arms on my desk. “No!”

I’m still 6. We’re playing jump rope at recess. The mean girl from my Girl Scout troop starts shoving me. She’s bigger than me. I lose my balance. I fall to the concrete face first splitting my bottom lip open. I shriek and cry as I’m taken to the nurse’s office. I stay there for the remainder of the school day, upset and sniffling, as my mom ices my lip.

Suddenly I’m 7 and I live in Texas. I go to a new school where I have no friends and I still wear ribbon bows in my hair. Our school doesn’t have a playground, only a giant field where the students run and play. I’m alone, but I’m not lonely. I’ve discovered the butterflies that flit and flutter along the back fence at the edge of the field. I spend my time catching and releasing butterflies. Studying the different types, picking favorites, cupping them one by one between my palms and then setting them free. I’m a butterfly too.

There is a saying that goes, “give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.”  These snapshots are a few of my most vivid early memories. From what I can recall, I was silent, but easily made friends. I was remarkably curious and afraid of everything. I was very smart, but never good enough. Giving, but easily taken from. Observant. Stubborn. Full of life. My childhood consisted of forming relationships and losing them. Hurting others and being hurt. Succeeding and failing. Laughing and crying. Life is full of constant motion—forward, backward, and all around motion. Things change, people grow, but there are also things that remain constant. Although I have grown to be more fully myself, I don’t think I am any less child-like (not childish) than I was at 7 years old.

When I think of my childhood, I think of a magical time when everything was uncharted territory and the world full of wonder. Growing older is a disenchanting experience. Adults are supposed to be serious, not whimsical. Being able to see the world as full of life and beauty and awe is a gift and a challenge. I never want to lose this special gift—this eye for constant magic, love, and goodness in the world.