Diana Chao china, 18

project: Letters to Strangers 
basic human NEEDS: Education, Food, Health, Shelter

Theme Song: “Saturn” by Sleeping At Last

Driven by both her personal mental health challenge and the loss of a friend to suicide, Diana founded Letters to Strangers (L2S). L2S is a platform for youth around the world to communicate in a positive and encouraging way through letter-exchanging campaigns. Recognizing that mental illness is a commonality among all nationalities and socioeconomic levels, Diana sees the power of the topic to instill empathy and compassion for people from all walks of life. Determined to tackle the global stigma of mental illness, especially among youth, Diana spearheads mental health campaigns both locally and in nations where mental illness is culturally blasphemous. Expanding its mission, L2S has raised funds for the construction of schools, job training and disaster relief, impacting more than 25,000 individuals globally. Already partnering with schools on three continents, Diana is spending a gap year before attending Princeton to further expand the global chapters of her organization. She will also be creating a sub-project, “The Asian-American Atlas.”

The Atlas will be a multimedia storytelling catalog with interactive calls to action to help immigrants adjust in their new communities. The funds she generates from the project will go to further support immigrants and refugees. A first generation immigrant herself, Diana hopes to break down the stereotypes that increase the risk for unnoticed mental and physical disorders.