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Writes of Passage

Diana Chao talks about her experiences as a Chinese-American immigrant, struggles with mental illness and the journey that led her to start Letters to Strangers, a nonprofit that aims to help young people facing similar challenges through letter writing

By Xie Yi Updated Mar.14

Born in Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, Diana Chao moved to the US with her family when she was 12 years old.

As a teenager, she founded Letters to Strangers, a youth-run nonprofit dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness and encouraging youth around the world to communicate and help each other through anonymous letter-writing exchanges.

Now a sophomore at Princeton University, Chao discusses what she has learned from her own struggles with mental illness, her experience as a Chinese-American immigrant and the detours she took to discover who she really is.