As joyful young kids, our parents often recounted stories about their experiences in adjusting to a new culture in the United States, stemming from diverse ethnic groups from around the world. With great adventure and excitement, however, also comes a fair deal of hardships that one might go through in getting comfortable in an environment where you know no-one else expect yourself. You might be interested in learning about getting a driver's license to drive to work and the farmer's market every day. You might be interested in expanding your linguistic horizons. You might even be thinking about settling down, securing a job, and raising a family. To do all of this, you might usually have to invest hours on end to find what you're looking for; and this barely crosses the surface. You'll have to surmount an even bigger mountain: having almost no-one to go to if you had legitimate questions that you couldn't find anywhere.

So as children of immigrant parents, we set out to learn: how can we help immigrants navigate the unimaginable barrier that they face when they enter a new country? Why was there a lack of assistance and such a high entry barrier for immigrants, and how can we make it easier for maybe lower income and disadvantaged families?

Upon greater research we realized that, according to a 2014 study conducted by the Global Citizen publication, the top 7 issues facing most immigrants today include; difficulty speaking and learning English, raising children who are successful in school, securing work, securing housing, accessing services, transportation, and cultural barriers. So, we set out this weekend to solve this problem, creating a “one-stop-shop” for immigrants which has resources about all kinds of problems as well as tools to help solve them.

What it does

Kite Learning has three main categories: Practical Learning, Tutoring, and Community. First and foremost, our Practical Learning service, or as we call it, the “Learning Space” provides many resources, facts, and explanations of various things that immigrants will need in order to live, such as how to set up a bank account, find a job, or get healthcare, in addition to providing information about other bureaucratic processes such as applying for citizenship or getting a driver’s license. Next, the tutoring service allows users to connect with other people in their area who speak their native tongue and can help the user out by answer deeper and more complicated questions and well as guiding the user through essential processes. Finally, the Community service allows users to interact with other users and therefore arrange social gatherings and other events to help immigrants overcome the uncomfortableness that categorizes the first part of time spent in America.

How we built it

We originally planned on building a mobile app to tackle this problem, however, upon recommendation from a mentor here at PennApps, we realized that a webapp would greater fit our needs, for it is more accessible than a mobile app as it can be used on any device with an internet connection. We used HTML5, CSS, and Javascript to create our site. In addition to these tools, we used external services like Drift for messaging and Google’s Firebase API and service to power our community forum. We explored and used web-dev frameworks such as Twitter’s Bootstrap to create simple but powerful UI components.

Challenges I ran into

As a team, the biggest challenge we faced was communication We had an idea in mind but found it troubling over the course of the hackathon to articulate what we wanted to say. In these moments, drawing a picture or doodling a sketch of our idea was the only thing that kept us going. Future years, writing down / doodling even a sketch may help a lot.

Accomplishments that we are proud of

We are proud of increasing our proficiency in using tools like Firebase to support our front-end applications and also of exploring and understanding many different frameworks and APIs that we can use to support our projects in the future. Most importantly, however, we are really proud of working towards a solution to a real world problem

What's next for Kite Learning

We intend to continue to grow Kite using word-of-mouth campaigning, and we are confident that Kite will be put to real world use soon, as we personally know many people who have been wanting concise and simple tools like this in order to streamline their first few months/years in the country. In terms of the product itself, we plan on multiple improvements that just were not implementable during a 36 hour hackathon, such as better UI components, streamlined searches to find content quicker, faster frameworks that reduce loading and operating time, and finally, a Tutor Portal that allows tutors to view the people who would like to connect with them and manage their tutoring schedule easily.

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