There are more than 1.3 million immigrants in Toronto. This is more than the total population of Calgary. Even in a city as diverse and welcoming as Toronto, immigration can be a challenging experience. At some point in our lives, we lived through this experience and we all know how difficult the assimilation process can be.
What it does
With that said, our team wants to ease newcomer experiences through our web app Settle. We match new immigrants with older immigrants, granting the immigrants a gateway to their ethnic community in Toronto, allowing new immigrants to get real feedback and advices from an experienced and older immigrants, mentors gaining volunteer hours and giving back to the community, and most importantly, meaningful and genuine personal connections.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
At first, we focused on creating a mobile app so we used React Native. However, we had trouble integrating IBM Watson because it was poorly documented. Although our designer finished creating user interfaces of the mobile app, in the end, we compromised and created a web app instead in order to finish the project.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to agree on an idea and saw the finish line of our idea. It took us hours of brainstorming because we all wanted to solve different problems, but we were able to pull through together as a team and stay committed to our hack right until the last second of the hackathon. We also got IBM Watson API to work!
What we learned
Learning React Native and Node.js for the first time were definitely two huge hurdles for our team but we did it! Our front-end was able to improve her HTML/CSS skills, whereas our designer was able to create clean mockups quicker, and be able to learn to use GitHub and IBM Watson's Conversation as well. Our back-end developers learned how to work with Socket IO library and integrate it with IBM Watson API to create a Chatbot.
What's next for Settle
Settle could grow bigger with more features added as the app complements services provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). We've had many features in mind, but after creating a survey in ElleHacks' Slack, it was obvious that the next steps for Settle is to integrate Watson's Language Translator API to translate the newcomer’s foreign language to English, and the mentor’s replies to English. We would also like to link newcomers to real Facebook/WhatsApp groups (i.e. Korean Christian Facebook group), credits mentors’ contribution in helping newcomers as volunteer hours/community service that could be put on resume, incorporate speech-to-text technology to overcome language barrier, and mentees sharing the app after finishing a conversation with the mentor to further reduce the discomfort that new immigrants experience.