Upon learning that the challenge of the hackathon was helping immigrants, we decided to start by identifying the problem. After interviewing various immigrants from different countries, including India, China, and Armenia, we identified the problem. Immigrants that come to America don't know what they don't know. They don't understand the systems, know what resources are available to them, and can't form a community on their own.
When we heard all the focus areas, we decided to tackle two by using one with another. To solve Focus Area #2 "Navigating Resources & Systems", we decide to employ Focus Area #4 "Finding Community". Specifically, we aim to alleviate pressure on services and let people find information from the people they trust the most - their community.
What people want
Through our research, we understood that people can only know what they need to learn through two methods: straight up experience, and talking with friends and family. The purpose of this application is to facilitate the construction of a community and prevent people from having to resort to learning everything the hard way. By connecting people with other members of their community, we can help create lasting friendships and help people understand what it takes to be successful in America.
The X-Factor of our application is the ability to create a community from the ground up. We achieve this by letting immigrants search for other people in the area that can potentially help them. A Kenyan man arriving in the US may feel comfortable interacting and becoming friends with a Kenyan family that has lived in the US for many years.
Users can enter search criteria and search their geographical community for people who fit that criterion. From there, they can reach out and potentially form a texting relationship. Eventually, they may even be able to meet each other in person and create a friendship. This is appealing to both new immigrants and people who have lived here for a long time and helps connect both groups with each other.
How we built it
We built the application from scratch using MongoDB, Express.js, Node.js, and Sketch to create raw HTML files.
Challenges we ran into
We ran into some initial difficulty with a few things, including:
- Properly translating large amounts of text into various languages
- Using React Native to build an app while the backend was locally hosted
- Balancing design, functionality, and time (pick 2!)
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud of learning new tools to create intelligent and user-friendly designs. Since a huge focus is on accessibility and iconography (to address individuals' potential illiteracy even in their native language), good frontend design is a vital feature of our project.
What we learned
We learned a lot about full stack development as a team. Beyond technology, we were exposed to the reality of refugees and immigrants in different situations than ours.
What's next for Telesis
Telesis is prime for production. Here are some of the tasks we foresee before sending it out to the public:
- True native language translation - instead of Google Translate, we need people to put in work
- A forum for people who don't want to immediately begin generating connections
It'll be hard to gain a large number of users at once in a geographical location, but since the value is in the users, there's no point letting a small trickle of users come in - it'll never grow. Thus, the next challenge is rapid user acquisition to allow the platform to grow.