Design. Illustration. Data.

︎ ︎ ︎


Fooding is an app that helps immigrant families and individuals integrate into the US with the help of food.


Timeline: 1 month
My Role: UX designer & researcher
Collaborators: Sanjana Singh & Noor Kamal


Immigrant families-both parents and children are at an increased risk for loneliness and social isolation due to factors such as language barriers, cultural barriers, and being unfamiliar with the new environment that they immigrated to. As estimated by the 2017 Current Population Survey, an estimated 27% of US residents are immigrants. Additionally, there is a lack of knowledge about where to meet people and how to meet people, creating little room for genuine connections to be made in real life between immigrants and other people, which leads to overall trends of loneliness, social isolation, and depression.

Target population: This targets immigrant families: parents who immigrated to the United States, children who immigrated, or children of parents who immigrated to the U.S.


To alleviate the loneliness and lack of connections experienced by immigrants - parents moving to America and their children. Immigrant families come to a new location without an existing social network in the area they are living in, making them desire social connections where they live and feel more comfortable and connected. Immigrants want to connect either with people their age or other children of immigrants, and parents want to connect with other parents.


Questions we asked:

Children of immigrant parents

  • How did it feel when you first moved to America?
  • How old were you when you moved?
  • Where did you move from?
  • Was it easy to connect with other children, immigrant or nonimmigrant? Can you tell us about a specific social experience?
  • What was the role of school in aiding your transition?
  • Do you connect with other children of immigrants (from the same country as you/your parents)?
  • Did you do cultural clubs or extracurriculars to help you find friends?


  • Did you already know people in the town you moved to when you moved? Did that shape your move to this town?
  • Why did you decide to move to this town?
  • What resources did you find that helped mitigate the cultural shock?
  • What resources do you wish existed that could have helped you?
  • What was it like meeting other parents, immigrant or nonimmigrant?
  • What helped ease your transition?
  • Were there any frustrations when you moved?
  • Do you think those still exist today?
  • How long did it take for you to feel fully assimilated to the US?


An affinity diagram was created to better organize findings.

︎ Key insights

A main reason for moving to the United States was to get a job and to go to school (or for participant’s children to go to school). School was extremely impactful in helping people transition because of the community of people and because of the cultural programs that were offered. Additionally, they often reached out to nearby friends and family to help with transition or frequented local religious and cultural communities.

Immigrants faced significant language and cultural barriers when they moved. Varying fluency levels in English contributed to how difficult the language barriers were. In three of our interviews, the participants all reported there being a minimal language barrier, only an accent difference or no language barrier at all. In an additional interview, they reported that they had a significant language barrier that impacted their ability to integrate. They found it difficult to communicate with other students in elementary school due to this and even was in ESOL to learn English. Evidently, the language barriers faced by immigrants are vastly different depending on fluency.

Lastly, immigrants also faced racism after moving to the country. Throughout our interviews, participants recounted experiences when they were treated unfairly or differently because of their background.


People and Setting: Families or individuals who immigrated to the US and are experiencing loneliness.

Core Tension: Our stakeholders want opportunities, guidance, or resources to help immigrants and immigrant families overcome cultural shock and the language barrier, as well as meet other people to smoothly integrate into the new country and to create a diverse social network. However, there exists very little resources to meet this need, and those that exists often are difficult to find and access.

Axioms: Accessibility is a major goal that we strive to achieve; we hope to create this product for immigrants from all different backgrounds. Additionally, ensuring accessibility across a variety of backgrounds including people who may not have access to as many resources is something that we hope to achieve, though it will be difficult to ensure. Working with NGOs can help us (or in the future, we would want to work with immigration services) make this product known. Our final product will also include visual and physical accessibility abilities. We would want this to be available on all platforms.

Value of problem: Immigrant parents, immigrant children, or children of immigrant parents are at a disadvantage as compared to non-immigrant families, because they are not used to the culture of the are they live in. We believe that everyone has a right to fulfilling social connections and friendships that make a person - immigrant or non-immigrant - feel right at home in the United States. That is where the value lies - helping a person who just came to the United States create a community for themselves.

Shortcomings of existing solutions: Currently, there is an app called Settle In that teaches refugees about refugee resettlement to the United States through gamified lessons in the user’s native language. Tarjimly helps millions of refugees and people in need of humanitarian assistance who struggle with language barriers and lets you translate anything in real-time. Other apps like Arrived is a one-stop shop for newcomers to the United States, a resource hub that informs new immigrants about what's happening in the news vis-a-vis immigration, how they can find help when they need it, and even how to learn English. However, these apps are all very resource heavy, and they do not provide the members of an immigrant family actual tools and guidance to build or diversify their social connections.



The final product concept is an app that helps immigrant families and individuals integrate into the US with the help of food.‍

Immigrants and nonimmigrants can host a 'fooding', which is a food meetup event in which they can invite anyone. This allows people to enjoy free food from different cultures, share or learn about different traditions and cultures, and meet people from various backgrounds.



Hypotheses: Our solution is efficient and approachable to use to people from immigrant and non immigrant backgrounds. It supports correct use and is accessible to users from different backgrounds and with different needs. Users will know how to attend or host a fooding with this product.

Scenario 1: You just moved to Cambridge from Beijing. You want to meet another immigrant who speaks Cantonese near you over food that you made for them.
Task: Create a profile/onboard and set up a fooding. [Goal: test out hosting a Fooding logic sequence]

Scenario 2: You just moved from San Francisco to LA and want to meet some people with similar backgrounds to you. Oh no! Your stove caught on fire so you can’t cook for people anymore. You really miss steamed buns especially as Lunar New Year is coming up. You want to attend an event in a 10 mile radius to meet people and eat steamed buns.
Task: Find an event with these properties and sign up for it. [Goal: test out attending a Fooding logic sequence]

Scenario 3: After a few months in the US, you feel comfortable with your English skills. Ensure that the Fooding app knows that you are comfortable with English as a language.
Task: Make sure that Fooding knows you can speak English. [Goal: test whether it is intuitive to find the accessibility/profile page]

Scenario 4: You hit your head really hard and cannot remember if you signed up to host a Fooding next week.
Task: Check what upcoming foodings you are hosting.‍ [Goal: test out the flow of viewing upcoming hosting]


Onboarding tutorial: Addition of an onboarding sequence. Participant 2 said she needed everything clearly laid out for her when it comes to completing a task. The creation of the onboarding was in response to the fact that people didn’t know what the icons were supposed to do or where the icons led to during the usability evaluations.

Different icon for creating a fooding: The original icon for creating a fooding was confusing (a notepad), so we changed it to a plus icon. 

‍Present location on map: In response to the lack of confusion about where the person presently is on the map, we put a red location point on the map. This will make it easier for people to ascertain where they want to put the radius in the filter.

Color change of confirm attendance button: Both participant 1 and participant 2 discussed the color and size of the “confirm attendance”  button. Participant 2 just kept clicking “the big blue button” to push ahead, and participant 1 noted that it should be a different color because it blends in with everything else.

‍Feedback after confirming to attend a fooding: After confirming to attend a fooding, the map that the user is brought back to is not updated with that confirmation. Therefore, after a user confirms their attendance to a fooding, the fooding that they are attending will have a check mark next to it on the map and be in blue.

‍Tutorial with pictures: One participant noted that in the tutorial page, they would rather visually see where it is rather than just read about it. Therefore, we linked the option to go through the walkthrough tutorial again. Additionally, we also added pictures to aid in the explanations.



Michelle Liu

Currently in: Cambridge, MA ︎


︎ I am a senior at Harvard College majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Studio Arts. I have interests in design, visual arts, and data.

︎ Outside of school, I love to paintdraw, animate, and photograph in my free time. You can find me bouldering, trying out new cuisines, and watching sunsets.


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