Augustus Arthur - All Rights Reserved

A prompt-driven mobile storytelling platform for young immigrants that allows them to share their experiences and form friendships with shared cultural backgrounds.

Nearly one in five U.S. residents today is an immigrant or the child of an immigrant parent, the highest foreign-born share of U.S. residency in over a century. 

After moving to the U.S., youth feel a need to adapt to their new culture but also retain their home country traditions. In addition to this, we found that connecting to those with similar cultural backgrounds can be inspiring to young immigrants, but exposure to these relationships can be limited. 

In response to our research, we created M’asem, a mobile storytelling platform for young immigrants. M’asem is a Ghanaian Twi word which means ‘my story’. With M’asem, adolescent immigrants can share their stories by responding to daily prompts provided by the app, while forming friendships bonded with shared experiences and cultures.

Overview
Capstone Project for MHCID
March-August 2019 (6 months)

My Roles
UX Research
UX Design

Collaborators
Augustus Arthur

Hannah Johnson

Tanya Chang

Advisor

frog Design

Adolescent immigrants can browse today’s prompt or older prompts and the responses users created. As opposed to an open-ended creation platform, M’asem provides daily prompts on topics like food, music, culture and more for the community of users to respond to.

Explore the Community

Key Features

Share your Story

Users can browse through prompt responses made by other users with video, photography, audio, and writing. When users are inspired to share their own experiences, they can respond to prompts too, contributing back to the M’asem community.

Bond over Similar Experiences

They can connect with people from like cultures or their home country with a customizable search feature. With this feature, adolescent immigrants will be able to form and maintain meaningful relationships, another way to elevate their stories. 

Design Challenge

How might we leverage the existing network of eager youth to cultivate connection grounded in similar cultural backgrounds?

Research Questions​:

What role does extracurricular activity involvement play in the lives of local adolescent immigrants?

 

How do teenagers discover and make decisions about what extracurriculars they participate in?

Research Methods:

Office of Refugee
& Immigrant Assistance

Project Rise at
Seattle World School

Catholic Community Services

UW iSchool

Syrian Refugee Support

School's Out Washington 

Expert Interviews

We conducted six expert interviews to help gain a more holistic understanding of the adolescent immigrant experience in King County. Because we were going to be working with a marginalized population, we wanted to take extra care to lean on the knowledge of experts who work with refugees and immigrants.

Semi-Structured Interviews

We conducted semi-structured interviews as a means for direct contact and to collect firsthand personal accounts of participants. Our interviews focused on belonging, family, and extracurricular experiences.

Cultural Probes

We utilized cultural probes to help us encourage and support reflection on adolescence. These artifacts helped participants communicate with us clearly. We used it as an ice breaker to discuss their past experiences.

 

The probe consisted of three activities: 

  • Write a letter to your teenage self

  • Photograph inquiry of extracurricular activity engagement

  • Teenage world drawing exercise

Experience Map

Using an experience mapping activity during our sessions helped us visually document the journey of a participant’s involvement with a specific extracurricular activity depicted in chronological order.  Our goal with this experience mapping exercise was to help us better understand the stages of emotions involved in extracurricular involvement for our participants.

Insights

1

How might we leverage the existing network of eager youth to cultivate connection grounded in similar cultural backgrounds?

“First-generation immigrant youth, they want to learn English, they want to succeed but at the same time, their parents are afraid of them losing their language and culture.”

(State Refugee Coordinator)

2

Adolescent immigrants are eager to impact their communities through sharing their experiences.

“Since I moved, I've always wanted to be helpful to anyone like me who’s been in my case.”

(22 yrs, South Korea)

3

Connecting to those with similar cultural backgrounds can be inspiring to young immigrants, but exposure to these relationships can be limited. 

“I didn't have like, a person of color mentor. It was a lot of white people looking out for me. I wish I had someone that looked like me.”

(20 yrs, the Philippines)