¡vaya! is an online platform that shares tales of culture, travel, and language through engaging visual stories. Accessible anywhere on a desktop, users can select from a variety of topics and learn about different cultural experiences from all over the world.
“Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers.” -Paulo Coelho
Like many of my peers, I did not have the opportunity to learn a foreign language until high school and was never really exposed to other cultures outside of my own. When I did have the opportunity, I fell in love with it. I found both the Spanish language and culture of Spanish speaking communities fascinating–from the different foods and traditions, to the beauty of the language and learning how powerful it is to be able to communicate with someone. However, the most important thing I learned is that learning about other cultures breaks down those barriers of prejudice you might have and opens you up to be more understanding. With the current state of the world, it’s more important than ever that we are culturally empathetic and compassionate. After all, we are ALL HUMAN.
Over the past year, I conducted tons of research from interviews to surveys and lit reviews in order to understand culture, foreign language, and how that is treated in America. I learned so much from my research like many Americans want to learn a foreign language, but it’s difficult to teach yourself if you don’t have the right resources or motivation to continue. Another important point that came up repeatedly is that language and culture are inherently linked. When you study a language, you are studying the culture as well. Therefore, language is a great conduit for sharing culture and vise versa. Many people agreed that language courses helped them to understand other cultures better and, therefore, be more empathetic towards them.
¡vaya! aims to solve this problem by being a platform for sharing stories and a resource for culture, language, and travel information. Overall, this platform is a great tool because it breaks stories down into easy to digest bits paired with bold colors and fun illustrations. Users not only learn history when they visit ¡vaya! but also bits of a new language with the hopes that it will spark their desire to learn more.
Here is an example of what the platform looks like on a desktop. Click here to play around with the prototype.
Julia will earn her BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Spanish this June from OSU. She loves to create, especially with her hands, and has come to love silkscreen printing, bookbinding, and fabric dyeing. She is inspired by language, culture, and is dreaming of the day when travel will be possible again. This fall, she will be departing to Cambodia to serve as an English teacher with the Peace Corps. Although she will be stepping outside of the design world, she plans to integrate design thinking into her teaching and return with a deeper understanding of our world.