What is Home?

Victoria Pantoja

Research Questions

1. Can the meaning of home go beyond a physical structure?

2. Do the experiences in life as an immigrant shape their idea of home?

3. Do all immigrants have the same idea of home?


Connie Hwang, SJSU Graphic Design Professor
Primary Advisor

Yoon C. Han, SJSU Graphic Design Assistant Professor
Secondary Advisor

Ana Navarrate, SJSU UndocuSpartan Program Coordinator
Tertiary Advisor


For decades migrants have chosen to expatriate from one place to another for variety of reasons ranging from violence, a better way of life, family upbringing, and other reasons. The willpower to leave home results in a complex situation where they are compelled to acclimate to a new environment, cultures and build new relationships in a foreign land. How are the exchanges of culture, experience, customs, objects, and beliefs convert to one another? And most, importantly how does this shape our interpretation of home as immigrants? The question of what is home? has a strong personal connection to my family, my friends, to immigrants around the world, and myself. I was born in Mexico and called it home for years, until I moved to a different country, then different

state and finally to live here in California. As a immigrant child living in different areas I grew up in a place far from home, yet my real home is my family. However, for other immigrants their meaning of home can range from different areas, people, and etc. This thesis project will not only examine the harmony between the meaning of home but the sense of belonging from the perspective of a migrant. For this, I plan on interviewing individuals who have expatriated to the U.S. By asking them to either draw out, write out, or talk about their meaning of home. I aim to conceive a sense of empathy and understanding on what home is for immigrants.

Survey Interviews

To get a better understanding of the meaning of home for immigrants, I was able to interview people who migrated to the America by asking them 5 sets of questions regarding the topic. Through personal interviews conducted by myself the participants wrote our, drew out, or talked about their answers. I chose individuals ranging from different ages, status, gender, race and different generations. After the interviews and gathering the data I started to realize how different these individuals were and how important it was to understand the data from the interviews. People often think that immigrant are always Hispanic but in reality there is a huge variation of immigrants. This was important because every immigrant has a different story and background to tell.

Survey Questions

What is your definition of home?

Are there certain sounds or smells that remind you of home?

Why did you or your family migrate here? Or How long have you or your family been here

How did the experiences shape your meaning of home?

How long did it take until you felt like you were at home?


These are the finalized illustrations that were created to connect with the key words coming from the interviewee and their meaning of home. They are very simplified and to the point. As for the secondary illustrations that were used in the beginning of the motion graphic to help the viewers understand visually. Using orange tones throughout the sets of illustrations for a sense of warmth and belonging was essential to captivate the feeling of home. Additionally, using other colors such as blue, yellow, and dark blue are used as a pop of color

Motion Graphic Outcome

By using Adobe After Effects I created a motion graphic to visually enhance the stories behind each immigrants meaning of home. This short animated video uses a combination of illustrations, interview audio, portraits, and story telling all in a few minutes. In order to get a clear and focused idea of what the motion graphic would potentially look like, I created a rough storyboard sketch of what each scene would be animated and digitalized. Through customizing illustrations to the corresponding interviewee key words and audio from the interview to get viewers to hear and see what each participants story is about. Each interviewee has a different tone of voice and story that helps viewers understand their stories. I want viewers to be able to walk away from watching the motion graphic, and really understand that home is much more than a physical thing.

Each interviewee has a different tone of voice and story that helps viewers understand that home is more than a physical thing.

Website and Social Media

As a way to display my thesis I decided to create social media accounts and a website that everyone can access. Here my main audience - which is American society - will be able to fully access my process. They will be able to check out participants profiles, full interview audio, the motion graphic, social media links, my thesis book, along with my process.



In the end, this project was a great way to incorporate multiple visual elements to deliver a powerful message. This topic was not only close to my heart but is something important to share with the world. People often find immigrants bad people or bad influences and don't even give them the chance of day. But with this motion graphic, I believe people will be able to understand that immigrants are people like us who just had to move to another place. But in their hearts they know where their true home lies.

  2020 timeiswhatyoumakeofit