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Portal to…


Portal created by Shared Space. Photo courtesy of Amar Bakshi.

If you have 20 minutes to spare, how about talking with someone in Herat, Afghanistan?  Or Tehran? Or Havana?  Don’t use your phone or Skype; use a Portal–it puts you (virtually) in the same room with your conversation partner.  You can try it out in Washington, DC between now and June 21. This concept has really fired my imagination.  It’s the brainchild of “an arts, design, and technology collective” called Shared Studios, and it gives random people a chance to experience the humanity of “the other”–someone who lives on the other side of one of the world’s political-cultural divides. The vehicle is a gold-painted, video-and-internet-equipped shipping container that’s connected to an identical installation in another part of the world.  Entering it is a bit like going into a movie theater, but you have to do it alone.  In the dark, all you can see is your conversation partner–life size and seemingly present in the room with you.  There’s a question to start with: what would make today a great day for you?  You follow whatever track the the conversation takes, and 20 minutes later you emerge into your own world again.  Nothing is recorded unless you request it, though you’re invited to share a reflection about the experience. The Shared Studios website includes opportunities to host a portal (cost not specified) or build one for $5000-$10,000.  I’m picturing this as a way for Durham Academy students to kick off 9th grade World Literature and World Cultures courses; lower and middle school students would love it, too.  And it could be shared with other schools, museums, scout troops, etc.  Could we find a partner school/city on the other side? I’m really interested in pursuing this.  What do you think, dear readers?

Categories: Education
  1. June 17, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Well, I know one rising 9th grader who is ‘over the moon’ about this being a possibility for this coming school year at DA! WOW!!

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