Republished with permission from Peace News Network
Written by Kate Roff
May 18th, 2018
A tech project is being hailed for its unique ability to connect ordinary citizens with other people from around the world – including former US President Barack Obama.
Shared_Studios is an organization that builds ‘portals’ in different countries so that video cameras can join people together, even if they’re from remote or conflict-related regions.
In these unassuming gold-colored shipping containers, international visitors get to meet each other, share meals together, contribute to entrepreneurial collaborations, and even compete in dance-offs – all from the comfort of their own countries.
Shared_Studios founder Amar Bakshi said the project is about celebrating cultural connections, and “curating the diversity of the world.”
“We have 30 portals around the world,” Bakshi said. “Every portal connects to every other portal in the network. When you enter one you come face-to-face with someone in an identical portal somewhere else on earth and can converse live, full body, as if in the same room.”
“When people come in they describe feeling as if they are breathing the same air. Kids think that they can walk up through the wall and hug people of the other side.”
Over 75,000 people have experienced the portals, which are run by local curators in locations such as Erbil, Iraq; Gaza City, Palestine; Kigali, Rwanda; and Mexico City. With eight sites in the US already, the initiative is set to launch in Australia, India, Lebanon, Yemen, and Colombia this year.
When Obama experienced the initiative firsthand, he was impressed. “It’s an amazing technology, making it seem like you’re standing right in front of me,” President Obama said, speaking to participants appearing on a life-size virtual screen.
Co-founder Michelle Moghtader says: “We want this to happen all over the world, for everybody. Any location can really be a portal, as long as it has internet and a source of electricity.”
Curators are quick to point out how much the portals mean to the community they are established in.
“Being in the portal project kind of changed my life,” said Milwaukee Portal Curator Lewis Lee, “but I think it’s just starting world peace.”
“No matter how far away we are, we can still be brothers and sisters,” said Mexico City Portal Curator Tomas Ramirez.
Be Sure To Share The Fascinating Story With Your Friends – Photo by Shared_Studios