For one year, a Portal at Oakland International High School connected it to the globe. The school was founded to provide a quality alternative education for recently arrived immigrant students, with a focus on English language acquisition and in preparation for college. Weekly connections with Milwaukee, Honduras, Erbil, and Andover explored family, trust, political corruption, and a comparison of dance moves.
In the Harsham Internally-Displaced Persons & Refugee Camp, a converted pumping station serves as a portal to the rest of the world. Harsham Camp is on the outskirts of the city of Erbil in northern Iraq. The camp hosts 1,500 internally displaced Iraqi families who fled ISIS from Mosul and surrounding villages in mid-2014. Erbil is the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Region, which hosts around 1.5 million internally displaced Iraqis and almost 230,000 Syrian refugees. Through the portal, a young entrepreneur spoke with President Barack Obama and another with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The portal is made possible by UNICEF Iraq and Terre de Hommes.
Portals connected students from Harvard Divinity School to aid workers and residents of refugee and displaced communities around the world. Participants spoke about the role and impact of distance education and how new startups led by former refugees are being used to tackle problems created by new humanitarian crises.
The Biden Cancer Initiative used Portals to globalize their event, hosting dialogues between participants at the Biden Cancer Summit and people affected by cancer on five different continents. The event brought the world together in conversation about cancer research, care, and survivorship, and ensured accessibility to groups separated by geography. Thanks to the Portal, an international array of patients, caregivers, and researchers could participate in the event, share stories, and connect with a global community.
We gained new perspectives on space and exploration with a Portal during Kids Week at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The Intrepid_Portal connected young explorers of all ages with NASA researchers, environmental adventurers and spacecraft designers. Intrepid Portalers connected with Nic Scott, a researcher at NASA Ames Research Center, for an out-of-this-world discussion on exoplanets and the Solar System. We then connected with Tim Jarvis, acclaimed explorer and environmental activist, who spoke about recreating Shackleton’s journey and his record-setting trek – on foot – to the South Pole. Then, we connected with scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Los Angeles, where two researchers spoke about space and the atmosphere. We rounded out our planetary week by beaming into the Orion mock-up at Johnson Space Center, where rocket engineers described the process of building a crew module which will eventually carry astronauts to the moon and to Mars. They even shared their favorite types of space food (pro-tip: stock up on the mac and cheese)!