Portals are gold-‐painted shipping containers that provide live connections to individuals around the world. Today, we can pick up a phone and call someone, we can text and even Skype, so why Portals?
We live in an interconnected world, when information travels quickly, economies are intertwined, and events occurring on another continent sometimes feel close to home. What’s missing from our Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and newspapers is the sense of truly knowing someone, the feeling of human connection.
Our schools increasingly embed global competency into their mission statements, and certainly it is as crucial as ever to engendering in our students an awareness of different cultures and value systems. But the typical American tween or teen leads a heavily scheduled and often scripted life, without the direct, focused conversations that lead to deeper understanding.
To put it briefly, today’s youth communicate constantly but rarely engage. Portals encourage full-‐body, face-to-face discussions with people one has never met and may not meet again. When you enter the Portal, you leave behind your own context as does your partner, and external sounds are filtered out. Both parties feel as if they are in the same room. Many report that time stands still. The intensity of the human interaction is the real power of Portals. Children, it turns out, have the same hopes and dreams all over the world.
Matching Your Mission
Public and private schools have recognized the importance of fostering global competence in their students. Schools can serve their communities and foster a deeper understanding of global politics, economics, and social trends by engaging students through dialogue with educational institutions around the globe. Portals address 21st century skills such as collaboration and teamwork, creativity and imagination.
They can support learning across all grade levels and in various academic disciplines, including but not limited to:
- Social studies and history
- Foreign language
- Fine and performing arts
- Civics and government
- Criminal justice