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, text, and even Skype, so why Portals? And why Portals in schools?
We live in an interconnected world, where information travels quickly, economies are intertwined, and events occurring on a distant continent often feel close to home. We spend hours emailing, texting, and curating our Instagram and Facebook pages. What’s often missing from social media and newspaper reports is the sense of truly knowing someone, the feeling of human connection. The typical American tween or teen leads a heavily-scheduled, scripted life without direct, focused conversations that lead to deeper understanding.
Schools, meanwhile, are increasingly committed to developing global competency, as they seek to engender among students an awareness of different cultures and value systems. Portals create the opportunity for full-body, face-to-face discussions with people one has never met and may never meet again. They exist in communities all over the world, from refugee camps to innovation hubs to universities and schools, and are staffed by experienced curators and translators. They break down boundaries, physical and metaphorical, allowing us to essentially walk through the Internet. They have been described as "empathy machines."
When students enter a Portal, they leave behind their own context and feel as if they are in the same room with people miles away. 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 better serve their communities by exploring global politics, economics, and social trends, and Portals provide an effective medium for global engagement. Portals allow educators to address such "21st century skills" as innovation, communication, collaboration, and creative problem solving. They 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
We work with educational institutions to develop Portal-related curricula. We have experience working with children of all ages, and we can tailor educational materials to suit your student body and mission.