By Elizabeth Ucles
Going into the Portal, I did not entirely know what to expect. I mean, I was about to go into this golden shipping crate that was supposed to connect me with someone across the globe.
What was I going to say? what kind of questions would they ask me? Would I be awkward? My mind went into this experience loaded with questions. However, as I propelled myself into an eye-opening conversation, I soon learned that the selfish questions wandering through my mind were unnecessary.
Angeli and Jovanna, these two 16-year-old beauties from Honduras, were able to break down the walls I never even knew I put up. It was through the immersive technology by Shared Studios that I was able to have a seamless conversation with these ladies, as if we were standing in the same dark room.
The conversation started off with the usual questions that any stranger asks: What is your name? Where are you from? What are you studying? In the beginning, our conversation was facilitated by a translator in Honduras until I told them I could speak Spanish.
This casual exchange eventually turned into an enlightening conversation between countries.
I soon realized that the initiative of this project was not for me, a woman from the United States, to learn more about these two girls from another country—it was for me to forget just that.
When Angeli asked me what inspires me the most in my life, I gave her my honest answer: to be happy no matter what I do or how much money I make. I just want to be happy.
She let out an exhale of satisfaction and then told me that was the answer she had been looking for.
Angeli went on to explain to me that happiness is what keeps her going as well. She explained that God, her family, and her friends are her inspiration and her happiness.
During the next 15 minutes of our conversation, Angeli and Jovanna told me about their lives in Honduras. They told us about their favorite subjects in school, their families and pets, and what kind of music they like. After some badgering from Jovanna and me, Angeli even sang a little Whitney Houston for us!
The conversation that I had with these two girls was so heartwarmingly genuine. It showed me that the only real difference between us were the thousand miles in distance.
I now understand that connecting with someone across the globe is not just for the “wow” factor. The Portal is specifically designed to create an environment as if you were all in the same room.
The dark room forces you to fully embrace the other person so that you are forced to confront the awkwardness. You are faced with understanding the lives of other people who live in a different world whether that be drastically different or incredibly similar.