As if walking into a golden box didn't feel magical enough, once I stepped through the draped center part of its wispy black curtains, an enchanted travel nostalgia fell over me. Immediately I had been transported from the sidewalk of my Colorado University campus to Berlin, Germany. Three gentlemen sat across from where I stood, their bodies so closely to scale that it felt like we were in the same room. Shared_Studios had set up one of its portals next to the Library, but I felt like I was in a German cafe. With starstruck and giddy emotion, I joined another student from my city whom I had never met. Soon after, another peer joined us. The quality of the audio-video technology made the conversation effortless, because it was as though our parties were face to face.
Coming from someone who has gratefully "pinned" twenty-six countries to my bulletin board world map, the struggle of remaining stationary for a semester at college presents a lot of challenges, cabin fever being in the top three. I had heard on the public radio station that these portals existed, but was massively disappointed to learn that the site where it was hosted had just finished its tour. However, this day, whether by luck or by fate, my happenings happened to cross paths with a portal team facilitating these intercultural exchanges. [Hence why I was overwhelmed with excitement and such passion]. But I know so many of you relate! How many times do you travel abroad, study a new language or culture or religion, and feel like something comes alive from within your being? How much easier is it to study any of those things when you are immersed rather than when you feel stuck in one place? I never imagined that walking into a gold shipping container in my small-town-USA-home would have the ability to gift me with an international hour or two where I could connect with strangers like I was walking the streets there, myself.
I mentioned how I am using pushpins to affectionately track the countries I've visited.. looking at that map inspires me on days when it's hard to hold back from wandering and work hard in one place. And we can use pushpins for various purposes: on dreamboards, for been-there's, and even hanging up grocery store lists. How many of you have seen maps with pushpins on your travels? In these instances, we use them to leave our mark on a place. Choose a color for the gem of your pin and sign your signature on the hostel's world-map-guestbook by pinning into the place where you originate or call home. But there's a growing number of us who don't feel our home is in one place anymore. We find our home as we become ourselves, journeying the globe and clicking the puzzle pieces of culture and people and earth's beauty right into our souls.
Something I love about Shared_Studios is their vision to connect creatives from all around this spectacular planet. Have a look through their website and videos! I hope you are as impressed as I am to see individuals cross-culturally collaborating in the arts- music, theatre, dance; delving into intentional global discussions between world leaders; or making various language and educational opportunities available... the possibilities of "an internet you can walk through..." are endless.
Are you feeling the cabin fever after returning from one of your last backpacking or study abroad adventures? Do you miss what it was like to dialog with someone who's native language is different from yours? Has it been a while since you saw life through the eyes of someone who's background helped you reshape your own outlook? These Portals are set up at unique locations across the globe. Research your city and drop by a local university, museum, or community arts center and soon you will find yourself in another country, face-to-face with someone else looking to see more of the world from their home. Have fun with it! Make an appointment and create music, exchange stories, discuss and debate, or just share a coffee. This cutting edge vision and technology of Shared_Studios is proudly connecting citizenpushpins like me and you with people from Afghanistan, Honduras, Kenya, Spain, and dozens more! Walk into your golden Portal and into another world today.
Safe travels, fellow explorers!