thelocalne.ws: Ipswich students will step into portals to other countries

IPSWICH — Now that the kids are out of school, let’s hear what kind of shenanigans they’ll be up to once they get back in after the break.

They’ll step into a portal to the world, no less, at the Winthrop Elementary School between February 25 and March 3.

While there, they’ll have an old chinwag with kids from the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, or other parts of the United States.

“Now more than ever, students need to learn and understand that they are part of a global world. Sometimes all it takes is a simple conversation to begin to understand a different culture,” Sheila McAdams, Winthrop’s principal, said in a statement.

Run by Shared Studios of Brooklyn, N.Y., the portals are inflatable rooms, or “immersive spaces in which you come face-to-face with someone on the far side of the globe,” the company said.

“Life is better when we engage with people unlike ourselves,” Shared Studios’ website said.

“When we look up from our phones and speak with someone new, we open new possibilities of understanding. When we witness the diversity of human experience, our lives are made richer, deeper, and more profound,” it added.

“We might see our kindergarteners sing a song to a group of children in Afghanistan or Iraq, or fourth graders reading stories to university students in Honduras,” McAdams said.

“Teachers may talk about integrating technology into classrooms with other adults in Mexico City. Community members could stop in to have a chat with someone in Jordan. The possibilities are endless and exciting!” she added.

In addition to the discussions, Ipswich teachers will get staff training on the inherent biases that must be overcome in an educational setting, McAdams said.

“The training will raise awareness of our own privilege and how that can affect teaching,” she said.

The students will use the portal mostly during school hours but some out-of-hours sessions are available to the public.

At those sessions, they can talk to Oakland, California, Milwaukee, Amman, Jordan, and one other location yet to be determined.

The portal is staffed by a live facilitator who can translate if needed.

Times for the public are:

  • Monday, February 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the Oakland International School.

  • Saturday, March 2 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30pm-connection TBD.

  • Sunday, March 3 from 10 a.m. to noon with Amman, Jordan.

  • Sunday, March 3 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. with Milwaukee.