Refugees

The Art Newspaper: A golden opportunity in Times Square ends today

The Art Newspaper: A golden opportunity in Times Square ends today

Today (21 November) is the last chance to stop by the TimesSquare_Portal project, a golden shipping container that connects visitors in New York’s busiest public space with people around the world, using advanced video chat software. During its seven-week-long run, the portable communications hub has linked up to cities in the US as well as Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Myanmar. Portals was created to foster one-on-one conversations across distances and different cultures, says the project’s founder and creative director Amar Bakshi. During a visit in October, The Art Newspaper spoke with a group of children from the Harsham Refugee Camp in Erbil, Iraq about some of their favourite activities—playing football—and foods—shawarma and barbeque. The project is always travelling, and there are plans to launch a Portal in a repurposed school bus in February, so keep an eye on the organiser’s website for future stops.

Lunis: Refugees

Lunis: Refugees

I just spoke to refugees from Mosul in Irbil, Iraq. Rami and Sami are two brothers who have been living in a refugee camp in Irbil for three years. Their journey from Mosul took them first through Syria, then Turkey, and after a delay of five days at the Kurdish border, they were permitted to enter again into the area of Iraq now controlled by the Kurds. Irbil is in Kurdish territory. The delay at the border was because relations between the Arabs and the Kurds is not that good. 

Harvard Gazette: Face Time With Refugees

Harvard Gazette: Face Time With Refugees

Harvard Divinity School student Shannon Boley pushed open the heavy door to the large shipping container and slowly stepped out on to the School’s campus green, wiping away tears from her eyes.

Asked why she was crying, she said “that was just a connection I haven’t had in a long time.”

Boston Globe: High-tech shipping container Portal links Harvard students, Gaza youth

Boston Globe: High-tech shipping container Portal links Harvard students, Gaza youth

CAMBRIDGE — In a cozy space on Harvard’s campus, a small group of students sat down Sunday morning facing another cluster of young people and chatted about TV, music, and sports.

Metro: Portal allows Boston-area residents to 'FaceTime' with refugees around the world

Metro: Portal allows Boston-area residents to 'FaceTime' with refugees around the world

On Harvard’s campus, there’s a portal to another world — literally.

Inside an unassuming shipping container that sits on the grass at Harvard Divinity School, students, staff and other visitors can come face-to-face with refugees around the world.

Harvard Gazette: Face time with refugees

Original Article: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/harvard-students-refugees-connect-through-portal-project/

 

Harvard Divinity School (HDS) student Shannon Boley pushed open the heavy door of a shipping container and slowly stepped out to the campus green, wiping tears from her eyes.

“That was just a connection I haven’t had in a long time,” she said.

Boley had just met a 15-year-old girl living more than 5,500 miles away near Amman, Jordan. Although the two were half a world apart, the exchange became emotional when the teen sang in Arabic about love and longing and Boley responded with “Ave Maria.”

“It was a beautiful, spiritual experience,” said Boley, her eyes still red. “On the other end of the world, you’re sharing this really intimate part of you. I’m singing this song that means so much to me, and I could tell her song meant so much to her.”

The exchange was made possible through an effort of the Religious Literacy Project at HDS and Shared Studios, a collective that creates “portals” inside shipping containers outfitted with immersive technology that enables real-time, face-to-face conversations between people in similar spaces across the world.

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Shannon Boley and a 15-year-old from Jordan exchange songs. Video still by Joe Sherman/Harvard Staff

HDS is hosting one of the portals on campus through Thursday, allowing members of the Harvard community to have conversations with residents and refugees living in Germany, Gaza City, Jordan, and Iraq.

Diane Moore, director of the Religious Literacy Project, partnered with the American Academy of Religion and the Henry Luce Foundation to bring the project to campus.

In March, Moore had traveled to Erbil, Iraq, where she met with refugees, some of whom had been displaced for more than three years.

“There was a concern that no one knows about them,” she said, “that they’re statistics, they’re massive numbers in the news — there was a concern they feel unseen.”

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The project allows participants in distant portals to make eye contact and feel as if they are talking in the same room. Video still by Joe Sherman/Harvard Staff

Amar Bakshi ’06, the founder of Shared Studios, said the goal of the portal project is to make connections — whether between Gaza and Cambridge, or Gaza and Kigali, Rwanda — beneficial for those on both sides.

“In some cases, it’s very clear — provision of legal advice to a refugee seeking legal asylum, because there are a lot of lawyers around here and there are fewer in Erbil, [Iraq],” Bakshi said.

“It can be a lot more amorphous, though. It can be a game of charades between two kids. A kid in Erbil who has very little to do day-to-day, and a kid here who has only heard about refugees through the news.”

Moore invited Cambridge Rindge and Latin School history teacher Rachel Otty, who is taking one of Moore’s courses through the Extension School, to bring her students to the portal.

“The fact that the students have actually talked to people who are living in Jordan, or who have lived in Syria, at one point means they have context that most students don’t have,” Otty said. “Some of the [student’s] assumptions … are already starting to break down.”

Through the portal, staff from the Division of Continuing Education planned to discuss improving distance learning for refugees with educators and students in Iraq; students from the Kennedy School’s Middle East Refugee Service Initiative spoke with young adults living in Gaza City; and a student from the Graduate School of Education talked about poetry with teens in Iraq.

Moore said her students will discuss what it means to carry the refugees’ stories with them in their future scholarship, advocacy work, or ministry.

“Many of our students are eager to understand the challenges that people are facing here in the U.S. and around the world where religion intersects with issues of public policy, humanitarian action, journalism, and other areas,” she said. “This is a perfect setting for us to connect not only with people around the world, but with each other.”

WGBH: ‘Skype on Steroids’: From Harvard Square To Jordan Through A Portal

WGBH: ‘Skype on Steroids’: From Harvard Square To Jordan Through A Portal

Harvard Divinity School has brought to the Cambridge campus this week a large shipping container that serves as a portal to refugees around the world, using audio-visual technology that allows students and refugees to have live conversations.

The Harvard Crimson: Portals Project Connects Cambridge Students with Refugees

The Harvard Crimson: Portals Project Connects Cambridge Students with Refugees

Harvard Divinity School had a unique addition to its campus green this week: A metallic-gold shipping container equipped with immersive video technology, connecting Cambridge students with refugees from Iraq, Gaza City, Jordan, and Germany.

Eldario.es: Los Verdes europeos instalan portal para hablar con refugiados en tiempo real

Eldario.es: Los Verdes europeos instalan portal para hablar con refugiados en tiempo real

El Partido Verde Europeo instaló hoy en la puerta del Parlamento Europeo (PE) un portal que permite hablar a tiempo real con refugiados y desplazados que se encuentran en Alemania, Jordania, Ruanda, Afganistán o Palestina.

CNN: The Portals Project: This gold box is 'better than Facebook'

CNN: The Portals Project: This gold box is 'better than Facebook'

Thousands of commuters buzz by it; dozens more see it from the Starbucks line less than 100 feet away. But only a few enter this gold box in the middle of downtown Los Angeles' Grand Park.

"That was amazing," Bernadine Harris said as she stepped out of the shipping container covered in gold paint.

Moments before, she was speaking live to an Iraqi refugee standing in front of her — on a large video screen.

LA Courthouse News: Art ‘Portal’ Connects LA With Iraqi Refugees – in Real Time

LA Courthouse News: Art ‘Portal’ Connects LA With Iraqi Refugees – in Real Time

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Inside the gleaming dark gold shipping container in LA’s Grand Park, the three art students giggled uneasily. They sat in a room carpeted from floor to ceiling in charcoal gray, facing a screen that showed two Iraqi men, Muhammad and Rami, sitting on lime-green plastic chairs in a similarly enclosed space.

WUSA: 'Portal' brings you face-to-face with Syrian refugees

WUSA: 'Portal' brings you face-to-face with Syrian refugees

WASHINGTON, DC - Despite the horrific visuals coming out of Syria's civil war on a daily basis, it's easy to feel as if the conflict, and the associated refugee crisis, is a world away. But new technology is helping to connect Americans to Syrian refugees, in a way that puts people face-to-face, despite the distance. 

La Informacion: Myrna y Osama sí sueñan con estudiar desde el campo de refugiados

La Informacion: Myrna y Osama sí sueñan con estudiar desde el campo de refugiados

A Myrna y Osama no hay nada que les guste más que ir al colegio. Durante meses, las atrocidades de Estado Islámico y las bombas impidieron que cogiesen los libros pero ahora, poco a poco, sus vidas vuelven a la normalidad. Lo hace en medio de la nada. En uno de los 23 campo de refugiados que las organizaciones internacionales han habilitado para los desplazados de la guerra en Mosul. Están a solo 60 kilómetros de distancia, pero allí, la vida vuelve a tomar forma, lejos de las atrocidades de los bárbaros.

Al Jazeera: Is Interactivity the Future of Refugee Fundraising?

Al Jazeera: Is Interactivity the Future of Refugee Fundraising?

On World Refugee Day, a golden shipping container was brought on to the grounds of the United Nations General Assembly hall in New York. Inside, cutting-edge audiovisual technology allowed delegates to converse via live video chat with children inside Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp, as though they were standing in the same room.

Global Citizen: Displaced Iraqi Children Call on US Leadership for Help

Global Citizen: Displaced Iraqi Children Call on US Leadership for Help

Last week, members of the US House of Representatives met with displaced students from Erbil, Iraq, to highlight the magnitude of humanitarian crises in the world. The event was co-hosted by Global Citizen, Global Campaign for Education-US; Jesuit Refugee Service/USA; U.S. Fund for UNICEF; and A World at School.