Inspiring Empathy and Intercultural Understanding
In 2018, Marymount became the first independent school in New York City to host a Shared_Studios Portal. The Portal is an inflatable gold container equipped with immersive audio-visual technology. When you enter one, you come face-to-face, live, full-body, with someone in an identical gold container somewhere else on Earth. 
 
First introduced to our community at the 2017 WOW Student Summit, Portals are popping up all around the world, from Times Square to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. By integrating this kind of interconnected learning into the curriculum, Marymount was able to expand our global education program beyond traditional language and social studies classes, exchange programs, and study abroad experiences.
 
Designed to enhance the curriculum in a wide range of subjects, students experienced Portal sessions such as:
  • Connecting with an art center in Herat, Afghanistan, a Kindergarten class shared self-portrait puppets.
  • Advanced Spanish students spoke with college students in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to discuss issues that affect women and girls in our communities.
  • The School’s chamber choir performed for and collaborated with singers in Amman, Jordan.
  • Class XII students in the Atmospheric Science elective connected with scientists and students in Adelaide, Australia, to talk about climate change.
  • Fifth grade students discussed storytelling and shared their love of reading with their peers in Gaza, Palestine.
  • Upper School students practiced their French with students in Kigali, Rwanda.
  • The Upper Mid “School of Rock” band entertained visitors in the Portal in Mexico City, Mexico.
“As part of a global network of RSHM schools than spans three continents, Marymount is blessed with the gift of internationality. This pop-up Portal allowed students to step beyond this network and engage in authentic and meaningful conversation with people around the world. Trading stories, insights, and laughter, we found commonality with people who have very different backgrounds and experiences than our own. In this way, the Portal inspired empathy, compassion, and understanding in all who entered and helped us live out our goal to create unity through diversity,” said Headmistress Concepcion Alvar. 

More on Portals

Since launch in 2014, Portals have connected more than 85,000 people around the world in intimate, one-on-one dialogues. Prior Portals participants include Barack Obama, Ban Ki-moon, Haider al-Abadi, John Kerry, Samantha Power, Sergey Brin, Fareed Zakaria, Ewan McGregor, and more. Sites include Herat, Kigali, Berlin, San Francisco, an IDP camp in Iraq, a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, and more. Global media has covered Portals including the New York Times, The Washington Post,  ABC, PBS, FOX, and many more. Portals is a project of Shared_Studios, a multidisciplinary art, design, and technology collective focused on carving wormholes across the world.

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