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As Seen At: The “Presidio Portal” Connects Park Visitors with People across the Globe

Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 Category Art

Have you seen the Presidio's new golden "Portal?" Created by Shared_Studios, the Portal is a shipping container with special technology that allows visitors to meet and get to know people at locations all around the world – from Pakistan to South Korea – as if they're in the same room. This summer the Portal was located for three months at Crissy Field in the Presidio.

If you'd like to enjoy this mini cultural exchange, all are invited to sign up for a free 20 minute appointment on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from now through November 5, 2017. Drop-ins are also welcome! The Portal is located outside the Presidio Officers' Club at the El Presidio de San Francisco archaeology dig site.

Schedule a 20 minute Portal conversation >>

Learn more about the Presidio Portal >>

We recently asked Portal visitors to tell us a little bit about their experience.

Sandy, Melba, and Debra – San Francisco

Sandy, Melba, and Debra – San Francisco

Sandy: I enjoyed talking to two men from Afghanistan a doctor and mathematician. The experience was really wonderful. It was just like standing here talking to you! I felt very comfortable, and I wasn't afraid to ask questions.

Melba: It was exciting to see somebody from the other side of the world and to have a nice relaxed conversation. We asked him about what he was wearing, and it was really cool to learn a little something new.

Debra: I was born at the Presidio's Letterman Hospital, and I've seen how the Presidio has changed over the years. To be in the park now and to talk to a person from a different country with the use of this technology is amazing. With everything that's going on in our society today, I enjoyed connecting with someone on the other side of the world to hear about their experiences.

Spencer – Portland native now living in the Bay Area

Spencer – Portland bred and living in the Bay Area

Spencer: The experience was amazing. It really is what you think – you're going to meet and speak with someone from another culture and a different place. I was offered so many amazing insights.

This experience allows you to question yourself and your culture. When you talk about the hard-hitting things, such as politics, with someone from another part of the world and you see a totally different perspective, it can be really influential. Then you can talk about everyday things as well, and you're like, "Wow – there are people just like me everywhere!"

Technology is giving us an incredible opportunity to do good in the world and connect with other people and break down barriers. That's exactly what we need right now. We need to have shared human experiences with people in foreign places. ​

Brenda and Liz – St. Louis and San Francisco

Brenda and Liz – St. Louis and San Francisco

Brenda: It was a very positive experience for me. It was interesting to feel as though I was almost sitting in a café, having a cup of coffee with two fellas from around the world, and I wanted to hear what they had to say! I could've sat in there for a very long time and chatted and asked questions.

Liz: This is a terrific use of technology and this reminds us that we are all the same across the world. These young men I chatted with were from Afghanistan and had just graduated from university there. They're about to begin new careers, and everyone can relate to that. Even though they're half a world away, their life experiences are very much like our own.

Ondra – San Francisco

Ondra – San Francisco

Ondra: I was on my way to do my volunteer work at the archaeology site and I saw this big gold box and thought, "I'm going to go check it out." I was totally blown away by this experience. It made my day. Once you go in you realize the scope of global communication that's made possible through this technology, and how important it is to have human-to-human contact with people from all over the world. I need to share it with all of my friends because it is a truly amazing experience.

Chris – San Francisco

Chris – San Francisco

Chris: It was amazing to be transported into a whole different culture. I just stumbled upon it while I was grabbing lunch. I literally stumbled into another part of the world.

Annemarie, Portal Curator from Shared Studios – San Francisco

Annemarie, Portal Curator from Shared Studios – San Francisco

Annemarie: This is the most healing thing we can do in the world right now – getting face-to-face with another individual is the best way to feel wonder about the world again. This experience also helps us learn how to ask questions again. We typically don't have public spaces where people can feel safe talking to a stranger and asking questions. It's like, depending on your race, your gender, or your background, you might not feel comfortable. The Portal allows for that. My goal is to make people feel safe, and to give different, unheard voices a platform to talk to one another so that if you feel alone in the world, here in the Portal you might find someone who understands you.​