For two weeks in 2020, Douglas Freeman students were able to enter an immersive audio-visual chamber and interact with residents of Afghanistan, Uganda and other places far from Henrico County.
The portal is constructed from a repurposed steel shipping container, painted gold. It and similar portals are dimly lit and include a floor-to-ceiling screen, giving people at each location the illusion of being in the same room. It's one of more than 60 portals worldwide, and is the creation of Shared Studios of Brooklyn, NY.
Douglas Freeman students proposed bringing one of the portals to campus, and funding from the Henrico Education Foundation made it happen. The Foundation supports innovative teaching and learning in Henrico’s 72 schools and program centers.
“One of our roles as a school is to expose students to new ideas and different ways of thinking — to broaden their view of the world,” said John Marshall, Douglas Freeman principal. “The school’s diversity is a strength in this regard, and embracing that is one of our core values. The portal gives us the chance to do this at an even greater scope. It highlights the fact that we’re creating global citizens who learn much more than just facts and content during their time at DSF.”