Portal in Monroe Park allows you to tour the world

Portal in Monroe Park allows you to tour the world

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Throughout the years, Monroe Park has seen its fair share of change, and its newest addition is a gold shipping container called a portal.

With the use of Wifi and a projector, the portal allows you to have a live face-to-face interaction with people throughout the world in a video feed.

Students from Central Montessori are just some of the few who got to experience what life is like in another country.

“It was very like cool being able to meet new people who are part of other cultures,” said 6th grader at Central Montessori, Elliot Vanvalkenburg.

“When you walk in, there’s a screen about eight feet right in front of you, and it’s if I’m standing in front of me and your standing in front of me and I’m asking you about your shoes and you’re asking me about my glasses,” said Richmond Portal Sponsor, Andy Stefanovich.

The project was first started in Brooklyn in 2014, and since then the project has grown to 40 portals all over the world. The portal in Richmond makes number 41.

Richmond Portal sitting in the middle of Monroe Park
Richmond Portal sitting in the middle of Monroe Park

“We talk about how many people of Richmond may not have the ability or access to go see much of the world but it’s one way to do it and at the same time the world get to see a little bit of Richmond,” said Stefanovich.

Organizers say the goal behind this shipping container is to inspire people to connect with someone they wouldn’t normal have in person.

“I really didn’t know it was possible, so it was really cool to walk inside (the) storage container and say, ‘hi, I’m Elliot. what’s it like where you live?’”said Vanvalkenburg. “You can learn so much more by having a conversation with a person than you would by just looking it up on the internet.”

The Richmond portal is free and open to the public 10 to 15 hours per week. It is staffed when open and locked up at night.

Richmond Portal sign in Monroe Park with locations.
Richmond Portal sign in Monroe Park with locations.

A schedule is posted on their website with weekly hours and upcoming chats with different cities and countries.

The portal will be in the park until April 30, and then moved to three other local sites throughout the year.

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