Vanderbilt Portal to Mexico City Promotes Global Citizenship

Portal_to_Mexico_CityThe Vanderbilt Portal to Mexico City—a custom-designed gold shipping container with immersive audio and video technology—will offer the entire Nashville community now through October 12 an opportunity to converse face to face with new acquaintances in Mexico’s capital city.

Interested individuals must sign up in advance to reserve a time for a 20-minute conversation in the portal, which is located on the South Patio Lawn of The Commons Center, 18th Avenue South and Horton Avenue. When you enter the portal, you will meet someone standing in another shipping container located in Mexico City. Translation will be provided if needed.

“Portals,” a public art initiative offered in collaboration with Shared_Studios arts collective, will also provide educational programming for the Vanderbilt community related to artistic, academic and professional endeavors. Those interested in arranging special programs should email their request to The portal will remain at Vanderbilt through October 12.

“We are excited to bring this technology that opens a window to other cultures on our campus,” said Vanessa Beasley, dean of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons at Vanderbilt and associate professor of communication studies. “In addition to holding some ‘public hours’ in the portal, we will utilize the technological tools and artistic design of this project for enhanced programming.”

The founder of Shared_Studios is Amar C. Bakshi, a former journalist who worked at The Washington Post and CNN and is a graduate of Yale Law School. He and a team of artists, designers, engineers, technologists and digital explorers at Shared_Studios launched the project in December 2014. Vanderbilt is only the third higher education institution to have a Shared_Studios portal on its campus.

“What is especially appealing about having the portal at The Ingram Commons is that this project offers curricular as well as co-curricular learning opportunities in a variety of disciplines,” Beasley said. “For example, we can use the portal for conversations about issues raised in the book that all of our first-year students were assigned to read this past summer, The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse.”

“The Vanderbilt Portal to Mexico City illustrates how new technologies are fostering innovation in learning, teaching and discovery,” said Cynthia Cyrus, vice provost of learning and residential affairs. “Through the audio-video exchange, the portal expands the possibilities of cross-cultural engagement at Vanderbilt, promoting global citizenship through technological innovation. The ability to form meaningful connections by bridging distance and location will allow the community to explore, discover and contemplate the ‘human’ questions and issues that we all face.”

Sponsors for The Vanderbilt Portal to Mexico City are The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, Center for Latin American Studies, Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, Blair School of Music, International Legal Studies Program at Vanderbilt Law School, Department of Art, Department of History of Art, and Political Science Department.

*Shared_Studios Portal (courtesy of Amar C. Bakshi); article by Ann Marie Deer Owens

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