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Step inside this gold 'Portal' and chat with a stranger in real time around the worldby Nathalie Basha
Travel#portals

WATCH |This giant gold shipping container is actually a portal. 

No, really. 

Inside are screens, connected to a replica portal in another country. On the screens: a full-sized, total stranger talking to you in real time. 

This is the Portals exhibit, launched by Shared Studios. It's a project that is set up all over the world, the purpose of which is to connect people who would otherwise never meet, to help close the gap between continents and cultures.

There are portals in a lot of U.S. cities, like Los Angeles, Boulder, Chicago, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Washington D.C., Rye, and a few other roving locations. 

Those portals all connect with sister portals around the world, in countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Honduras, Germany, Mexico, and India

So when you step inside one of these portals, you have no idea who will be standing right in front of you, or where they will be from. You get 20 minutes to talk about anything. 

People have been using their 20 minutes in the portals creatively. One session saw a trio of men freestyle-rapping, while a woman on the other side of the world danced to their beat. Another session turned into a language exchange.

That's exactly the kind of thing creator Amar Bakshi was hoping would happen. Bakshi says he was inspired to recreate those serendipitous moments during travel, where total strangers from different cultures talk and connect. 

People come out of the portals with a variety of emotions. Some are ecstatic - the woman pictured was connected to Cuba and burst into a salsa dance after her session. Others are moved and touched. 

The portals themselves are mostly shipping containers, like this one that was stationed at Grand Park in Los Angeles. Some are traveling exhibits (this one in L.A. will only be up until April 23), while most are permanent installations. 

If you want to see a portal for yourself or find the nearest one, check out the Shared Studios website.  

Here's another way to experience a different culture - try out one of our videos on Thailand, about the culture of the Padaung tribe in northern Chiang Mai.