Journeys: Bridging the Us/Them Divide in the Global Refugee Crisis


Portal Exterior

Note: Join portal project founder Amar Bakshi for a conversation about the evolution and vision of this project on Tuesday, November 7th from 12-1pm at the portal on Adover Green. See even details here.

The world is currently facing the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with 65 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, including 23 million refugees. Both the scale and complex causes of this global humanitarian crisis are difficult to fathom and although education about relevant facts and figures is important, there is no substitute for a personal encounter to reframe our understanding of a global crisis.

The Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School has partnered with the American Academy of Religion and Boston College to bring a Shared Studios portal to the Boston area. Learn more about the origins of this project, started by Amar Bakshi in 2014, here.

From Saturday November 4th to Thursday November 9th, a Shared Studios portal will be open on the Campus Green with opportunities for HDS community members to join in conversation with displaced peoples in Iraq, Jordan, and Germany via live, full body video connective technology, as if speaking in the same room. 

You can sign up here for 20-minute conversational spots as individuals or in a group. Look on the right of the schedule for opportunities for different types of exchanges, around art, music, and poetry or via narratives prompts. 

Before a conversation, community members will be provided with background context and instructions for how to prepare for, conduct and leave the conversation. While we want to be sure you have enough context to engage knowledgeably, we also want to emphasize that these conversations are above all about a person-to-person encounter. The most important thing you will bring into this is your presence and in “bridging the divide” through conversation and shared exchange.

Please sign up here for access to a self paced set of resources about the refugee crisis itself and specific information about Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq, that we've created on the edX platform. After signing up for an account, you'll be able to access the materials at any time.  

Media Coverage of the Shared Studios Portal

"High-Tech Shipping Container Portal Links Harvard Students, Gaza Youth," Boston Globe, November 6, 2017

"Cambridge Portals," WGBH Greater Boston, November 6, 2017

"Face Time With Refugees," Harvard Gazette, November 7, 2017