On a crisp and sunny morning, President Martha E. Pollack and a small group of Cornell leaders walked into a gold-painted shipping container outside Olin Library and were instantly transported to Herat, Afghanistan.
Known as the Cornell Portal, the shipping container helps “bring the world to Cornell and bring Cornell to the world” and offers the university community opportunities to share experiences and ideas with different cultures, according to Gerald R. Beasley, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. It is part of the Portals project, an immersive public art experience created by Shared Studios, with installations around the nation and in other countries – from Andover, Massachusetts, to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Joining Pollack and Beasley on Oct. 5 were Katherine McComas, vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs, and Wendy Wolford, vice provost for international affairs. In the portal in Herat, Afghanistan, were representatives from Code to Inspire, which teaches girls computer coding, web developing and app making. The school was founded in 2015 after Herat broke free from Taliban rule, and it has taught an estimated 150 students to date, according to its website.