By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s a unique way to connect with people around the world, and it’s now here in Baltimore.

The Downtown Partnership debuts the city’s first portal as a chance to interact with someone face-to-face in real time, even if they’re in another country.

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These portals have already connected more than 20,000 people around the world, stretching from Afghanistan to Mexico, and now here in Baltimore.

Outside Lexington Market, there’s one question that’s floating around:

“I didn’t know what it was.”

What exactly is inside this giant, gold shipping container?

“I thought I just thought they were blocking the market off.”

“I thought it was a whole bunch of money in there, cause it’s a gold box.”

Good guess, but not quite. Call it what you may, but it’s an experience of a lifetime.

“When you step into it, it’s almost you’re like walking through the internet, you’re connected, real time, to another person, in an identical portal, someplace else in the world,’ says Mike Evitts, with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

It’s one of the only ones on the east coast, but part of a handful around the world.

“We want people to talk about social justice, especially processing what happen in wake of riots, and ongoing issues in community and city.”

For our demo – we connected with another portal in Gaza.

It’s a good chance for people who didn’t meet people outside and want to meet new people.

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Where some were eager to learn about Baltimore and the controversial death of Freddie Gray.

It was really a big movement for this city and the entire country, shedding light on police-community relationships and police brutality.

As well as field questions from WJZ

And interact with those willing to give it a try.

“That’s awesome I never seen anything like that before.”

“To where my hold body was being shown and we were talking ideas and beliefs, it was great.”

A one of a kind opportunity.

“Hearing people talk and connect, and say warm things to each other, across different cultures, it really is powerful,” says Rachel Landon, Baltimore Curator.

With a lasting impact. If you want to check out the portal, it’s outside Lexington market, open Monday through Friday, noon to 5:30 p.m.

The best part about the experience is that it’s completely free.

The portal is one of roughly 25 scattered around the world, but one of the only ones placed on the east coast. There are portals in Washington, DC and Brooklyn, New York, as well as Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mumbai, Berlin, and Kabul.

Officials say they plan to move the portal to the Calvert Street area when Light City comes to Baltimore in April.

Click here to find out more about the Baltimore Portal.

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Rick Ritter