How Virtual Reality Is Helping Immigrants Return Home
Many of us take for granted the fact that we're able to see family and friends on a consistent basis. However, for the estimated 84 million immigrants who live in the United States, returning home to see loved ones can be impossible due to finances or legal status. Families are separated by borders they can't cross and these fractured families lead to fractured hearts.
"There's a lot of talk about immigrants right now, but no one really captures the essence of these individuals, the lives that they left behind." Alvaro Morales is a co-founder of Family Reunions Project, an initiative that uses virtual reality to bring immigrants back home. Morales and his partner Frisly Soberanis, both immigrants, use 360-degree cameras to record in places across Mexico and Central America to create 3D postcards. These videos are watched through specialized headsets by individuals who haven't been able to return home in years, if not decades.
"Virtual reality is a medium that can really transport people and I wanted to apply that towards immigrants. I noticed that so many immigrants were using Google Maps to view their old neighborhoods, childhood homes, schools, and parks from a bird's eye view. This really inspired me to explore how virtual reality could help bridge those gaps and cross those borders that, in the political climate, are uncrossable."
Morales points out, "Migration is emotionally painful. To bring them back to places that they have this deep connection to has motivated us to keep going along with this project. It's amazing to see how deeply emotional this virtual reality experience is for those who take part."