When I look back on my life, there will be more than a few great memories that rise to the top; watching my first virtual reality (VR) video will undoubtedly be one of them. I recently experienced this amazing sensation and am still reeling from the impact. I couldn’t believe how it transported me into another world…I imagine this must be what the first person who watched television must have felt!
It happened last week. My co-workers and I were treated to a unique training experience using VR technology to watch a film called “Clouds Over Sidra“. If you’ve been on Disney World’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, you’ve gotten a taste of VR; however, most people haven’t yet experienced it. For those who haven’t, VR is a computer-generated reality, experienced by wearing head-mounted displays and motion-tracked hand controllers that are used to trick your senses into believing they’re somewhere else. It reduces most external stimuli causing you to feel completely immersed in another place. It allows you to be surrounded by unique, often impossible, scenarios where you can feel the size of an ant or as big as the sun. It gives you the ability to experience things as if you are there rather than seeing them through a rectangular screen in front of you. All it takes is a turn of your head to see an entirely new perspective.
The VR experience was interesting to say the least. Not only was it informative, but it helped me understand on a different level. It was as if I actually stepped into a world that was not my own, so I could get a completely new understanding of the situation as opposed to just reading about it or watching a video. The presentation was excellent and enjoyable!
Our VR experience put us inside the compelling and moving world of Sidra, a 12-year old Syrian refugee girl who has spent the last 18 months in Zaatari, a refugee camp in Jordan, home to over 80,000 Syrians fleeing Middle Eastern violence and war. The film, “Clouds Over Sidra” is a project meant to raise awareness of the Syrian Civil War and VR was used beautifully for this purpose. It left almost every one of us with tears in our eyes and at the very least, a changed perspective on just how fortunate we are.
I truly enjoyed the heart-wrenching presentation. We don’t realize how fortunate we are until we see something like this. Sidra is one amazing child.
This film helped us better understand the important services delivered through the United Nations and our charity partner UNICEF USA. Our work for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is thousands of miles from this refugee camp but the VR experience brought us closer and put heart into what we do on their behalf. Better understanding the important work of all of our charity partners can give us all a sense of pride for our small contributions to these causes.
The one drawback…it was so impactful we want more VR presentations!