Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and College of Social Sciences have named Portuguese language lecturer Diniz (Dennis) Borges as the first director of the Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute. The institute was founded in November 2018 after the Luso-American Development Foundation granted $130,000 to launch a Portuguese-American Oral History Project and a speaker series.
“I’m thrilled that Diniz Borges is the founding director for the Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute,” said Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State. “Mr. Borges will coordinate with the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and the College of Social Sciences to bring our community together to celebrate the rich culture and historical legacy of the Lusophone world.”
Borges has been involved in a variety of Portuguese community projects in California and throughout the United States. Besides his teaching and educational leadership responsibilities, he moderates a weekly Portuguese Language television show, “Os Portugueses no Vale” for KNXT-Channel, coordinates a literary page for the newspaper Tribuna Portuguesa and is a contributing writer for Portuguese-American newspapers in the United States, Canada and the Azores. Borges is on the board of various Portuguese-American organizations and has published several books in Portugal, including “América, o Outro lado do sonho” in 1997 and “A Década Perdida-Crónicas de uma América Cinzenta” in 2012.
“This is an historic moment for the Portuguese-American community in the Valley,” Borges said. “From language courses to oral history projects, from lecture series to teacher conferences, from exhibits to colloquiums, from exchange programs with the University of the Azores and the Jordan College to the Portuguese-American presence in Valley agriculture, politics, business, education and the arts, the Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute, with its mission and its strategic plan for the teaching of the Portuguese language in California, will certainly be an important contribution to our multicultural state.”
Borges was born in Praia da Vitória, Terceira, Açores, and immigrated to the United States as a young child. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Chapman University and his master’s degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills, Borges served as the Portuguese language teacher at Tulare Union High School for 22 years. He is now a Portuguese language lecturer at Fresno State and an adjunct professor of Portuguese at College of the Sequoias. Borges is also the honorary consul of Portugal and co-coordinator for Portuguese Language Programs for California for the Camões Institute and Luso-American Education Foundation.
“Diniz Borges’ connection to the Portuguese community in California as well as his relationship with leaders in the Azores and the mainland make him uniquely qualified to be the first director for the Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute. We will be able to launch a dynamic program under his leadership,” said Dr. Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.
The Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute is designed to be a center of interaction for the benefit of students at Fresno State and for the Portuguese-American community. The San Joaquin Valley is home to the largest Portuguese-American community in California, the greatest majority with roots in the Azores and whose history and contributions are an integral part of the fabric of the region.
The institute will function as a hub of cultural, literary, pedagogical and research resources for the Portuguese-American experience and to promote the connections with the Portuguese-speaking world, focusing on the archipelago of the Azores, with a strong emphasis on the Azorean Diaspora in California. It aims to be Central California’s nucleus for cultural events, teacher conferences, colloquia, literary resources, publications, academic research, artistic exhibitions and performing arts productions, not only for the matriculated students at Fresno State, but also for the enrichment of the Portuguese-American community and society at large.
“The College of Social Sciences is pleased to be part of this new, collaborative venture,” said Dr. Michelle DenBeste, dean of the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State. Seeking out and preserving the rich cultural history of our diverse Valley is part of our mission. This new project will be a nexus for this work, helping us record and acknowledge the valuable contributions of the Portuguese people and their culture in Central California.”