The day after the President of the Azores Vasco Alves Cordeiro visited Fresno State earlier this year, he announced the creation of the Azorean Diaspora Council, which aims to register all Azoreans living abroad and create a system allowing participation in the region’s politics through representatives.
As a natural stop for trans-Atlantic voyages, it was commonplace for the Portuguese population of the Azores to spread around the world. They began arriving in California on whaling ships before the gold rush and continue to migrate to this day. Many Azorians maintain close connections to their ancestral home and thousands return to visit each year.
The Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute aims to strengthen that bond between Azorians in the Central Valley and their homeland through its lecture series. The fall 2019 season kicks off with a panel on “The Azores and the Central Valley: Histories, Journeys, Connections and Opportunities” at 6 p.m., Sept. 10 at the Henry Madden Library, Room 3212.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Fresno State students, faculty and the community at large to learn, not just about the Azores, but the rich connections between both regions and what PBBI at Fresno State is planning with the lecture series, the oral history project, the exchange programs and the language and cultural classes,” said Diniz (Dennis) Borges, director of the institute.
The panel includes Borges, Steven Gomes, retired superintendent of schools for the Merced County Office of Education; Daniel Mello, Kerman High School teacher; Kathy Mendes Gulley, author; and Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology students who participated in recent exchange programs in the Azores. Those students will also discuss their summer internship program in the Azores along with alumni who participated in a “travel and learn” program.
Fall 2019 Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute Lecture Series
All lectures are free and the public is invited to attend. Parking is $5 at any of the daily parking permit dispensers. The institute’s lecture series is sponsored by the Luso-American Development Foundation.
Azorean Diaspora: the Migration of Azoreans to North America
Speaker: Paulo Teves, director of Azorean Communities for the Government of the Azores
6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at the University Business Center, PB 191
European Law and Transatlantic Relations
Speaker: Rita Faden, president of the Luso-American Development Foundation
6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, at the University Business Center, PB 191
Angra and the World: From the Era of the Discoveries to Contemporary Times
Speaker: Álamo Meneses, mayor of Angra
6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Henry Madden Library, Room 3212
Speaker: Sam Pereira, Portuguese-American poet
6 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5, at the University Business Center, PB 191
The San Joaquin Valley is home to the largest Portuguese-American community in California, the greatest majority with roots in the islands of the Azores and whose history and contributions are an integral part of the region and state. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands about 1,000 miles west of Portugal in the North Atlantic. While the region maintains a national connection to Portugal, the government operates independently under a few constitutional requirements.
The Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute is a collective effort between the College of Arts and Humanities, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and College of Social Sciences at Fresno State. Through a lecture series and an oral history project, the institute will function as a hub of cultural, literary, pedagogical and research resources for the Portuguese-American experience and 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 enrolled students at Fresno State but also for the enrichment of the Portuguese-American community and society at large.