Curso de Verão – a summer adventure for RIC students

Students who traveled to the Azores over the summer joined the president and first lady of the Azores in front of the
Palácio Sant'Ana, the seat of the administrative offices of the Presidency of the Regional Government of the Azores
in Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel.

In front, from left, are Azorean first lady Luisa Maria do Vale César and President Carlos do Vale César, and Marie R.
Fraley, associate director of IPLWS; In back, from left, are RIC students Ailton Barbosa, Jessica Trindade, Margaret
Craveiro, Loureana Soares, Giancarla O'Rourke, Susana Marques and Sergio Nunes.

This summer, seven RIC students traveled to the Azores for an intensive five-week "curso de verão," or summer course, which was sponsored by the college's Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies (IPLWS).

Slide show

The Azores are a group of autonomously governed islands in the North-Atlantic, which are a part of the Republic of Portugal.

In conjunction with the University of the Azores, students had learning experiences on three different islands. On São Miguel they studied Portuguese language and literature for three weeks. They observed the biodiversity of marine life on the Azores for one week on Faial, and spent another week on the neighboring Island of Terceira learning about the plant and animal life of the Azores.

“The Azores offers students an appreciation for the diversity of the Lusophone world,” said Marie R. Fraley, associate director of the Institute. According to the IPLWS, 85 percent of students who enroll in Portuguese studies at the college identify themselves as Portuguese or Lusophone, meaning of the Portuguese-speaking communities around the world. The students who traveled to the Azores were fluent speakers of Portuguese and enrolled at RIC in Portuguese studies.

Margaret Craveiro (left), Jessica Trindade and Loureana Soares
stand in front of the Portas da Cidade (Gates of the City) in Ponta Delgada,
São Miguel.
Fraley said this trip was a real step forward for the Institute, whose mission is to further the study of Portuguese at the academic level. RIC provides a valuable public service to the Portuguese and Lusophone communities, “For the children of immigrant families or immigrants themselves, Rhode Island College offers a quality, affordable education,” she said. 

“The trip was a life-changing experience, unforgettable,” said Susana Marques, a RIC student who traveled to the Azores this summer. Marques said that a whale-watching expedition, set up by the Department of Oceanography and Fishing at the University of the Azores, which took place off the coast of Faial, was a highlight for her.

The students also ventured into lava tubes on the western side of the island of Pico, often called Gruta das Torres. Fraley noted the significance of how volcanic activity has impacted the culture and mentality of the Azorean people. 

In 1957 there was a devastating volcanic eruption in the Azores, which lasted over a year and destroyed over 300 homes. State Rep. Joseph Perry Jr., and Sen. John O. Pastore of Rhode Island, and a young Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts decided that help was needed. That help came in the form of the Azorean Refugee Act, which in Sept. 1958 authorized the emigration of 1,500 people from the Azores to the U.S.

This is one of many reasons why one in 10 Rhode Islanders now claim Portuguese or Lusophone ancestry, the highest percentage in the country. This historic connection explains why children of Portuguese and Lusophone immigrants, like Fraley, describe an affinity between the local area and the Azores.

From left, Sergio Nunes, Ailton Barbosa, Margaret Craveiro, Jessica
Trindade, Loureana Soares and Susana Marques pose at an
overlook on the island of Terceira.
For the IPLWS, the purpose of this trip was greater than cultural exchange. The goal was to create lasting relationships in the Azores, which will benefit RIC students. IPLSWS representatives and RIC students visited the Palácio Sant'Ana, the administrative offices of the Azores, on São Miguel. There they met with the president of the Azores, Carlos Manuel Martins do Vale César. When the president visited RIC last May at RIC President Carriuolo’s invitation to address the students visiting the Azores, he invited them to visit him during their trip. Video

Students also met the president of the European Youth Parliament, Steven Barbosa, at its regional headquarters in Ponta Delgada on São Miguel. He explained to students what opportunities may be available to them in the future while studying in the Azores. Barbosa mentioned specifically courses of political study concerning the relationship between the European Union and the Azores.

Marques described her curso de verão as “Unbelievable, sheer history and natural beauty all at once.”

For Marie Fraley, experiences like these can only mean the course was a lesson in success.