Portuguese fest draws out varied Hub community

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/05/13/portuguese-fest-draws-out-varied-hub-community/

CAMBRIDGE – On a warm Thursday evening, both young and old Portuguese-Americans packed the Filarmónica de Santo António Cultural Center in East Cambridge as part of an effort to gather immigrants and their families.

“It’s very important to bring people together,” said Ângela Crespo the chapter co-leader of the Portuguese American Post-graduate Society. “With all the different generations here – that was the whole point of tonight’s event.”

The gathering rallied residents and friends of “Little Portugal” as part of the annual Boston Portuguese Festival and to provide an opportunity for networking among members of the Portuguese community.

Several members of the post-graduate group spoke about their experiences adjusting to American lifestyles.

For Inês Tenente a PhD student whose pedriatic cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital involves zebra fish, coming to the Boston area from Portugal to pursue her dream job wasn’t so easy.

“I don’t want to be negative because I grew a lot, because there were tough times,” said Tenente, who has lived in Boston for almost five years. At first, she said, “it was the worst year of my life.”

“There was a lot happening,” she continued, describing a period in which she had to move three times, got mugged on the street, and wound up in the hospital after falling off her bicycle one day.

But she said being part of the association for members of the ethnic community who have graduate degrees and her colleagues at work helped her get through it.

“There were a lot of challenges,” Tenente said.

There were lighter moments too. John Correia, the president of the cultural center, talked of his modest upbringing and how it eventually brought him to Boston for school and then work.

“I remember the Boston Globe wrote an article years ago that described the Portuguese as good, loyal, hard-working people,” he said, remarking on the young people in the crowd. “It’s good to see you guys changing that vision,” he quipped.

Another speaker at the event, Claudinor Salomão, talked about founding the Portuguese Parents Advisory Council in the area. He also helped spearhead the development of a Portuguese school for bilingual students in the 1970s.

Ana Albuquerque, an associate professor at Boston University, shared her thoughts on higher education in Portugal compared with U.S. schools, particularly in the accounting field.

The Hub’s Portuguese Festival, which is in its 11th year, continues with a number of events this month and next. On Saturday, a free conference will feature two panels of speakers along with music and crafts displays. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 1p.m. at the Portuguese American Youth Center in Lowell.

Future events focus on literature, music, cinema, history and current affairs. And there are plans for a June 19 traditional parade in Cambridge and Somerville.

“It is becoming very well known,” João Caixinha, an organizer, said of the festival. “It’s about following their path but also following our path and our soul.”