domingo, agosto 30, 2009

Ponta Delgada mayor, delegation visit New Bedford

Though many of its people have immigrated here, the Azores and its culture still loom large in the hearts and minds of people in SouthCoast, said the mayor of the islands' capital city.
"We are always at Ponta Delgada looking out for the Azoreans living here. They are an important part of our culture," said Berta Cabral, the mayor of Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel.
Cabral and a delegation from Ponta Delgada arrived in New Bedford on Friday as part of a weeklong visit to SouthCoast. Cabral was invited to be an honored guest of the annual Great Feast of the Holy Ghost of New England this weekend.
On Thursday, Cabral and her delegation visited Bristol Community College and Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River.
On Friday, Cabral met with New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang and other local officials during a reception at City Hall. The delegation was also scheduled to visit the Casa de Saudade Library, whaling museum and UMass Dartmouth.
The mayors discussed the cultural bonds between the Whaling City and its Azorean counterpart. They shared their cities' experiences with economic development, health care, education and renewable energy projects.
Cabral told Lang about the strengths of Ponta Delgada's fishing, tourism and agriculture. Lang, in turn, showed Cabral two small, solar-power strips produced by Konarka, which operates out of the old Polaroid plant in New Bedford.
Cabral said she usually visits the region once a year to meet with the leaders of the Azorean community.
"We are always in contact with this community," said Cabral, who explained the reasons for her interest in maintaining contact with Azoreans and their descendants in SouthCoast.
"It's very important for children to come home and see the land of their fathers," Cabral said. "That's the tourism that we want."
Cabral invited Lang to visit the Azores. Lang said he expects a delegation from New Bedford to visit the islands soon for the purposes of cultivating stronger educational and cultural ties.
About 50 local delegates and college officials visited the Azores last year. UMass Dartmouth, which has a Portuguese-American archives center and a Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, and BCC have cultural exchange programs with the University of the Azores in Ponta Delgada.
The University of the Azores and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are also collaborating on renewable energy projects.
Fernando Garcia, a Fall River businessman who is helping to escort the delegation, touted the Azoreans' emerging technologies in the renewable energies field.
"We're still the same people that discovered half of the world," Garcia said.
(in Brian Fraga South Coast

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