Outstanding Organization Award to be Presented to RIC’s Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island College’s Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies will be honored on Saturday, March 17, at the 30th anniversary gala celebration of Radio Voz do Emigrante, a Portuguese-language radio station serving SouthCoast’s Portuguese-speaking community. More than 1,000 guests are expected at the Venus de Milo Restaurant in Swansea, Massachusetts.


Events will begin at 6 p.m. hosted in Portuguese and English.


In keeping with the mission of Radio Voz do Emigrante to serve and represent the Lusophone community, RIC’s Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies (IPLWS) will be one of 10 organizations presented with an Outstanding Organization Award in recognition of its significant contributions.


“We are proud that the institute plays such a central role in connecting Rhode Island College to Lusophone communities,” said RIC President Frank D. Sánchez. “Through academic programming, educational events and significantly expanded study abroad opportunities, the institute has shared the Portuguese culture across New England and contributed greatly to our diverse community. We are honored that the institute is being recognized.”


Launched in 2006, the IPLWS was established to support and promote Portuguese studies at RIC, to act as a bridge between RIC and Lusophone communities, and to pursue scholarly and cultural research in the Portuguese language and Lusophone culture.


Director of IPLWS and RIC Associate Professor of Portuguese Studies Silvia Oliveira stated, “More than 10 percent of Rhode Island’s population claim ancestry from Portugal [the majority from the Azores archipelago], Cabo Verde and other Lusophone countries – the highest percentage of any state in the union. The history and contributions of this population are an integral part of the rich fabric of the state.”


“Our institute is a locus of cultural, literary, pedagogical and research resources inclusive of the entire Lusophone diaspora. It is a gathering place for cultural events, teacher conferences, literary resources, artistic exhibitions and performing arts productions, not only for RIC students but for the enrichment of Lusophone communities at large,” she said.


Among the IPLWS’ many contributions was to promote the establishment of a Portuguese major in RIC’s Modern Languages Department. Rhode Island College now has the distinction of being the only public institution of higher education in the state to offer a major in Portuguese. Currently, more than 300 RIC students enroll each year in Portuguese courses and 25 students are majoring and minoring in the language.


IPLWS has also significantly increased RIC study abroad opportunities in Portuguese-speaking countries and hosted local, national and international leaders at the college, including Rui Maria de Araújo, the prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, former prime minister and current minister of defense and security for the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Both dignitaries were awarded Presidential Medals by Sánchez in 2017.


IPLWS’ first director, Marie Fraley, noted that “since the institute’s inception, Frank Baptista, founder/producer/director of Rádio Voz do Emigrante, has been a valuable media partner for the IPLWS. The Portuguese-speaking community in our area depends on his broadcasts as a source of news and commentary on international, national and local issues in the Portuguese language.”


Rhode Island College congratulates Baptista on 30 years of broadcast excellence and is honored that he has included the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at Rhode Island College among the evening’s honorees.

Established in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Business, the School of Nursing and the School of Social Work. For more information, visit www.ric.edu.

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