LUSO AMERICAN EDUCATION FOUNDATION- The 44th annual conference is held virtually for the first time

The Luso-American Education Foundation held its first ever virtual conference.  With the theme: The Portuguese-American Experience in California-Reflection and Prospective Changes in Unprecedented Times, the conference was hosted by the Portuguese-Beyond Borders Institute (PBBI) at California State University Fresno, and was chaired by LAEF vice-president of public relations and PBBI founding director Diniz Borges, who also teaches Portuguese at Fresno State and the College of the Sequoias. 

The decision to make the conference a virtual event was taken by the LAEF board of directors in May of 2020.  The conference was held from September 26th until October 3rd and focused primarily on the Portuguese-American community in California, and its connection with other lusophone communities, with attendees from the Macanese and Brazilian community in California, as well as a panel on Portuguese as a Global Language and the opportunities that brings to students and the community art large.  The opening Session had a host of Portuguese and American entities, including the Consul-General of Portugal in San Francisco Maria João Lopes Cardoso; Portugal’s Ambassador to the US, Domingos Fezas Vital; the President of FLAD, Rita Faden and Portuguese-American Congressman Jim Costa.  The Keynote Speaker was Berta Nunes, Secretary of State for Immigration from Portugal.   The closing session had as Keynote Speaker Paulo Teves, Regional Director for Azorean Communities.  

The conference had over 70 panelists from every part of California. The sessions focused on an engaging discussion of ideas and prospects for community in these unprecedented and consequential times.  From the Portuguese halls to the Portuguese popular traditions; from the statewide organizations (and national representation from PALCUS and Luso Financial) to writers and poets of the Portuguese Diaspora in California; from the Media in our Portuguese-American community to the teaching of the Portuguese language in California, which must always be seen as a community endeavor, to a panel on Young Portuguese-American students and a LAEF showcase. The conference looked within the community and brought together an array of community leaders, language specialists, school administrators, teachers, cultural activists, writers, poets, translators, editors and students, all of them with strong connections to the community.

The conference was done through the Fresno State Webinar system, livestreamed by Televisão Portuguesa da California (João Manuel Dias), Facebook Live and now is achieved on the Fresno State PBBI YouTube channel.  The planning committee will be issuing a report with conclusions that were drawn from the various panels in a community that is ever changing but continues to thrive in many aspects.  The intergenerational composition of the panels is indicative of the unique bond that holds the community together.

All sessions had opening and closing remarks by the current LAEF president Bernice Pelicas, and the Chairman of the Board, Eduardo Eusébio.  Technical support and publicity were coordinated by Anthony Pio, João Manuel Dias and PBBI-Fresno State.

In these challenging times, once again, the Luso-American EducatIon Foundation rose to the occasion and led the community in a much-needed reflection, as it celebrated the past, discussed the present, and planned for the future of a community that is ever-changing and living the metamorphosis that all ethnic groups have experienced in the United States. The Luso-American Education Foundation and the Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute from Fresno State brought to the California community a unique opportunity, that was also seen and commented by other communities throughout North America.  A document, with a host of action items  put forth by the various panels, is being compiled by the organizing committee and will  soon be available.  The community has shown resilience and determination in these challenging times.

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