The Portuguese Canadian History Project (PCHP) had the pleasure and privilege of co-organizing the York University’s Portuguese & Luso-Brazilian Studies program’s 1st Youth Summer Program, titled “The Lusophone World: Global and Local Communities,” which took place between July 10th and 14th.
Together with professors Maria João Dodman and Inês Cardoso (Dept. of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics), and Abubacar Fofana León (Harriett Tubman for Research on Africa and its Diasporas & Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean), our lead director Gilberto Fernandes assembled a week-long program of diverse educational activities for students between the ages of 14 and 18 (or grades 9 to 12). Besides the in- and out-of-classroom activities, this program offered free daily breakfast, lunch, and snacks, along with public transit fare for the students.
Along with teaching youth about the Lusophone world through activities that mixed learning with recreation, this program aimed to introduce high school students to university life. Most of the 26 students in the program were of Portuguese background, while others were of Angolan, Brazilian, Guatemalan, Filipino, Indian, Irish, Italian, and Vietnamese heritage.
From the Brazilian side, the project had the participation of musician Luanda Jones with some Brazil’s iconic samba and bossa-nova songs; Capoeira, led by Hélio de Souza; Prof. Gillian McGillivray, of Glendon College (York University), started the third day with a presentation on the history of Brazilian racial policies and identities through the lens of Samba music; the renowned painter Auerbach Vieira led a workshop on abstract painting, which prompted the students to create their own artworks using watercolours; the students learned how to film high-quality footage using their smartphones and inexpensive materials in a workshop led by Bruno Véras.
On the last day of the program, York University historian Gilberto Fernandes offered a shorter version of the PCHP’s walking tour “Portuguese Toronto: Early Decades” in Kensington Market. The students were able to explore the history of Portuguese immigration to Toronto on foot.
The first youth summer program of York University’s Portuguese and Luso-Brazilian Studies program was a great success! Besides advancing their knowledge about the Lusophone world and university life, the students left with new friends, memories, and references that will hopefully be advantageous to them in the future. The organizers too learned a great deal from preparing and running this program, and extended their network within Toronto’s school boards, which they look forward to building on in the future.
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