By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
Among the many varied cultures and countries represented at UMass Dartmouth, there is a significant population of Cape Verdean students. The Cape Verdean Students Association (CVSA) strives to integrate culture and awareness among the UMass Dartmouth community.
On Friday, April 7, the CVSA hosted its first annual Cape Verdean Day, with a reception and series of addresses in the Library Grand Reading Room.
The reception honored the most acclaimed guest of the afternoon, Cape Verdean Ambassador to the U.S. and former Prime Minister Carlos Veiga.
Veiga is one of the most experienced politicians in Cape Verde, having been a lawyer, member of parliament, and prime minister in the 1990s. He was an important figure in the country’s transition to becoming a multi-party democratic nation.
The afternoon opened with a welcome by Interim Chancellor Peyton Helm, followed by remarks by students and professors involved in cultural studies.
Dr. Richard Lobban of Rhode Island College gave a presentation, “Cape Verde in Ten Minutes,” summarizing the culture of Cape Verde, the history, and what the country stands for. Those native to the country welcomed the presentation, and those more unfamiliar with the country learned a lot about the context and history surrounding the day.
The series of speeches and information was met with an intermission in the form of a dance performance by the Cape Verdean Student Association Dance Team.
The dancers showcased dancing skills to some authentic Cape Verdean music. Despite a couple technical hiccups, the dancers wowed and received a lot of applause.
Afterwards, it was time for Ambassador Carlos Veiga to speak. He took the podium and discussed a little of the nation’s history and language. He expressed his pride in UMass Dartmouth for integrating Cape Verdean recognition and culture, and his pleasure in that the university has an official association for students of the ethnicity.
Veiga challenged the UMass Dartmouth Cape Verdean community to work together in this time of uncertainty, and to continue to bring the nation’s culture to everyday life at college. He expressed all this in his native language, being assisted by a translator.
A Q&A was held afterwards, between the audience and Veiga. Many questions were asked, a few focusing on Cape Verdeans voting in America. The clear undercurrent was the importance of presidential elections, especially because Cape Verde was one of the targets of President Trump’s recent executive orders.
The ambassador made an effort to answer some questions in English, which made those who couldn’t understand him feel closer to the opinions being shared.
As a gift to Veiga for honoring the community with his appearance at this first annual reception, the CVSA presented him with a framed picture of UMass Dartmouth to remember the evening by.
“I think Carlos Veiga’s presence made a big impact,” CVSA President Aruedy Dias told The Torch.
“He’s one of our greatest leaders, and him being here is important to us. Meeting great Cape Verdean leaders like him makes us feel alive, and we know we aren’t alone as Cape Verdeans.”
He also told us that next year, the CVSA would plan on having the reception on a weekend, to maximize attendance by students and professors.
Afterwards, Ambassador Veiga visited the UMass Dartmouth Law School to give a presentation to the students there. In the evening, he sat down and ate dinner with students of the CVSA.
This is just the first annual Cape Verdean Day at UMass Dartmouth, and you can expect more of their culture to be brought to the university in the future.