Saturday, April 12, 2008


So far my cultural engagement with the Portuguese of Fall River has been interesting, eye opening, and meaningful. This experience, though not complete, has certainly served to change my own beliefs and understandings of the world. I can’t say that I am a totally different person or have changed dramatically. I will say that I have been reminded of the world that exists outside my bubble of Barrington and Wheaton.

Learning about the lives of Portuguese upon arrival here, and generations later has reminded me of my ancestors, who immigrated to this country several generations ago. They, though Irish and not Portuguese, likely faced similar circumstances. Being new to this country they, like many Portuguese in Fall River, faced prejudice and struggled to start a new life here.

In the process these immigrants became a vital piece of their community, not just a separate entity. One realization I have had has to do with my view of immigrants. To be honest, I never really thought my life had anything to do with the lives of new immigrants. It was easy for me to forget that not too long ago my relatives were essentially them (though not Portuguese). I am reminded that most Americans are from immigrant stock and we are all enriched by each other’s experiences

1 comment:

SamAndreacchi said...

I found your blog particularly interesting as you actually immersed yourself in a culture that is technically, physically in the middle of our own. I thought it was very smart to look at why the Portuguese immigrated and to acknowledge their history since understanding a people’s past is vital and necessary to understanding that people’s present and future as well. I also enjoyed the food blog and began to feel how much a part of their culture their food is. The physical descriptions of the town also helped me to picture the community in my mind and create a setting for the other blogs. The discussion of work ethic I felt was also important. I never would have thought to discuss it, but it really puts into perspective what role the Portuguese play in our society and why that is. Their work ethic is what helped them immerse into American society as a whole. However, I think you did a great job of depicting that while they are part of American society, they still hold their Portuguese traditions close to their hearts and have created a community for themselves that feels somewhat like home. I also thought the way you discussed space was effective. It seemed from your descriptions that simply crossing a bridge resulted in a change of space, not only in terms of physicality but also in cultural terms. However, having read your blogs up to this point, I think some anecdotes from people that live in Fall River would add some depth to your blog. Interviews would be helpful in terms of learning about how people feel about their community. I think language would be another really good thing to look at. Do people continue to speak Portuguese, or do they feel like they have to speak English in order to truly be considered American? I think in terms of immigrants, at least with my experience with those who have immigrated, they are usually open to discussing how they feel in their new environments and what it was about the old environments that pushed them to leave. I think it also could have been interesting to look at children that are part of the first or even second generation and not only those who were the original immigrants. How do they feel about their background? Do they feel they are more a part of American culture, or is their Portuguese heritage very much a part of who they identify themselves as? Questioning identity, on the whole, would be something to do as well, for example, looking at how we view this Portuguese community and how they view themselves as a community. Overall, I think these first few blogs really set the foundation for the start of something really in-depth and eye-opening.