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Class focuses on Portuguese beliefs culture & traditions

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POSTED January 6, 2009 1:21 a.m.
While attending one of the area’s popular Portuguese events, Mary Del Pino overheard an older female guest lamenting that many local residents of Portuguese descent, especially those of the younger generation, are forgetting many of their old country’s culture and traditions, even the language.
“So many of us are getting older,” the woman said, wondering aloud who will pass these on to the next generations.
Someone in the group who knew Del Pino’s background as a teacher in the Manteca Unified School District turned to her and suggested that she should offer a class on this particular subject.
After mulling it over, Del Pino decided to do just that. Her “Portuguese Cultural Class” will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 7, at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane. The class will consist of nine hourly sessions to be held every Wednesday (except Feb. 18) from 3:40 to 4:30 p.m. until March 11.
Del Pino’s class syllabus covers the gamut of Portuguese history, traditions and beliefs, but it promises a lot of exciting interactive sessions as well. There will be discussions on “who we are, where did we come from?” and on to the “glory years — Henry the Navigator and Exploration” and “our specialties — dairy/farming/deep-sea fishing (whaling and tuna),” as well as the history of the FESM and MRPS Porguese festas in Manteca. But Del Pino will also spice up her classes with talks about Portuguese food and cuisine — “we eat more than ‘sopas’” — Portuguese dancing, in particular, the “Chamarita,” and learning basic Portuguese to help you “communicate when you take your trip to the Acores!”
The topic about Portuguese food, in fact, will be a potluck day for the class. The students will be asked to bring a dish to class using a Portuguese recipe. “I’ll bring the main dish,” Del Pino said.
On the subject of Chamarita, “I’ll teach you!” she said of this popular Portuguese folk dance which, in English, means, “Call Rita!”
The last topic will be on famous Portuguese. “Yes, there are more than John Phillip Sousa (the real music man!) Be proud of your Portuguese heritage!” Del Pino writes in her syllabus.
“Did you know that Tom Hanks is Portuguese?” she asked during the interview.
She said so many second- and third-generation Americans of Portuguese ancestry whose immigrant parents have passed away “tend to forget” the culture, traditions and beliefs that their parents and/or grandparents brought to their new country.
This class, she said, will “reacquaint those of Portuguese ancestry with their Portuguese roots, including history, immigration to the USA and a study of Manteca’s Portuguese community over the years.”
Cost per student is $25 which will cover the cost of printed materials for the students, the potluck entree and other miscellaneous expenses. Five dollars of the class fee remains with the Senior Center to help with programs there, Del Pino said.
Mary (Gomes) Del Pino is a special education teacher who currently teaches at Sierra High School, as well as an ESL (English as a Second Laguage) teacher at the Manteca Adult School. She also worked as a reporter at one time for the Manteca Bulletin and was the first editor of the LUSO-American Fraternal Magazine.
Sign ups for the class are taken at the Manteca Senior Center. Sign ups also will be accepted the first day of the class on Wednesday.
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