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Paulo Borges' Journey: Cabo Verde to BSU and Home Again

Paulo Borges defied all odds. The poverty he experienced as a child motivated him to rise above it and rise above it, he did.

Borges grew up in a small town on the island of Santiago, the largest island on Cabo Verde. Known for its mountains, harbors and perfect weather, it’s a beautiful island, but its people are poor. The result: little to no opportunities to pursue higher education or professional development.

He, however, managed to complete elementary and secondary school in his hometown. His journey from his 1998 high school graduation to English professor at Uni-CV was a circuitous one: several years teaching English at the high school level, several more studying and working in the tourism industry.

By way of circuitous journeys, while at Uni-CV he learned of the opportunity to study for a semester at Bridgewater. He applied, was accepted, earned transfer credits, and returned home energized, his future a little clearer. He made his way back to Uni-CV, which is where he earned his bachelor’s in English.

This renewed energy and clearer purpose led him to return to Bridgewater where he earned his Master of Arts in Teaching English in 2013. This degree opened the door to teaching at Uni-CV, which he viewed as an exciting opportunity to help his country move forward. Visit “Insights” where Borges shares his passion for the Homeland.

Paulo Borges poses with Uni-CV students in Cabo Verde

How did Borges’ BSU experience influence him?

Thinking back to his Bridgewater experience, Borges pointed to Bridgewater President Fred Clark’s influence on his leadership style. “President Clark did one little thing that changed the way we [the CV students at BSU] see the world. He served us,” said Borges. “How can a president serve us, the students? We were all stunned by that, and it taught me one big lesson: the bigger you are, the more you must serve.

“Everything I do today, I describe as serving people.”

When asked about his overall BSU experience, Borges was clear. “Creativity,” he said. “I came back to Cabo Verde and started replicating what is done at Bridgewater.”

He cited BSU’s Academic Achievement Center as a positive program to replicate and said that, while Uni-CV didn’t get to the point of creating a center, the principles of support were evident.

His creativity manifested itself in the projects he initiated. “I introduced the American Corner at Uni-CV and helped coordinate a Bridgewater student exchange program. Borges cites one exchange when 10 Uni-CV students traveled to Bridgewater for a two-week workshop. “When students come back from Bridgewater,” he said, “they are not the same as when they left. Bridgewater has a tremendous impact.”

According to the American Corner website, “The U.S. has launched 245 American Corners in approximately 60 countries. American Corners serve as regional resource centers for information and programs highlighting American culture, history, current events, and government."

Bridgewater’s impact is evident in the ways in which Bridgewater experiences are “helping to turn Cabo Verde into a more competitive country,” he said. “The English language is an instrument of knowledge. The students who took part in that program are now participating in English in international conferences and workshops."

As for himself, he said, “Bridgewater changed me as a person. Bridgewater made me more confident. I learned how to put into practice what I learned.

“I learned how to deal with different kinds of people. More diverse people from different backgrounds from different countries. I feel who I am today, and my discoveries, my Bridgewater experience fulfilled all my needs.

“I am Cape Verdean, but I have a big piece of Bridgewater in me.”

What was Borges’ professional trajectory post BSU?

Professor Borges earned his bachelor’s in English from the University of Cabo Verde (Uni-CV) and, in 2013, his Master of Arts in Teaching English from Bridgewater State University (BSU).

Professor of English at Uni-CV Paulo Borges wasted no time when he returned to Cabo Verde after earning his master’s degree at Bridgewater. He quickly secured a position teaching English as a Second Language at Uni-CV.

Borges established the English Language Institute at Uni-CV and was its first director. In 2015, the Institute was renamed the Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria English Language Institute in honor of the former president of BSU who has been pivotal in establishing and growing the Bridgewater-Cabo Verde relationship over the past 20 years.

The main goal of the Dana Mohler-Faria English Language Institute is to promote the English language through a number of activities including, among other things, book clubs, social media, and organized workshops.

Borges stepped down from the directorship of the English Language Institute in 2022 when he accepted the position of coordinator of American Corner, a job that demands much time and creativity. He continues to teach at Uni-CV.

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