"The institute wants to be a resource. We want to make these connections and to send the message that they are welcome."
On a recent morning at Brockton High School, a student walked in looking for information about someday attending Bridgewater State University.
Luckily, there to meet him was Angelo Lopes Barbosa, interim director of the Pedro Pires Institute for Cape Verdean Studies. He was on hand, occupying the office space BSU maintains at the high school, just in case something like this happens.
And, it often does.
“It’s part of our job to be able to connect with these students,” Mr. Barbosa said later. “The institute wants to be a resource. We want to make these connections and to send the message that they are welcome.”
Simply answering questions about BSU or helping students navigate the application process can make a big difference for these young people, he added. “With the proper help they’re more confident, and they are not afraid to ask questions,” Mr. Barbosa added. This is especially valuable support for first-generation college students.
Working on behalf of the region’s underserved populations is only part of what the institute does. “Brockton is an important Cape Verdean space,” Mr. Barbosa said. “It represents the largest concentration in the area, so it’s natural for us to have a lot of good connections there.”
An example of this outreach is the recent BSU-sponsored trip to Cabo Verde taken by a dozen teachers from area K-12 schools, along with other city officials.
“It gives these teachers the opportunity to understand their students’ cultural backgrounds,” Mr. Barbosa said. “The experience was amazing, and when they came back, they made a proposal to go back again next year.” So far, 20 area educators have signed on for that trip.
Another initiative in line with BSU’s commitment to racial justice is the creation of the Cape Verdean studies minor. With a focus on the island nation’s language, culture, history and education, the minor “creates a space where people can speak and learn about these different issues,” Mr. Barbosa said. A number of students have already enrolled in the minor.
The institute has also struck up key partnerships with Brockton officials, including the mayor’s office, the schools and other Cape Verdean organizations that operate in the city.
“The idea is to create a network that helps connect people to area resources and to also help young people who want to enroll at BSU,” Mr. Barbosa said.
Much of the work the institute does has an organic racial justice element, he said.
“Because of the nature of our work, one of the discussions we always have is about equity, representation and access,” Mr. Barbosa said. “We know this conversation is relevant and very important to the work we do.”