December 14, 2019

Open Letter From Rep. Gregg Amore, District 65 East Providence

Local Delegation Returns from Sao Miguel, Azores


"I just returned from a week in beautiful Sao Miguel, Azores where part of my time was spent in a diplomatic capacity. The trip gave me, Senator Valerie Lawson and Rep. Joe Serodio an opportunity to meet with the Azores’ Secretary of State, Rui Bettencourt, to discuss opening travel to Sao Miguel to multiple airlines, including SATA, on direct flights from and to T.F. Green (Right now, the only direct flights to the Azores from New England originate out of Boston’s Logan International Airport). Considering the significant population of people of Azorean descent who make their homes in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts and in acknowledgement of the economic dependency on tourism of both the Azores and Rhode Island, the members of the East Providence General Assembly delegation considered this an outstanding opportunity to promote T.F. Green, enhance trade and tourism between the Azores and Rhode Island, and help serve a large part of our constituency who have family members and friends who live in the Azores. We also discussed an educational exchange between Rhode Island College, the University of Rhode Island and the University of the Azores.

The State House delegation was also honored to be invited to Join Mayor Bob DaSilva as he was hosted by Mayor Jose Manuel Bolieiro of Ponta Delgada and Vice Mayor Tania Fonseca of East Providence’s sister city, Ribeira Grande (Councilwoman Anna Sousa had met with her earlier in the week prior to our arrival). These meetings also revolved around our desire to make travel to the Azores more convenient and about a possible high school student exchange program, between the three cities, when the new East Providence High School opens in the Fall of 2021. It was a moment of “Townie Pride” for the entire delegation as we stood beneath the street sign in the center of the City of Ribeira Grande that read, “Rua East Providence”.

The City of East Providence recently reciprocated by renaming a section of Taunton Avenue in honor of Ribeira Grande. Representative Joe Serodio and the Rhode Island House of Representatives’ staff, as well as prominent East Providence citizen and businessman Joao Pacheco, deserve great credit for the logistics and planning for these meetings. We all came away from the meetings believing that the face to face time discussing these issues was productive. It is important to note that there were no state or city tax dollars used to support this trip and the delegation spent the remaining days with their families, enjoying the island and its tremendous natural beauty, food and culture.

East Providence is a microcosm of the American experience as it became the home to immigrants from many nations looking for a better life for themselves and their posterity. My Irish and Italian ancestors made their way to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century seeking economic and political security and the Irish half of my family found a home, economic opportunity and a good life in the City of East Providence, where many of us still proudly reside. In the mid and late 20th century, Azorean immigrants came to the United States by the tens of thousands, leaving a breathtakingly beautiful homeland in an attempt to flee hardship and poverty and make a better future for themselves and their families. Many of them chose East Providence as their new home and we are all so incredibly fortunate that they did. Their work ethic, family centric lifestyle, religious devotion, pride in home and property ownership, and generous and good nature has greatly enhanced the cultural and economic fabric of our city.

Because I have taught and coached hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of students of Azorean heritage, and because so many of my friends and neighbors trace their roots to one of the nine Portuguese islands that make up the Azores, it was an honor and a great pleasure to finally visit their homeland and learn about its history and their past. I have memories that I will always treasure, new relationships that I hope will bear fruit for our city and state, and a new appreciation for the people of the Azores and their relatives and ancestors here in East Providence. Theirs, like most of ours, is a story that exemplifies the American dream and represents a shining example of the melting pot that America is and, hopefully, will always be."

Representative Gregg M. Amore
District 65 - East Providence


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