By: Melissa Costa
Fall River - Try logging onto Facebook to quickly check a message and you may find
yourself clicking through new baby photos from that relative back in Portugal
you have not seen in years or connecting with an old flame from high school or
simply promoting your Portuguese business venture.
In the past, staying up to date with a relatives' life back in Portugal was challenging, networking was difficult and meeting people with similar interests was nearly impossible. Now, it's a Facebook click away.
When Manny Lopes from Cooking with Dad TV in Ludlow, Mass., started a Facebook site last fall his mission was "getting our little show out, beyond the community."
Mission accomplished, through Facebook his "little show" attracts clicks from fans all over the United States and countries around the world like Australia, South Africa, Germany, Portugal and some Caribbean islands.
"It's great to see the Portuguese communities from around the world connecting on my Facebook site. Although I don't have a huge number of fans yet, I am happy with the results so far," stated Lopes. "I'm hoping it keeps spreading. Many are of Portuguese heritage, but many others are not and are interested in the cuisine."
Regardless of what drives you to start a page, the fact is networking through Facebook has no borders, from Portuguese wine lovers in California, to Portuguese sports groups in Canada, to Heritage groups around the world, Facebook makes our immense world reachable.
"It's amazing to see where the interest is coming from," stated Marie Fraley, interim director for the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at Rhode Island College. "I enjoyed seeing the different countries, at least 15 countries besides the United States, Portugal and Canada. I have seen France, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain among others."
When Fraley decided to setup a Facebook page she simply had the institute's mission statement in mind - to support and promote the Portuguese Studies academic program at Rhode Island College, to bridge the connection between Rhode Island College and the Lusophone community and to pursue scholarly and cultural research in the areas of the Portuguese language and Lusophone culture.
"When starting the page on Facebook, I thought it would engage mostly young, college students," she stated. "You can see who is clicking in, male versus female, age groups, what countries the interest is coming from. It's generating not only interest, but excitement too."
According to Fraley, in roughly six weeks the institute's Facebook page has received well over 1,000 fans. The majority of interest comes from individuals 24 to 35 years old, representing roughly 35 percent of the clicks.
"It's early to measure impact, but I'm interested in seeing the response. It's great to get the word out on our different offerings," stated Fraley.
Also joining in on all the Facebook fun is António Ambrosio, president of the Day of Portugal and Portuguese Heritage in Rhode Island.
"Networking is key to success these days," stated Ambrosio. "Facebook being the biggest social network, allowed us to connect to many Portuguese and Luso-American from all generations. That's how we were able to have Portuguese soccer players Nani and Ricardo Vaz Te attend last year's Dia da Juventude."
According to Ambrosio, Facebook has been very helpful to the Day of Portugal and Portuguese Heritage in Rhode Island by allowing them to inform group members of events and keeping them informed of what is happening with the celebrations. It's a powerful tool, he said.
"It is a good way to promote our website," he concluded.
In fact, many Portuguese groups and organizations are doing the same. Take for instance the Rancho Folclórico of the Portuguese Social Club in Pawtucket which uses Facebook to communicate with members and fans, or the Portuguese-American Leadership Council of the U.S. (Palcus), which uses the social network to help Portuguese professionals who are looking to connect with each other and hold local networking events.
The reasons to join are endless. You might wish to connect with other Portuguese communities around the world like the Kingston Portuguese Community in Ontario, Canada or even the Elizabeth Portuguese LEO Club in New Jersey. You can even keep in touch with O Jornal's news and fans.
So for all of you not on Facebook, keep in mind there is a large Portuguese community in Facebook's small world and it's only a click away.
O Jornal, aqui.