Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies sign now

PORTUGUÊS
=========

Dr. Rui Chancerelle de Machete, Presidente
Conselho Executivo
Fundação Luso Americana para o Desenvolvimento/Luso-American Foundation
Rua do Sacramento à Lapa, 21
1249-090 Lisboa
Portugal

Ms. Donzelina Barroso, Advisor
J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
437 Madison Avenue, 37th Fl.
New York, NY 10022
EUA

29 de Outubro de 2007

Ex.mos Dr. Machete e Dra. Barroso,

Enquanto colegas (1) e alunos de Mestrado do Professor Joseph Abraham Levi, tendo tido a oportunidade de trabalhar com ele sobre diferentes assuntos académicos, como artigos e revistas, tendo participado em inúmeras conferências em Portugal, assim como em outras partes Mundo, dos Estados Unidos da América a Macau onde o Professor Levi também contribuiu na sua função de conferencista ou de coordenador de mesa, e tendo tido a ocasião de observá-lo (ou aprender dele, enquanto estudantes) em diferentes aulas/seminários de graduação e pós-graduação (em universidades portuguesas como nas de outros países) sobre as mais diversas matérias do saber humano das literaturas em língua portuguesa e da linguística/filologia românica, sobretudo portuguesa, aos crioulos de base portuguesa, passando pelos Estudos Africanos, Judaicos (particularmente Sefarditas), Italianos, Árabes, Islâmicos e de Mulher/Género vimos, por estes meios, solicitar à Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento e ao J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I, nas suas capacidades de principais patrocinadores financeiros, que desenvolvam esforços para que o Professor Levi continue na suas funções de administrador (2) do Instituto de Língua Portuguesa e de Estudos Lusófonos no Rhode Island College, nomeadamente, o Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies, centro por ele concebido e criado a 21 de Outubro de 2006.

É de nosso conhecimento que, logo após o lançamento do Instituto, algo derivou para o conflito, pondo em causa o trabalho desempenhado pelo Professor Levi na fundação e na projecção do Instituto quer nos EUA, quer fora do País. Infelizmente a situação tende a agravar-se, o que pode implicar o seu afastamento enquanto docente de Rhode Island College e responsável pelo Instituto (3). Atendendo ao excelente papel desenvolvido pelo Professor Levi (testemunhado pelos alunos de Rhode Island College) pensamos que a sua saída, caso se confirme, possa conduzir a uma perda irreparável, pondo em causa o trabalho até aqui desenvolvido e que a língua portuguesa, a história e as culturas das áreas geográficas de língua portuguesa passem para uma posição insignificante dentro da Universidade.

Vimos, portanto, pedir à Fundação Luso-Americana e ao J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I, nas suas funções de principais investidores financeiros do Instituto, que indaguem sobre a situação criada e, sobretudo, que intercedam a fim de que o Professor Levi continue a liderar o Instituto, por ele idealizado e, até à data, muito bem dirigido. Enquanto profissionais no sector académico quer no âmbito do ensino da língua portuguesa e das culturas de língua portuguesa, quer no sector administrativo sentimos portanto o dever de alertar a Fundação Luso-Americana e o J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I para o perigo de o mundo académico perder um dos pouquíssimos, talvez o único, impulsionadores da língua portuguesa e dos estudos lusófonos em terras norte-americanas.

Enquanto colegas e alunos do Professor Levi podemos testemunhar a alta capacidade e qualidade académica do seu trabalho e, ao mesmo tempo, o incansável empenho em propagar o estudo da língua portuguesa e dos estudos lusófonos no estrangeiro, particularmente nos Estados Unidos da América. As suas estadias anuais em Portugal, durante os meses de Maio e Junho, onde o Professor Levi é constantemente convidado para leccionar ou participar em diferentes congressos sobre os mais diferentes assuntos do saber humano, são provas irrefutáveis de que estamos perante una pessoa altamente qualificada e completamente dedicada ao ensino da língua portuguesa e dos estudos lusófonos. Ulterior prova disto são as anuais visitas à Feira do Livro de Lisboa onde inevitavelmente o Professor Levi gasta entre dois e três mil euros em livros académicos assim como em manuais escolares, material esse usado não só nas suas aulas mas também, e mormente, nas várias sessões de acção de formação oferecidas pelo Professor Levi, e seus assistentes ou professores convidados, para os professores de Português como Língua Estrangeira nas escolas secundárias nos Estados de Rhode Island, Massachusetts e Connecticut.

Lamentamos imenso esta situação, sobretudo tendo em conta o facto de que se trata de um meio académico, no qual situações como estas nada contribuem para o bom funcionamento da instituição, da língua portuguesa e, mormente, das culturas de língua portuguesa, alvo principal do Instituto.

Esperamos vivamente que se encontre uma saída que dê continuidade e que fortaleça o trabalho iniciado, projectado e actualmente em andamento sob a égide e a liderança do Professor Levi. Temos plena confiança no labor académico e nas capacidades administrativas do Professor Levi o qual, apesar de não ter origens étnicas em nenhuns dos povos de língua e cultura portuguesas, tem demonstrado ao longo de vinte e cinco anos possuir não só as qualificações necessárias para liderar tal projecto, mas também, e mormente, tem patenteado um grande amor para com a língua portuguesa e as culturas de língua portuguesa, fenómeno esse não muito comum em um académico norte-americano. Gostaríamos de sublinhar que além de possuir as qualificações académicas necessárias e obrigatórias para ser um professor de Português e de Estudos Lusófonos, incluindo o facto de, illo tempore, ter estudado em Portugal, o Professor Levi é um dos poucos indivíduos que consegue expressar-se em português como um falante nativo e que consegue perceber as particularidades mais recônditas da língua portuguesa assim como das culturas dos povos que se exprimem nesta língua. Isto é um factor que deve ser tomado em consideração, pois o Instituto precisa de uma pessoa qualificada quer do ponto de vista linguístico quer do ponto de vista do conhecimento das culturas lusófonas, sobretudo em terras diaspóricas, como no caso do Rhode Island, onde se encontra uma grande comunidade de luso-descendentes e de cabo-verdianos. Colocamo-nos à disposição para uma conversa pessoal com ambas as vossas instituições, caso queiram obter esclarecimentos ou ulteriores informações em mérito.

ENGLISH
=======

October 29, 2007

Dear Dr. Machete and Ms. Barroso,

As colleagues (4) and Master of Arts students of Dr. Levi, having had the opportunity of working with him on different academic subjects, such as articles and journals, having participated at innumerous conferencesin Portugal as well as in the rest of world, from the United States to Macauwhere Dr. Levi also contributed as speaker and/or chair of a panel, and having had the opportunity of observing him (5) teach different classes/graduate seminars (in Portuguese universities as well as in other universities around the world) on many different topicse.g., Lusophone Literatures, Romance/Portuguese Philology, African Studies, Jewish Studies, particularly Sephardic Studies, Italian Studies, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Women and Gender Studies, to name the most prominent oneswe are hereby asking the Fundação Luso-Americana/Luso-American Foundation and the J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I, in their capacities of major founding donors of the endowment fund that allowed the creation of the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies, that take the necessary steps in order to ascertain that Dr. Levi continue as administrator (6) of the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies, center conceived by him and launched on October 21, 2006.

We understand that soon after the opening of the Institute things took a turn for the worse, but it was thanks to Dr. Levi, to his dedication to the teaching of the Portuguese Language and the Lusophone cultures that the Institute exists and that Rhode Island College now enjoys a respectable reputation when it comes to Portuguese Studies in the United States as well as in other non-Portuguese-speaking countries where Portuguese is taught. Unfortunately, the situation has reached a point in which the administration at Rhode Island College could decide not to rehire Dr. Levi in his capacities as professor as well as administrator of the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies (7). Taking into account Dr. Levis role within Portuguese Studies (as it can be vouched for by students, faculty, and staff at Rhode Island College), we therefore think that his leaving the College, should this happen, could lead to a very detrimental loss, putting an end to the work and the progress so far reached, always thanks to Dr. Levi, within Portuguese Studies (e.g., the Portuguese language as well as the history and the cultures of the Lusophone countries/areas of the world). Inevitably, Dr. Levis departure will place Portuguese Studies in an insignificant position within the College.

We are therefore asking the Fundação Luso-Americana/Luso-American Foundation and the J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I, in their capacities of major founding donors of the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies that investigate the abovementioned situation and that, moreover, intercede so that Dr. Levi continue as administrator of the Institute, devised by him and, up-until-now, extremely well-directed. As professionals in the academic fieldeither as professors of Portuguese or as administratorswe hereby feel that it is our duty to alert the Fundação Luso-Americana/Luso-American Foundation and the J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I against the danger of the academic world losing one of the very few promoters, perhaps the only one, of the Portuguese Language and Lusophone Studies in the United States. As colleagues and students of Dr. Levi we can testify to the high quality and caliber of his work as a teacher and scholar of the Portuguese Language and Lusophone Studies, and, at the same time, we can bear witness to his unremitting effort in promoting the Portuguese Language and Lusophone Studies abroad, particularly in the United States. His annual visits to Portugal, during the months of May and June, where Dr. Levi is constantly invited to teach, lecture, or to participate at different conferences on many different academic subjects, are irrefutable proof of the fact that Dr. Levi is a highly qualified individual, a person completely dedicated to teaching the Portuguese Language and Lusophone Studies. Further proof of this are the annual visits to the Annual Book Fair of Lisbon (end of Maymiddle of June) where Dr. Levi inexorably spends between two - and three-thousand euros in academic books as well as teaching material/books, the latter used not only for the lower - and middle-division Portuguese language courses at Rhode Island College, but also, and more importantly, for distribution during the many workshop sessions held at the College geared towards high-school teachers of Portuguese in the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

We are very saddened by this situation, especially if we think that this is happening within an academic environment: its aftermath will influence negatively on the good and smooth operation of the College, of the Portuguese Language, and, most of all, of the Lusophone cultures, main objective of the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies. We sincerely hope that a solution to this problem can be found; a solution that gives continuity and that strengthens the work initiated by, planned, and currently under the aegis and the leadership of Dr. Levi. We have full confidence in the academic capabilities as well as in the administrative skills of Dr. Levi who, even though does not have any ethnic ties to any of the Portuguese-speaking people, has demonstrated, during the past twenty-five years, of possessing not only the necessary qualifications to lead such a project, but also, and more importantly, has shown a great passion for the Portuguese Language and the Lusophone cultures, a phenomenon not very easy to find in an American professor/scholar. Furthermore, we would like to point out the fact that, besides holding all the required qualifications in order to be a professor of Portuguese Language and Lusophone cultures, including the fact that he has also studied in Portugal, Dr. Levi is one of the few individuals who can express himself in Portuguese as an educated native and who understands the most intricate nuances of the Portuguese language as well as of the Portuguese-speaking cultures. This is something extremely important and it should not be overlooked, since the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies needs a highly qualified person, linguistically as well as when it comes to knowledge of the Lusophone cultures, particularly the Lusophone cultures of the Diaspora and their descendants, as in the case of Rhode Island where there is a great community of people who claim Portuguese and Cape Verdean ancestry.

Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us, we would be more than happy to answer to all your questions and/or queries regarding this matter.

NOTAS / NOTES
=============

(1) - Incluídos neste grupo também se encontram funcionários do Estado Português e outros membros da comunidade internacional os quais, mesmo não tendo tido a oportunidade de observar o Professor Levi nas suas funções de educador/conferencista, podem testemunhar das suas capacidades intelectuais e do seu empenho em promover a língua portuguesa e os estudos lusófonos.

(2) - Aliás escapa-nos o motivo pelo qual o Rhode Island College deu ao Professor Levi o título de Program Director em vez de Director. Rogamos à Fundação Luso-Americana e ao J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I que investiguem em mérito.

(3) - Acabamos de receber a triste notícia de que o Rhode Island College optou por não renovar o contrato ao Professor Levi. Na nossa opinião o Rhode Island College não só está a fustigar o Professor Levi mas também, e mormente, está a pôr em risco o futuro da Língua Portuguesa, dos Estudos Lusófonos e, consequente e inevitavelmente, está a destruir o labor começado pelo Professor Levi no Instituto.

(4) - Also included in this group are public employees of the Portuguese Government as well as members of the international community at large who either witnessed first-hand or can testify to Professor Levis intellectual capabilities as well as his dedication in promoting the Portuguese language and Lusophone Studies.

(5) - Or learning from him, as in the case of graduate students enrolled in the Master of Arts program at the University of Évora and/or the University of Lisbon.

(6) - Actually, we fail to comprehend the reason why Dr. Levi was given by Rhode Island College the title of Program Director instead of Director. We therefore ask the Fundação Luso-Americana/Luso-American Foundation and the J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I investigate such matter.

(7) - Actually, we have just heard that the administration has indeed decided not to hire Dr. Levi as of July 1, 2008. This is very disapointing. We feel that in putting apart Dr. Levi Rhode Island College is undervalue the Portuguese Language, the Lusophone cultures, and, more importantly, is endangering and inevitably destroying the work started by Dr. Levi at the Institute.

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Fundação Luso Americana para o Desenvolvimento & J.B. Fernandes Memorial Trust I

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