“If I have to limit myself to one word, my characterization of this community… is generosity,” Consul Pires said at the farewell meeting
NEW BEDFORD – Although the Portuguese Consul in New Bedford recognizes that saying goodbye is part of her job description, she admits it’s something she avoids.
“It’s not something I like,” said Shelley Pires at a farewell meeting in her honor hosted by Discovery Language Academy on July 8. “I prefer to remember them [people] without saying goodbye. In my head, I will see them again.
After spending the past four years overseeing the New Bedford consular area – which includes Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties – Pires returns to Portugal on August 10 to take on new duties at the Foreign Office in Lisbon . His successor will be RogÃ©rio Paulo Silvestre Lopes, who was previously stationed at the Portuguese Embassy in Dublin, Ireland.
âThese four years have been difficult and I have learned a lot,â she told the crowd which included community, academic and business leaders. âIf I have to limit myself to one word, my characterization of this community, of partners, whether Portuguese or American, is generosity. Generosity of time, generosity of talents and generosity of patience.
Pires said she would always be very grateful.
“I’m not perfect, I’m sure there were times when the experience wasn’t too positive or too pleasant,” she added. âSometimes you can’t always say yes. But overall I did what I could and to the best of my knowledge. If I did something right, it was because of the help I received from othersâ¦ And I wish you all the best.
Throughout the evening, the Consul received praise and recognition for her service here.
Stephen Ferreira, president of Discovery Language Academy – speaking on behalf of the school leadership team, board of trustees, teachers and students – said the event was meant to “celebrate a woman very special “.
âDr. Pires, I sincerely thank you tonight for all that you have done for our school and our children over the past four years, in raising funds for our children on the south coast and for our summer program of Portuguese language and culture, “he said.” We wish you success in your future endeavors. “
Dr Leslie Vicente, the school’s executive director, said that Pires has not only been a big supporter of the school’s programs, but has also helped project its name internationally.
âI have so many things I can thank this woman for,â Dr Vicente said.
With the advice and support of the consul, the school received grants from the Secretariat of Portuguese Communities, which were used to fund a summer program of Portuguese language and culture and other educational initiatives.
Part of these funds were used to cover travel expenses for two students selected to represent the Discovery Language Academy at the session of the National Youth Parliament – 2018/2019 held in the Portuguese Parliament. They also made possible special field trips, such as a trip to Boston to meet the President of Portugal and a visit to the Boys & Girls Club Family Center in Springfield to meet Governor Charlie Baker.
âThis is our fourth year. We have 44 children this summer, âsaid Dr Vicente. âNone of this would have been possible without her. It was she who introduced me to this extraordinary scholarship which allows me not only to teach our language and our culture, but also to show so many things that these children would never have the chance to see. These are once in a lifetime experiences. ”
Dr Vicente said the consul had also been instrumental in facilitating a partnership between the school and the CamÃµes Institute, a Portuguese international institution dedicated to the global promotion of the Portuguese language and Portuguese culture in name of the government of Portugal.
âThere is a huge Atlantic Ocean between us and she finds a way to connect our school to Portugal,â said Dr Vicente. âPeople in Portugal know what Discovery Language Academy is and that is mainly because of it. I think we can all agree that Shelley has done unprecedented things for our community, especially for small organizations that have been overlooked in the past. “
Amanda McMullen, president and CEO of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, said the consul was not only an important partner for her institution, but clearly for the community.
âYou’ve helped me lead the way in terms of community connections and I just appreciate this partnership,â said McMullen.
As a thank you, McMullen presented the Consul with an autographed copy of the book “O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt” written by Michael P. Dyer, curator of the museum’s maritime history, presenting illustrations of whaling scenes, scrimshaw, prints and paintings.
Marc Santos, president of the New Bedford chapter of the Prince Henry Society, said it seemed like the consul’s term was ending fairly quickly.
“Looks like you’ve just arrived,” he said. âWe are grateful for the collaborations we have had the chance to make. We wish you the best in your future endeavors and endeavors.
But it was Manuel de Melo Jr., a member of the staff at the Consulate, who provided perhaps the most illuminating moment of the evening when he was invited by Dr Vicente to say a few words.
“What you don’t know is that the consulate is still standing because of this young woman,” he said, using the Portuguese expression “Cair o Carmo ea Trindade”, which is used for point to facts that may have serious consequences, in order to highlight how difficult Pires’ tenure has been in a consular office that is not only understaffed for so long, but has had to face real and persistent challenges to the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The consulate is still standing because this lady did everything to make it where it is today,” he said. âWe thank God that you came. Itâs a shame that youâre leaving. You will miss a lot of people when you are gone.