Our club represents Portuguese and Portuguese-speaking students at the University of Toronto. Every year the University of Toronto Portuguese Association (U.T.P.A.), a group of students who are interested in the Portuguese culture, promote new coming Portuguese and Portuguese-speaking students (and all students) to come to the university to study. Our message is that Lusophone young students can be whoever they would like to become. The UTPA is here to help them on their journey.
We show students that university life does not have to be a lonely journey but rather it can be an opportunity to meet new people, to have new opportunities. We get involved in many Outreach programs like Adopt-a-Student Day, our peer mentoring program which allows 1st and 2nd year students to be paired up with upper-year students who are available to guide them through their University journey. We also have a scholarship program every year for new students of Portuguese descent who come to the University to study.
Our members are not all necessarily of Portuguese descent – some are Portuguese, most Luso-Canadian and others from other nationalities. Our only requirements to be a member are having an interest in the Portuguese culture, being a dedicated person, and being a team member. It is in the hands of our members to promote our message. Each member has the right to speak out. We have our Social Coordinators that plan events, discuss the details and plan out when, where, and how the event is to happen. Our Secretary stays in contact with other clubs, events, and news, and relays the information to the other group members. The Secretary is also the person who others contact if they want to apply for the scholarship or need specific information about our association. Our Web Designer designs our website, as well as updates it with any news and upcoming events. Our Treasurer is responsible for our financial affairs. He/she controls the expenses versus the profits and is responsible to work out our budgets for our events. The President and Vice-President are the contact people for specific problems or concerns that some may have. They are the people who decide the positions, have the right to decide who is committed and responsible and who is fulfilling their tasks. They are also responsible to get the club’s recognition and any specific campus rights they may require.
Above all, all of our members are students themselves, so we have to balance our duties and schedules, which is not an easy task. We are all friends and we enjoy being part of a small but growing group. Many other students are aware of us and get involved during an event, but decide that they do not have the time to attend the meetings of the UTPA. For the members who are part of the UTPA, it is a comfortable and fun environment. It is a chance to make new friends and to plan and develop new contacts. We celebrate every ending UTPA year with a scholarship dinner, our “Primavera Gala” at which we reward our Luso-Canadian scholarship winners who have been admitted to the University of Toronto. They are also featured in our annual magazine, “Origens”, which includes all of our events during that school year and news that may be important for anyone who is interested in joining.
This year the UTPA is hoping to have a fantastic year; one that we can make the founders and past members of the UTPA proud of. We will leave the constitution with a few words that one of our past members had expressed towards the UTPA: “In a school that is so big and where it seems that you are outnumbered, where everyone seems to be successful and where many times you feel lost, having a place to belong like the UTPA has made me comfortable and confident. It has made my university years much easier. Thank you UTPA team.” a Luso-Portuguese, previous UTPA member.