Portuguese History Day

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - 10:09

On the past 23rd of April, Portuguese History Day took place, an initiative by Católica Medical School, organized by the Diversity Club of Católica Medical School’s Students’ Union, aiming to introduce the history and culture of Portugal to international students of the Faculty of Medicine.

The day began at 9 AM with a brief presentation about the history of Portugal by the students Ana Rita Hamakassa Mateus and Francisco Fernandes Afonso, Co-presidents of the Diversity Club. This was the first contact that international students from over 6 different nationalities had regarding Portuguese History. The presentation covered topics such as the formation of Portugal, the Age of Discoveries, the Impact of Slavery, the First Republic, the Estado Novo, the April 25th Carnation Revolution, and the Decolonization.

Next, the students boarded a minibus to Belém, where they visited the Belém Tower, the Monument to the Overseas Combatants, the Monument to the Discoveries, and the Jerónimos Monastery. Impressions and perspectives about the significance of these monuments to Portuguese history were shared, with a special contribution on the impact of the Colonial War and its consequences by Débora Marques de Oliveira, collaborator from the academic services of CMS. After a theoretical contextualization about the Age of Discoveries near the Monument to the Discoveries, by Tomás Alves Fragoso,  collaborator from CADOS (Catholic Doctoral School), a playful moment followed to conclude the morning.

The first part of the peddy paper activity then took place, where students had to search for clues scattered around Praça do Império to complete crosswords related to Portuguese history and culture, such as: "Lusíadas", "bica", "Vasco da Gama". This was followed by lunch at a typical Portuguese restaurant, where students could experience the variety of Portuguese gastronomy.

After lunch, the excursion resumed by minibus to the Santa Luzia Viewpoint. After enjoying the view, a steep walk followed to São Jorge Castle, where students continued to complete the crossword puzzle that would lead them to the next location to explore, in this case: Alfama. The following clues introduced students to important figures of Portuguese fado culture. The last clue led the students to Praça do Comércio, where they had to answer the question: "What event occurred on November 1st, 1755?" concluding the crossword’s mystery word: SAUDADE.

The feedback from the day was very positive; international students felt they had learned about the culture and history of the country where they study. They appreciated the balance between the initial theoretical component and occasional explanations during the excursion, as well as the fact that there was a playful component that helped them consolidate knowledge throughout the day. At the end of the day, relating the Portuguese History Day to the Integrated Master's Degree in Medicine at CMS, students feel that this initiative provided them with a socio-historical-cultural framework that will allow them to perform better with their future patients during their clinical years in Portugal.

Written by: Ana Rita Hamakassa Mateus and Francisco Fernandes Afonso 

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