John McPhail presents awards to Al Howlett and Marilia Sa.
Maine Partners celebrated 50 years of partnership with its chapter in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil on July 19.
Partners of the Americas President and CEO John McPhail, President of Rio Grande do Norte Chapter Marilia Sa, President of Maine Chapter Al Howlett, First President of Maine Partners Alan Rubin, and other distinguished guests came together in Yarmouth, Maine to celebrate past accomplishments and discuss the future directions for Partners of the Americas. Ken Curtis, who served as the Governor of Maine when the partnership was created, also attended. The attendees convened at the home of Bob Moyer and Cathy Lee, who is on the Maine Chapter Board of Directors.
At the event, John described his vision for how to strengthen and support the Maine-Rio Grande do Norte partnership. Guests discussed possible new projects for the Chapters, including bicycling, jewelry, sustainable farming, and a video project. The Chapters also presented a short film produced by Breanna Penny (Maine) and Andre Farkatt (RN) of Maine dancer Kate Marchessault in Brazil.
Maine and Rio Grande do Norte have collaborated as partners since 1967. The two states share several geographic features, including the fact that each is the northeastern-most state of their respective country. Even before the founding of Partners of the Americas, the people of Natal, RN had a friendly relationship with Americans. Natal functioned as a “jumping off” point for thousands of World War II aircraft being transferred to Dakar, Africa. According to the Maine Chapter’s website, “Several thousand U.S. airmen and sailors stationed in Natal left a history of goodwill, historic images and friendships that are evident in the city today.”
Over the past 50 years, citizens in both states have gathered a greater understanding of each state’s culture, history, and language. Volunteers have accomplished such initiatives as constructing wells in drought-stricken areas to providing education and cultural exchanges. More recently, the Chapter has focused on promoting social justice through a domestic violence project and conducting cultural exchanges through visiting art exhibitions.
The Maine-Rio Grande do Norte 50 year anniversary represents President John F. Kennedy’s vision to connect people across the Western hemisphere in meaningful and productive ways.