Dartmouth on track to gain new sister city in Portugal’s Algarve

Oct 18, 2019

When Dartmouth Select Board member Shawn McDonald went on vacation to Portugal two weeks ago, he didn’t just go on vacation.

McDonald spent some of his time in the rocky southern Algarve region making connections with government workers and administrators in order to set up a sister city agreement between Dartmouth and the area.

During the ten days he was there, he met with the president and the vice president of the county, introducing them to the town of Dartmouth in a video produced by the town’s community TV channel, DCTV.

“We took some previous video and cut it up and added some things to it,” he said over the phone. “It was received very well. The president of the county said he’s very much interested in doing a sister cities agreement.”

It was an idea he’d been harboring since a 2017 meeting held at another of Dartmouth’s sister cities, Lagoa in the Azores.

“We met with a delegation from the Algarve back in 2017 when we went to the convite in Lagoa in the Azores,” McDonald noted, adding that he’s been in talks with administrators from the region for quite some time.

The largest town in the Algarve region is also called Lagoa, so if the plans come through, Dartmouth would be twinned with both Lagoa-Azores and Lagoa-Algarve.

It would be Dartmouth’s first sister city in mainland continental Europe.

But what exactly is a sister city arrangement?

“The agreement would basically entail educational, cultural, and social exchanges, and also governmental exchanges,” McDonald explained. “And promote tourism between both areas.”

He noted that he wants to get UMass Dartmouth involved as well, as there could be plenty of opportunities for college student exchanges.

But McDonald said that first he would like to send the high school jazz band over for the region’s annual jazz festival. 

“The scenery for the festival is absolutely fantastic and I think that would be a nice start, a nice student exchange,” he said. “Something a little different.”

Dartmouth’s sister city delegation committee is currently waiting for protocol language to be sent over from Lagoa-Algarve. 

Once approved, the agreement would be signed by officials from both towns in each location.

McDonald said that the president of Lagoa-Algarve Luís António Alves da Encarnação is planning a visit to Dartmouth in March or April to sign the protocols, with a return visit by McDonald to sign on their end possibly next fall.

“This is the easy part,” McDonald said. “The next part is basically getting them involved and making arrangements for exchanges and different things.”

The county of Lagoa in the Algarve includes the civil parishes of Lagoa e Carvoeiro, Ferragudo, Estômbar e Parchal, and Porches.