27 julho 2022

Testemunho da Filipa - Suécia (Rapatac)

Hi everyone!   My name is Filipa, I´m 25 years old and last year I applied for volunteering programs on European Solidarity Corps (ESC). After much research, I was accepted at Rapatac Gävle, in Sweden, at this time, I have been already volunteering for 10 months, only missing 2 months for this program to end. I am surely going to miss it! I came to Sweden on September 2nd of 2021 and I will finish on August 31st  2022, a one-year journey.

I knew I wanted to volunteer with children because I am a kindergarten teacher. So, it would allow me to grow, not only personally but also as a professional. Rapatac Activity Center Gävle is an after-school center that develops work mainly with children from 7 to 18 years old. Rapatac strives to give children and young people a meaningful free time where we offer different cultural and educational activities. Children and adolescents can develop their own interests by participating in many stimulating and creative activities like dance, media, theatre, music, language, technology and sports. 

In the educational area it is extremely important that all children who come to the center have the opportunity to get the help they need with their schoolwork so that they can succeed at school and in future studies. My role at Rapatac can be diverse but focuses mainly on being responsible for some activities like Crafting, Yoga, Pysseltimmen and Hemkunskap. These activities are always chosen by the volunteers and we must plan them and put them in practice with a big dose of creativity. Apart from that, I help children with their homework and reading. I also participate at some events and projects. With Crafting, for example, I participated with my group for a Democracy Project. Overall, I help with the good functioning of the center.

At Rapatac we are 7 volunteers, 3 in Gävle and 4 in Sandvinken (a small city close by). We are from all over the world, Portugal, Russia, Germany and Turkey. We made many trips together and we always try to go through new experiences together.  I am grateful that I was able to share this journey with all of them and I can say that I made friendships for life!

About living in Sweden… It is definitely more wonderful than I expected, especially the nature. Sweden it's a big country and I had the opportunity to visit some parts of it. From all of my experiences these were the ones that marked me the most: I saw the northern lights; I experienced the deep winter with lots of snow; I danced to the traditional Midsommar – The summer Solstice – and made flower crowns; I went to Christmas markets in Stockholm; I saw the big fires on Valborg day at Uppsala (to welcome spring); I saw the Royal Family on the National day in Stockholm; I did fika many times; I saw moose in their natural habitat; and I met many nice and wonderful people.

The weather difference is a big deal, compared to Portugal and in Sweden they have a saying: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”. So, you don’t stop from going outside just because it's raining or snowing. You just have to put on some more clothes!

One last thing that you have to appreciate in Sweden is the Fika! Fika for Swedish people means having a break and appreciating a good cup of coffee and a kanelbulle (cinnamon roll) or a nice piece of pastry. It is a time for family or friends to get together and socialise while eating. Fika is life for a Swede, Fika can almost not be explained, it has to be experienced the Swedish way. 

I can say that taking a volunteering year really can change your life, because it changed mine. I grew so much as a person and I feel that now I look at the world with different eyes. You go to a different country, learn another language, meet new people, adapt to the culture and overcome many challenges (good or bad). I can say that it is not a paradise to volunteer, that every day everything will be amazing, but it is part of life and you learn from it.

Thank you ESC and Associação Spin,


21 julho 2022

O testemunho No. 1 da Beyza (Spin)


Hello Everyone
My name is Beyza. I am from Turkey and I am 24 years old. I am really excited about living and being a volunteer at Spin because It's my first time in Portugal and also will be the longest time being away from home. It wasn't easy to find volunteering especially if you need a visa for all the EU countries ☺ I´ve been looking for an ESC for 7 months and luckily I met with Spin by my friend Gjorgi who had participated in a project in May with Spin. It's A pleasure for me to be here.
Before I came here everybody was saying that you´ll love Lisbon because It's very similar to Istanbul. Well IT IS! I already felt like here is like my home. There is something that makes this city magical but I can't explain it yet ☺ When I arrived in Lisbon ,Lisa and Ertugrul picked me up from the airport which made me so happy. They are also my flatmates.
About the house, I mean I really liked it. When you go inside from the apartment you can easily say that the house is very Portuguese – colorful and tiled walls, wooden stairs – and also the volunteers were very kind and nice to me. They showed and explained everything about the house,

The 2nd day in Lisbon, Amr helped me to get a SIM Card and after that I did a small tour in the city. The Portuguese people were really helpful to me about the location of some places while discovering the city, even though some of them didn't know English. The first word I learned in Portuguese was ‘SAIDA´ If you don´t understand anything just follow ´Saida´.

I actually arrived in Lisbon on the 15th of July and I met with the Spin team on the 19th of July. They were so nice and they arranged a welcome day for me. I felt so happy. One of the new volunteers Monika made us lunch <3 I am hoping the bond between me and the Spin team will be stronger than now. I just can’t wait to spend my days here. I am sure I will have more things to tell for the next testimony. Thanks.

o Testemunho final da Marina (Viver Telheiras)

hello everyone,

This is my final testimony about my volunteering. This past 9 months have been a life experience that I wanted so much to have, I enjoyed myself so much, I learned how to manage a lot of free time, which I never had to do and it has been a life changing learning and also I had the privilege of having an extended and joyful social life.

In my experience here I organized the Festival Telheiras, which you can see in the photo above. It has been so nice to work with the community and organize the festival with the beautiful team of Viver Telheiras. People have been caring.

In my time here I also had time to do other volunteering, so I volunteered in a social and political center called Sirigaita, which has brought me so many friends and learnings outside my volunteering.

Also, I volunteered in a boat learning and helping them to sail in Algarve with a wonderful crew, I also enjoyed Santos so much, the popular party of the whole city self-organized by the neighborhood. And I had time to receive and travel with lots of my friends from Barcelona and from here. This past month has been more difficult because I had to say goodbye to some of my best friends here, but that's also the nice part of making good friends.

O testemunho final da Annamaria (Spin)

My life in Portugal has ended. I was there over 8 months and it was one of the most eye opening and challenging things I had to do in my life. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and for the people's life put on my road. 

I was a volunteer in an organization called SPIN. My task was collecting signatures for declarations but I did other things too. Like help with different projects, cooked meals for welcome days, just helped around the office. I loved working in SPIN because every week was different. Sometimes we just did things in the office,

 other week in the hostel and I had the opportunity to go to schools just to talk about my work and life in Portugal and thanks to that I got more courage to speak in front of a crowd, Spin gave me the opportunity to come outside of my comfort zone and the people that i worked with was amazing, really friendly, caring  and always ready to help if I had any problems.

In the 8 months when I was there were of course some challenges like living in a big city cause I never had been in such a big city and I really missed nature many times but then I just traveled a little bit further and hike in Monsanto or Sintra.

I had to face living with 6 other people and sharing a room and everyone was from a different country so there were problems but I lived with amazing people so when we had problems we managed to solve them quickly, In the beginning it was hard being away from my friends and I felt alone but over time I met new and unforgettable people who were always there for me and who I could count on. Especially the people I lived with, they were my family and I couldn't  ask for a better family then they were.

I had time to travel across Portugal and see some breathtaking places. The most breathtaking place I had been to was Sintra and I’ll miss that city a lot but I'm grateful that I went there to see nature. I fell in love with the country overall cause every place is like a fairytale. I’ve been to Algarve, Porto, Nazare and a lot of more wonderful places. I love nature and that’s why my favorite place is Sintra with its amazing nature, castles, and palaces. Every time I went there it was like my first time, there's always some new place to discover.

Even when I didn't travel, Lisbon had to offer beautiful and interesting places to visit with my dear other volunteers all the time like walks in a park or evenings in a miradoru. Even if we just had a picnic in some park it was amazing. It's good to be back in Estonia but I really miss Lisbon and all of my amazing people there, thank you for everything and someday I'll be back to Lisbon and see my beautiful people, even if they are not in Lisbon we will meet again maybe in a different country and I can't wait what life brings me. 

12 julho 2022

O testemunho No.1 da Monika (Spin)



I am here today to share with you my first impressions of being in Portugal, but before I do that, I would like to shortly introduce myself. My name is Monika, I am 24 years old, and I come from the city Wroclaw in Poland. I am an animal and human rights activist, art appreciator, with a special passion for interior design.

Last year I was entering a new chapter in life, right after graduating my master’s in education, beginning my very first educator job in a children and youth daycare. I was facing a lot of challenges, but at the same time having the fulfilment from working with the most amazing staff, and causing impact on young people with special needs. It was a safe space for me, especially living in my hometown, near my family and friends. At the same time, I felt the need to start in a new place, since moving abroad was something that I wanted to do for a while. I began searching and I found the SPIN Association, all thanks to the European Solidarity Corps website. My current daycare was working beside an association as well, therefore I felt like this experience might be similar to what I am doing now, but with a fresh feel, far away from my home. 

 Now it has been almost two weeks that I am in Portugal, and I must say that it has been quite an adventure. It has all started in Nazaré, from which I will be unfortunately moving this weekend. The view of the ocean, beautiful architecture, and overall calmness had made me appreciate my decision to come here. I live one minute away from the beach, which makes it easy to enjoy the sun and the breeze of the water. 

On the 4th of July I had made my first trip to visit Lisbon. Shortly after I realised how different it is from Nazaré, more vibrant and lively, therefore similar to my hometown. A day later I arrived to the SPIN office. I got to have a tour of the Bairro Padre Cruz neighbourhood, which has an artistic and alternative feeling to it. I especially enjoyed the colourful murals on the buildings and incredible city view. I am looking forward to getting inspired by learning more about this area! I also had a lunch with the staff and volunteers, which gave me an opportunity to learn more about them before we start working together. I am very excited about my journey which is only about to begin, at the same time hoping to get the most out of my time here. 

29 junho 2022

O testemunho No. 2 do Joan (SPEA)


Hello everyone 

The months go by and new people and new experiences appear. There are also others to which I must say goodbye, or until the next one, but which I will remember for a long time. Having already spent half of my volunteering in Portugal, I have become accustomed to Faro and its people, as well as to the pace of life in the Algarve, very different from that of Barcelona.

In our project, the LIFE Ilhas Barreira, we continue working for the conservation of seabirds and the Ria Formosa. Tasks in the spring are different to those in the winter, mainly because the seagull colony has already formed on Barreta Island, where thousands of birds are breeding, to which we watch and monitor closely. The truth is that it is quite spectacular to see how this season fills the islands that seemed so empty in winter with life.
In addition to the work related to my project, I have also had the opportunity to participate in other small actions by my own, and I have been able to continue training and learning in my field, the biology of conservation. In addition, I was able to visit the Berlengas Islands, which I had heard so much about, and I was able to work with species I had only seen in the field guides. I look forward to the months I have left here and the things I have left to experience, though with some sadness to see the end approaching.

26 junho 2022

O testemunho No. 2 da Amr (SPIN)

Olá a todos

It is my second attempt to describe my experience here in Portugal, it's been seven months for me as a volunteer at Spin Association, my hosting and coordinating organization, 7 months that passed in the blink of an eye, I came as a stranger and gradually grew a big family, and as I come closer to the end of the project the family grows bigger and stronger.

My role at spin is about the overall organization and logistical practicalities and I'm part of that team, my tasks can be diverse like receiving and posting testimonies of volunteers whose coordinating organization is Spin, as well as collecting, verifying and handling travel documents of volunteers in order for them to be reimbursed, one of the tasks that I occasionally do is going to schools and talking to youngsters, it can also be cooking, cleaning and tidying up at the office, and so the tasks at Spin office aren't as complicated as I thought, it was rather simple and straightforward even though it would be a little challenging, at some point there's period of time when we're up to the neck in work and that's usually associated with projects and youth exchanges on which occasions we host up to 30 participants from different countries that we would feel it's a pinnacle achievement of sorts by the time it finishes, but this is also very rewarding and interesting in some sense because it always involves different languages, different backgrounds and experiences, different forms of cultures that are co-existing in the same community, and we as volunteers and coordinators have the responsibility of maintaining order in The hostel and in the office, which means that part of the team is focused on cleaning, buying food and other necessities, cooking and setting tables, while the other team is focused on the doing the activities and the dynamics, the goals and the main ideas of the project.

On the 4th of May I Started another experience; the on-arrival training that I had in Visue for 6 days, it was such an extraordinarily pleasant experience where I learned, and also had a lot of fun with a nice group of volunteers and all the emotions, thoughts, activities and cultural visits we had and little things that individuals had to offered each other from their own culture and also from the main goals and objectives of their own association that was dissimilar from others but also similar in some sense because we all had different projects under the same volunteering umbrella, I learned a lot from the activities that highlighted how it is to be a volunteer at European solidarity corps, what would we gain being volunteers and also about the rights and the responsibilities of volunteers. the last day was somewhat sad that this remarkable week was over, but that was also something positive for it meant that we lived it to the fullest.

 Life in Portugal for me has been so enriching so far, but it seems to me that even though I live in Portugal, I live in multinational/ European community which is part of the reason why I didn't do my best at learning Portuguese up to this point, but it is true that it is so enriching, there is a lot of things you can do out there, I'm grateful for having the chance to live and integrate into the Portuguese culture, Portuguese life style, the traditional musical style of Portuguese songs that I usually listen to in different occasions, the streets and the different transportation including the Tram which is one of the cultural icons of Portugal, but of course I'm also grateful for the wonderful Portuguese people that I work with, I learned a lot being here and it's another feeling to manifest in my own behavior some of the elements of another culture. it was only until recently that I knew about a couple of festivals which also brought me closer to the ambience of living Portugal such as carnival, Festas de Santo António, and Festa de São João and others.

What I enjoyed in Portugal, It's the little things, the things we repeat every day, things that people tend to think of as mundane and trivial, but it simplifies something bigger, it's the accumulation of little small talks, little moments of laughter with friends, it's when some friends look for some sense of humor, the moment we were being nice to one another, the moments I went to the park or Miradoures or beaches or had dinner or lunch with my flatmates and people whom I cherish, it's the moments I helped or was helped by someone, all these little moments across a period of time is all that makes us miss these days by the time it all comes to an end. it's all been so appealing to me in some sense, it was only until recently that I could experience lots of changes in the weather just during one day. sunny, cloudy, rainy, windy, hot, or cold, which is a little crazy because this is something that only happens over the course of several days in my country.

There's a Portuguese saying I like that goes “
Há males que vêm para o bem”, which is like “every cloud has a silver lining“. of course, there's always been many unpleasant moments and tribulations along the way, and of course, I think it is a silly naïve claim as far as I'm concerned to say that everything was perfect for me and I was all happy all the time, it's more likely that every one of us encounters appalling moments in a way or another, but I also consider them as blessings because they are a way in which I learn, there's unveiling that happens and good knowledge comes out of undesirable moments, and so, it's always associated with some good and I try to keep myself oriented in that direction.

até próxima