20 fevereiro 2024

O testemunho final da Hanna (Spin)


We are at the end of our journey my friend, we did amazing things;
We saw so much;
We made those connections that actually matter in our lives;
Adventure has come to an end, and I'm ready to move on to the next chapter of my life. 
This sounds like a goodbye, and unfortunately this time, it is. I still have time to spend with you, let me tell you about my last months, what I did and what I know.

My last months in Portugal have been cold, rainy, as even the office got slower, as a bear in hibernation, what saved us from this sleepy mood? Spin gave us volunteers a chance to do something new, to change up our routines, a training course called “Active hope”. How can I describe the training course to you? You gather with all your co-volunteers and the whole day you can speak from your heart, get in touch with your emotions and see how you can change up your thinking patterns, in this world full of negativity and problems. Through a month of interactive sessions, learning new techniques, viewing the world through the glasses of gratitude, they gave us tools to build the best version of ourselves. It brought us, volunteers, closer to each other and made us realize how different or even how similar our views of the world are.

Even the strongest soldiers and hard-workers need a break, so did I. Madeira was magical, with its warm weather and stunning landscapes. It was already November, and I could walk around in shorts and swim in warm ocean waters - was it a dream or a reality? 

Seeing the mountains of Pico do Arieiro, growing an obsession with geckos and lizards and swimming in natural pools filled me with happiness and energy. I knew that these moments would sustain me in the challenges that lay ahead. 

It was my first Christmas without snow, I felt immense homesickness, but once the sunlight in the middle of December hit me I thought, okay, I could get used to this. I still believe that Christmas without snow is not really authentic, but spending it with people you love and care about is all that matters.

It was also my first time coordinating an event. With the help of my co-volunteers and staff, we made an event to promote sustainability, recycling, reusing and building connections. It was time for Swap Market! It was as easy as it sounded, bring stuff, swap for something new… well new for you. As my departure came closer and closer, I found a problem - I have too much stuff, and instead of just throwing it away or giving it to charity, I thought why not make it into something different and host an event.
Since the first swap market was successful, we also gave a chance for neighborhood kids to take part of it. So we implemented it at Bola p´re frente. And needless to say, it brought happiness and excitement to children and teenagers (And I got the chance to give some of my heavy baggage away).

I still have two weeks of my volunteering, And I still feel like I haven't seen everything, so As I am speaking to you my dear reader, I am preparing for Porto, seeing Lisbon's breathtaking beaches one last time, swimming in the salty ocean waters and spending time with my closest friends. All I have to add is to thank you for being with me during this crazy journey, and I will always carry you in my heart Lisbon.
Hanna is out.

14 fevereiro 2024

O testemunho No. 1 do Rodrigo (SPEA)


2 months and a half have already passed since I arrived. We all know that time pass fast but being involved in ESC with Spin, working in Spea, and living in Lisbon makes time literally fly away.

When I applied for the program I was not expecting to be selected, actually I was living a chill life at my hometown and I could continue living that mood forever but, inside of me I knew I needed a change, and the opportunity arrived.

I am sure it is one of the best decisions in my life. Every day is an adventure, a new conversation, something to learn, new places to explore in Lisbon. Sharing time with people all around Europe, with Portuguese people in my job, learning their language and all the things the organization has to teach me about wildlife conservation and environmental education... It is just being amazing... Show must go on! 

O testemunho No.1 do Andrea (SPEM)

Ciao! I am Andrea and I come from Italy.

I joined the ESCs to have the chance to travel and get in touch with people, cultures and realities that are new to me. In particular, I thought of coming here to Lisbon because I thought the culture, its calmness and climate were perfect for me and I wasn't wrong. 

I am really grateful to be able to confront myself every day with this reality that changes me a little and makes me reflect.Today after 3 months I feel almost at home, and every day there is a new discovery that changes my point of view. Reality is just a perspective.

23 janeiro 2024

O Testemunho final do André (Spin)


Olá a todos

Unbelievable... I have reached the end of my project. It is difficult for me to summarize the past  nine months, as it feels like I have only just arrived. Too much has happened, and the significance  of some episodes remains food for thought still to be dealt with. This adventure has been like a  rollercoaster ride - but fortunately most of it leaving a positive impression. Furthermore, once again it was proof that time simply flies by, especially when you enjoy every day and don't have  to think about tomorrow. Unique - but far from reality. I am happy to share with you some thoughts  and experiences from this marvelous trip. Even though the summer days are over for now, the sun is still shining and is already making me nostalgic.

Expectations, goals, reality
I came to Lisbon with great expectations, expectations for myself and of the project but  experience shows that things never go as planned or as desired. Looking back, however, I am  happy with how everything turned out. I overcame the biggest hurdle as soon as I arrived - taking  part in a voluntary service program. It was the last chance for me to realize something like this. Part of getting older… Nevertheless, even if expectations and goals did not match reality in the end, this time remains  unforgettable. Nobody can take what I experienced away from me, that is all that matters.

The organization Spin was certainly the ideal choice for me personally to complete my European  Solidarity Corps. On the one hand, I had the opportunity to become involved in various functions  for the community, do something good and gain unique experiences. On the other hand, as a  volunteer I not only had a lot of freedom at work - I also had enough free time, which I didn't mind  at all, and I had enough time to discover Lisbon, Portugal, as well as myself . Working on various projects, workshops and events gave me great pleasure and showed me  once again how much I enjoy working with people. I was able to do locally and internationally  connections. There were challenges from time to time, but I was able to overcome them. The  many hours I spent in the kitchen of the hostel should certainly not be forgotten. This undoubtedly  confirmed my qualities as a househusband. Greetings go out to Daniela.

Lisbon / Portugal
As already mentioned, I also spent a lot of my time enjoying life. I was able to explore charming  Lisbon and the region travel around Portugal and become acquainted with and love the culture,  nature, country and people. City life in Lisbon was more pleasant than I could have ever  imagined. The city is simply unique and is now one of the best in the world for me personally. It has something for everyone. Provided, of course, that you know where to look. I now feel like a  local and very confident giving visitors a tour of the city. You can't describe life in Lisbon, you  have to experience it by yourself. Just as the Açores, the Algarve, the Lisboa region, Norte,  East,...  and many more that I have been able to visit are magical! The island of Madeira is still on my to- do list, but for me it is a “must” which I will definitely fulfill. 

Portugal has cast a spell over me, even if everything works a little differently here than in  Liechtenstein. It is a positive aspect and impressive to see that the world keeps turning even  when everything seems not to be perfect and you often have to adapt to the circumstances. The  relaxed attitude of the southerners is both nerve-wracking and fascinating. 

The motivation to learn Portuguese was strong at the beginning. After nine months, however, I  must admit that I have not reached the language level I had hoped for. I should probably have  invested more time in learning the language. The multicultural environment obviously did not help  in this regard. On the other hand, I was able to improve my English and learn a few chunks of  various European languages, including Italian, Spanish, Polish or Turkish. 

In the end, the basics are there in Portuguese and a few more or less useful words remain. Visits  to the supermarket or a café now usually run smoothly and without language barriers, even if the odd slip-up still occurs.

Living in Lisbon - and traveling in Portugal - does not necessarily require knowledge of the local  language, although you obviously feel more at home and are treated more openly when you speak  the language. Who knows, maybe I will find the motivation again one day.

In conclusion
This whole experience has helped me to further mature as a person. I will never regret doing this  ESC program. The decision to come to Lisbon was the right one. All the good and not so good  moments were necessary to make it unforgettable. 
Living together with people from different  countries, cultures and age groups can be very difficult and was one of the biggest challenges for  me, but for all that you learn to accept everyone for who they are. Nobody is perfect - and an acceptance and respect are basic prerequisites for healthy coexistence, not only within your own  four walls - but also elsewhere on the streets of this wonderful world. Unfortunately, we humans  often tend to forget this. 

I was able to learn a lot about myself, meet unique people and travel to places that are like that  beautiful that you can hardly imagine them. I experienced moments that I will never forget:  alone or in company, at work or in my free time. It was often the minor moments that seemed  insignificant, but in retrospect have an incredible effect. Thinking back to this time, I will remain in  Lisbon for a while to process what I have experienced and get used to normal everyday life again. An uncertain future lies ahead of me, but I have learned to love this uncertainty. Until I do further  decisions, I am enjoying life in Lisbon with the wonderful people I can call my friends here.

Finally, BIG THANKS to myself for having the courage to leave my comfort zone voluntary service.To temporarily move to a foreign country and get to know myself all over again. Even bigger thanks to all the people who were part of my experience, a special part of this wonderful journey. No matter how big or small, you have a place in my heart. In the end, I remain with great gratitude and appreciation for what I was able to experience and for what I have. A happy and healthy life - something certainly not to be taken for granted.

Ate breve!

André (Gausi)