15 janeiro 2019

O testemunho da Nerea

Há 7 meses abandonei a minha casa rumbo a Lisboa e há 7 meses estou a crescer como pessoa e como profissional no meu EVS. E muitas coisas acontecieram durante todos esses meses. 
O meu EVS na Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (SPEA) é uma das melhores experiências da minha vida. Estou a trabalhar no que eu mais gosto, com um grupo de pessoas incredível e disfrutando todos os dias. Além disso, graças ao trabalho de campo viajo o país de norte a sul, de Miranda do Douro a Sagres, conhecendo Portugal e as suas regiões e tradições. 

No mes de outubro aconteceu umo dos momentos mais importantes no EVS: o On Arrival Training. Caminho a Gerês, lugar onde decorreu o meu On Arrival Training, não tinha muita vontad de estar ali. Eu sou timida, e no momento de conhecer pessoas novas tenho medo e inseguridades, mas no decorrer dos dias em Gerês tudo ese pensamento mudou e foram uns dos dias mais fixes em tudo o meu EVS. Apesar de não dominhar o inglês, conheci montes de pessoas de diferentes nacionalidades (Espanha, Turquia, Austria, Poland, etc), que são agora amigas. Ficar 6 dias no meio da montanha com pessoas diferentes e interesantes foi um dos aprendizajes mais boms de estos meses.

No mes de novembro, aproveitando um fim de semana, visitei Porto com algumas amigas do escritório. Apesar do frio gostei immenso da cidade e comí o prato estrela dali, a francesinha. ADOREI. Foi também o momento ótimo para me reencontrar com muitas das pessoas que conheci no EVS e disfrutar um bocado mais uns dos outos.

Também estou desfrutando de Lisboa, dos sitios mágicos que há nesta bonita cidade e das pessoas que tive sorte a conhecer durante este tempo.

Agora começa o ano com bons propósitos e ainda tenho 5 meses por delante que vão ser iguais ou melhores aos 7 meses anteriores. 

O testemunho do Fran

The people over at Spin asked me to write a blog post to “to share my personal experience with others, as this might help them be aware of the program and get involved”. So I was thinking about what to write about to make you, the reader, involved in an EVS. There were so many topics that came into my mind; I could write about my personal experience, I could write about what EVS consists of, I could describe Lisbon and living in Lisbon, volunteer life, what it feels to leave your hometown for a new place abroad or I could even have the audacity to tell you what to do with your life; do this or do that, how dare you not do this or how dare you not do that! But I will not write about these things. I feel other volunteers have written about all these in a manner and fashion (and enthusiasm) I could not dream of matching. There isn’t much of a point in adding one more to the tens of similar posts in this blog. Scroll down (or up) if reading about the aforementioned topics is what you seek.

But, I have to write about something, therefore I would like to give you a small piece of advice. I strongly recommend you, volunteer in potency, to do your research before joining an EVS. Before engaging in a project like an EVS, which usually implies having to move far away from your house for at least 3 months and up to a whole year, try to understand what becoming a volunteer implies. Get a clear understanding of conditions, tasks, responsibilities and expectations (both yours and from the people you’ll be working with). Go through any information available about the project you are applying for and talk to the people working there to inquire about any doubt you may have. If there were any older volunteers contact them to get a clearer image of the whole picture. Doing and EVS can be a good decision, but shouldn’t be a lighthearted one. 

I might have made it look a wee bit grim, didn’t I? But dread not. I did not mean to scare anybody. In fact, I hope the opposite! EVS is (or at least, can be) such a wonderful experience in one’s lifetime that it is a pity when people do one without really knowing what they were up for and end up having a subpar experience because of this. 
The bottom line is; EVS can be a great option but get to know where you getting in before doing one. If you are interested in doing one, do your research. If you feel the whole thing fits you and what you want to do, go for it! 
Anyway, here goes the third picture.

04 janeiro 2019

Why not?

Do me a favor, do an EVS. Leave your hometown, your family and your friends and go abroad. And if I can give you a suggestion, move to Lisbon. One of the best things about being part of the European Union, is having the possibility to go on Erasmus. EVS, ESC, Erasmus+, it doesn’t matter the name. What matters is that everyone should take advantage of it, and experience living in another country, at least once in life. Why? Because life is so short and the world is so big, and you have already spent 25 years living in the same place. Aren’t you tired? Don’t you feel it’s time to really live the world? Going on holiday somewhere is not enough. To get to know another culture, you have to live it. Probably you will not manage to get to know each and every culture on Earth, but why not giving it a chance? What do you have to lose? Nothing. What do you have to win? Everything.

Just go to the EVS database (I know you have already saved it in your bookmarks), have a look at all the projects, think about which countries you would like more (don’t be just the average Italian… people can also survive in countries where it’s not always sunny), choose some projects that would be right for you, and apply. It’s so damn simple.

I will not tell you to go to Portugal because it’s beautiful: you already know. I tell you to move to Lisbon because the language sounds like Russian and at the beginning you will not understand a word. I tell you to move to Lisbon because you don’t like to eat fish and they will just try to offer you bacalhau in every possible way. I tell you to move to Lisbon because climbing up and down in the streets of the city centre will make you miss riding your bike so much. What I mean is, go out your comfort zone, so that you can really say “with every broken bones, I swear I lived”.

And once you are there, just take advantage of every single moment. Meet the local people, talk to them, fake your best italo-spanish-portuguese accent, learn why they laugh when you try to say “pão”, eat queijo & fiambre in almost everything, ask for a menu “pequeno-almoço” at Padaria Portuguesa at 4h in the afternoon, teach portuguese people that spaghetti is not a side dish, decide if you like more Sagres or Super Bock, listen all the time to Brazilian Funky and never to Fado, climb 75 steps to reach your house, learn by heart that “este comboio não para em Arroios”, go to the night bakery almost every night even if you are not hungry, have a cafezinho while you wait for the 747, go to IKEA to work when you have tele-trabalho, look everyday for Ryanair offers to go to Azores (and Madeira, and Spain, and France, and Cabo Verde…), pretend you’re still a student and ask for discount on museums tickets, buy thousands of black-and-white tote bags and take pictures of graffiti for your Instagram, visit abandoned hotels and steal broken azulejos. In every situation, just ask yourself one question, “why not?”.

Again, life is so short, and you only get one. What are you waiting for?

Letter to my past self,

02 janeiro 2019

O testemunho da Romea...10 meses depois


It has been 10 months since I first arrived to Lisbon, and since then a lot has changed…

Firstly Spin's volunteers since I first arrived already left and new ones came. And each of them brought something special to Spin and to the atmosphere in the office. We had many projects during all this time from which we learned a lot but mostly we had fun with all the participants. In two of the projects Live it Lisbon! i had my first cooking workshop witch was so much fun, and all the participants were amazing and it was very nice to see people from all over the world making Croatian traditional dishes. During summer there was a lot going on in Spin, some of the days were hectic but with good communication among volunteers we managed to make everything happened. I had the opportunity to make videos with volunteers of other organizations to talk about their EVS experience, and it was very fun and interesting to see what they do, also was fun making the videos and learning how to edit. Rewording part was that my videos were featured in Feira da Luz in Carnide. Wintertime in Spin is a bit calmer but we still do have work to do. We had a project with 5 youngsters from France who were here for a month doing internship, and I had my first mentoring experience. They were all so hardworking and eager to learn English and Portuguese, since some of them did not know any foreign language. My mentee was amazing with her language skills, positive attitude and work abilities, she even got a job offer for the next year. All in all it was a really good experience of being a mentor. I still have some plans to achieve before my EVS finishes. 

During all my free time in past 10 months especially during summer, I have travelled a lot trough Portugal and Spain. I visited north, middle and south of Portugal plus Azores. A few years ago I lived on Madeira so I know a lot about all the places in Portugal now. All of the travels were different jet so amazing and special. I cannot choose one that was the best because all the parts have something to see and experience, well maybe I enjoyed the most Azores, because I like islands especially because they look like a Jurassic Park jungle truly amazing and calm, and a good “escape” from the urban jungle. 
I have meet a lot of amazing and special people during all this time, but also a lot volunteers had finished their EVS and returned to their country, but by now I get used to people leaving all the time and new ones coming. However, I am glad that the ones that I am the closest with also decided to stay in Lisbon after EVS like me. Before I needed a guide trough Lisbon streets but by now I am the guide to all the new people who come but also to my friends and my family when they visit. I truly fell in love in this city and all of its beauty. By now I know all the beaches Lisbon has, all the best bars, best restaurants…but there is still so much more to explore and learn…

21 dezembro 2018

O testemunho do Nicolò

5 months of Lisbon dominated by 2 states of being, late and busy, especially in the last 2 months, September was particularly challenging for 2 things:
the Feira da Luz and the On-Arrival Training

The first is a traditional festival in the Freguesia of Carnide lasting one month in which there are folkloristic performance, activities related to the Portuguese culture and concerts with both traditional and modern artists, it was the first experience in which I worked in close contact with the staff of Junta de Freguesia de Carnide, I dealt with the reception of the artists, loading and unloading instrumentation and sometimes even taking some pictures. I was very excited to participate, especially because it would have been an excellent opportunity to meet new artists and discover new music, it was very fun but also very tiring, especially on days when there were many activities to keep under control ( Sundays in particular). 
Every weekend for the entire duration of September there I spent working at the Feira except for the week from the 16th to the 22nd, where I was in Gêres for the On-Arrival training with other EVS volunteers currently in Portugal.

 This experience was really refreshing, until then I had not traveled a lot in Portugal yet, so it was an opportunity to get out of Lisbon and be in touch with the nature (The Pousada da Juventude where the training took place was in the middle of Gêres natural park), especially at that time, between the feira and work in the library, I was really tired. 

Also knowing the other volunteers was very interesting and inspiring, a lot of interesting people from many different countries (from India to Thailand to Liechtenstein) with whom we have formed a close-knit group very quickly, the days have been stimulating and varied, I really appreciated the non formal approach and the arguments treaties (perception of other cultures, stereotypes, team building, problem solving) that often led to discussions and debates. In particular, an activity that we have done in the last days and that I appreciated a lot was the one on the workshops: Some volunteers had to propose and organize a 30 minute workshop based on their knowledge and what they could bring to the group, the others could then choose what take part. The workshops were very varied (from traditional dances to cooking to therapy methods on boredom) and they gave me a lot of creative ideas.

The remaining part of September was spent between the last visits to the beach before winter and the final part of Feira da Luz.

October has been less stressful but still full of stuff to do, i returned full time in the library and as I mentioned in the last post, I started giving computer lessons that took place 3 times a week throughout month, at the beginning the subscriptions were not many but within a week I had 5 students! It was not easy, some people did not even know what a computer was, I tried different approaches to teaching trying to find the most suitable and I admit that I was amazed by the improvements achieved by everyone in just 2 weeks. Unfortunately, many people discovered about this training too late and so they could not take part but since the answer was so positive, i'm thinking of re-proposing something similar in the new year. In addition to the EVS I tried to carry out as many personal projects as possible, I continued to compose since I arrived in Lisbon and I managed to release 2 EP of original music and I'm now working on other music to be released for the end of this year I continued to attend the jam sessions in the city, trying to be part of the scene as much as I could, always meeting new musicians, with some of these we decided to form a  I've never been a "traveler" but after the on-arrival I stayed in touch with the other volunteers and I took the opportunity to move a little from Lisbon to see other parts of Portugal and also host people who wanted to come to visit Lisbon.
In particular, one of the projects that most struck was the one in which Costance participated, a French girl, located in the north of Portugal in a small village called Uva in the district of Bragança.

The situation was similar to that in the On Arrival period, I really needed to get out of the city and go to a place more in contact with nature and spend a weekend there was very relaxing and interesting I'm roughly half of my experience here in Portugal, for the future I have other projects that I hope will be able to complete (more in the video area) that I would like to combine with music
We'll see

10 dezembro 2018

Seminário “Don’t ESC From Game”, Espanha

"Don ESC from game" foi um seminário de intercâmbio de boas práticas que decorreu em Errenteria dos dias 7 a 14 de Setembro de 2018. Durante estes dias foram trabalhadas muitas competências e diversas metodologias inovadoras no campo da educação não formal. Durante este período foram também partilhadas, muitas experiências e bastante conhecimento entre os participantes deste seminário.

Como Educador Social recém-licenciado, estive (re)enquadrado com uma panóplia de ferramentas, que podem prestar um apoio de carácter pedagógico, cultural, social e recreativo a indivíduos, grupos e comunidades abrangidos por equipamentos sociais, com vista à melhoria das condições de vida, através de uma ferramenta educacional para todos os tipos de ambientes, idades e contextos diferentes. A metodologia usada neste projeto foi à gamificação, esta é uma forma inovadora de criar um jogo e ao mesmo tempo criar aprendizagens ao público alvo que vai participar no mesmo. Uma sala cheia de grandes desafios onde o objetivo é sair da mesma sem que o tempo termine e onde um grupo de pessoas tem que resolver os enigmas e desafios. Destaco que na minha área de formação, a área social, esta é uma forma muito dinâmica de trabalhar conteúdos através da educação não formal e durante este projeto pude desenvolver estas competências que permitirão que no futuro eu consiga criar com mais criatividade atividades socioeducativas de índole cultural, educativa e recreativa na ocupação de tempos livres de crianças, jovens e pessoas idosas.

O impacto que este seminário teve em mim foi que me permitiu alcançar competências, para criar o meu próprio projeto de "sala de fuga educacional". Assim, acredito que estes projetos serviam para que nos jovens, tenhamos um crescimento exponencial pessoal e profissional. A verdade é que o futuro da Europa passa pelo fortalecimento da cooperação entre os jovens europeus, pelos laços de ligação entre culturas bem como por um aumento do investimento na educação e a preparação dos cidadãos mais novos para o ingresso no mercado de trabalho.

Manuel Barbosa

"Don ESC from game" was an exchange of good practice seminar held in Errenteria, Spain, from September 7 to 14, 2018. During these days many skills and innovative methodologies in the field of non-formal education were worked on and many experiences and knowledge were also shared among the participants of this seminar. 

As a newly-graduated Social Educator, I have been (re)introduced to a range of tools, which can provide pedagogical, cultural, social and recreational support to individuals, groups, and communities with the goal of improving life, through educational tools for all types of environments, ages, and different contexts. The methodology used in this project was gamification, an innovative way to create a game and at the same time create learning for the target audience that will participate in it. A room full of great challenges where the goal is to get out of it before the time is over, and where a group of people has to solve the puzzles and challenges. I emphasize that in my area of training, the social area is a very dynamic way of working through non-formal education and during this project I developed these skills that in the future will allow me to create more creative socio-educational activities of a cultural, educational and leisure type for children, young people and the elderly.

The impact that this seminar had on me was that it allowed me to achieve skills, to create my own project of "educational escape room". Thus, I believe that these projects serve for young people to grow exponentially on a personal and professional level. The truth is that the future of Europe is in strengthening cooperation between young Europeans, the links between cultures as well as increasing investment in education and the preparation of younger citizens for entry into the labor market.

Manuel Barbosa

19 novembro 2018

O testemunho da Alina

For the first time, when I saw a TV program about Portugal, I was looking at the screen for 2 hours and on that very day I felt in love with that country, particularly the Lisbon: Red Houses, the narrow streets of the streets, emotional, good and very beautiful Portuguese, the locals, enjoyed indulge in Pastel de Nata, Porto wine, Bacalhau, admiring the oldest and the visit card of Portugal of Azulejo, with wonderful warm climate, amazing beautiful beaches, 25th April Bridge through the River Teju, which  became a necessary for me to see it every day.

Each of us has ideal initiatives about a beautiful and unique country or city where you want to live and which is considered to be the most beautiful. Portugal, particularly, Lisbon, is the ideal  city for me, which I intended to visit. And when I turned 29 years old, after being informed  about EVS, and respecting,  sharing the idea of a volunteer program, I decided to find a program in a European country (mainly focused on Spain, Poland and Switzerland), and I was looking for new projects every day. You would ask me why you did not look  a project exactly in Portugal? Each time I sent a motivating letter to a country project, I always imagined that I walked through the narrow streets of Lisbon, feel the smell of river Teju, but I did not think it was possible to find a EVS project in Lisbon, to find the program, where Armenia would be included in the list of countries, that in spite of the distance, they would still choose a participant from Armenia. 

Once again, when I was searching the programs in the Facebook group, I accidentally found myself the EVS program in Lisbon, which was related to the work with children with special needs. That moment was very much like to the situation when a person who has been hungry or thirsty for a long time finally finds food and water, or when a long-awaited person finally meets his object of love :). Without delay, I opened the program. Everything was in line with the nature, conditions, the country, the city. I told myself: "Alina, you know, you  have already worked and still works with children with special needs. You have 8 years of work experience with children with different mental disorders; you dreamed of living in Lisbon, you should go". Inspired by my breath, I look at the list of countries looking for Armenia, where there was no such thing. But my desire to participate in the project was so great, so immediately I saw me in this project in Lisbon that even did not stop me, and without losing time, I wrote my motivation letter for Lisbon project. After sending my coordinates, I was sure that they would accept me, but I was not sure they would be express wiliness to give so much money to the Armenian participant, as in the case of faraway countries, the costs are grown and not all EVS promoters are ready to cover the costs. But how great was my joy and surprise, when I received a nice letter from all the contestants that I had chosen and they are ready to caver all the travel expenses. I'm going to Portugal.

And here I am here, in Lisbon, for 1.5 months, I've been working for 1.5 months  in Externato Flor do Campo , with children with different mental disorders, (Rett Syndrome, Autism, etc). I've been hearing Portuguese for 1.5 months and trying to understand and talk, which is not so easy, but it is necessary,  I have been trying to expose Portugal, Lisbon, culture and traditions, national cuisine for over 1.5 months and more so felt in love with this country and I appreciate this opportunity, which has been granted to me.

On the last day in my country, my friends arranged a goodbye party for me and many of them asked me if I could go out of my comfort zone,  can I share the room with someone else?. I should live with a different countries' and cultures' representatives, change a lot of things in myself, learn a new language, adapt to the new collective and their working methods and approaches and, finally, leave my work, children with whom I have worked for a long time and have achieved some results and managed to communicate with them. I left also my family members and friends. But since I have started to love going out of the comfort zone, I have started to like and have been not afraid of drastic changes, I have started to love developing and moving, learning new languages, getting new impressions and acquaintances, learning new techniques and approaches in professional issues, so moving to another country and working my decision was clear and justified. And now not only I regret, but also every second I enjoy Lisbon and this opportunity, every second I am getting sure, that I have made the right decision.

It was an interesting discovery for me: my workplace, the workshop itself. Almost all my colleagues  speak only Portuguese, which is very good for me to learn language very fast. The children with different special needs are very nice and I have already communicated with them. From the point of view of work, it is a little difficult for me to show and demonstrate my full potential of work and professionalism, which is related to neither   to  not knowing the language, nor knowing the children yet, and nor clear about what I have to do. But every day, I learn something new there, both colleagues and children, and me as well, work every day to be useful for them in my work and to give them something new. Hopefully, I'll success. I already work with children, they already trust me and love me. I think it's a great proof that I have made the right decision and I'm in the right place.

A few days ago, when once again on the way to home from work, I explained to some tourists how to go to their destination, how to be oriented in Lisbon, what to see and where to go in the subway,  and I am already able to shop in Portuguese and get a little  what they told me,  I understood, that I'm not a tourist in Portugal anymore and that I felt me at home in Lisbon.

In Lisbon, I like almost everything: endless stairs to my home, endlessly rising and descending, and getting tired of it at the end of the day, and the idea that you do not need to go to the gym in Lisbon, to be in a good sport conditions, you can walk in the city and it's enough. I like the narrow streets, where so far amazed how the people drive cars and motorcycles, the aroma of coffee that comes from every step, which is very pleasant and tasty, Pastel de Nata and the other sweets that you can see in every cafe and store, and which are so fond of locals  and now for me too. The city's trolleys, the River Teju, where I like to spend my evenings, looking at the beautiful bridge and enjoying the evening street concerts, the Portuguese language, which is hard though, but very nice for me, castles and buildings, museums and libraries, which have a rich and old history... 

In a short,  I'm in love with Lisbon and I am open and ready to the new discoveries.