13 agosto 2012

SVE em Lisboa - Ana Dishlieska - Mitova

It's already half way through my EVS in Portugal. The first months passed, so the period of fascination and adaptation are more or less over :) It has almost been five months of life transforming experiences bringing many good things to my life. As Theresa, Kaja and Gilles, I'm a volunteer of the Junta de Freguesia de Carnide (one of Lisbon's most famous municipalities), more specifically - working at a local school in one of its neighborhoods. The Junta has its own spaces in the school where the main idea is creating a space where informal education can be nourished side by side to the formal one the children get in the school. In reality, it is an after school activity program having the regular working day (14-19p.m.) with the children coming to the ATL, now called EJ (Espaco Jovem), and after finishing their homework doing various activities: from playing games (such as cards or monopoly) or doing sports outside, to some more elaborate activities if prepared by the ones working with them. Daily, I directly work with only one person, and often with interns who come for shorter times making a part of the life in the EJ.

In the beginning it was really hard not knowing the language while in the same time feeling the pressure to learn it as quick as possible so as to be able to function better there and give more than take. But on the other hand, this was a great stimulus, and also the fact being in the midst of the local community, made me the favor of learning the language so quick out of a scratch so as to be able to say that I already speak it now :)

The most beautiful thing in all of it, were and are the children. It was from them, more than from any Portuguese class, that I learned the language, and I cannot be more thankful for all the patience they had with me and the time they gave me learning along with them. Until the summer I have been working with children from the second cycle, meaning 11-13 years old, but from September on I'll most probably be with the ones of the first cycle (8-10), which I think is a better idea for this and every following project, at least for the beginning, simply because of the language barrier. The bigger children not just wish, but also need to speak on that age at least as much as they wanna play, and unfortunately that time, I could not give that to them as much as they deserved or needed it. A bad thing was that at times I didn't feel the support needed from the Junta or my tutor, and many times ended up stuck with communication issues and barriers. Still, I think that these are part of the things that can be worked out better next times and that all these experiences serve up to improving every following project to come. The way I personally dealt with it was trying to pave my way by at first, carefully observing the environment I'm in, the people I'm working with and the ways things are done there, and only after that, try to find subtle and clever ways of getting things done the best way possible in the given circumstances and environment. I think that it was one of the keys making me keep the smile in the end of the day :) And concerning the language thing, proposing and organizing creative activities is always a good plan. That was the best way to get to the children while still having a long way ahead for getting the language and also to bring a bit more of the informal education idea in the EJ other than simply being a monitor, or someone taking care of the children until their parents pick them up. By now I organized an architecture workshop, a little and simple atelier for fashion design and some getting-to-know-the-guitar atelier, which all proved to be great ways of connecting with the children and having fun together while making activities which as much were a learning experience, were also enjoyable. And for such a thing I believe everyone has their little talents and ideas which can be shaped in these or similar forms and offered to the children as possibilities for new fun learning experiences.

At the moment, I'm part of the Junta's summer colonies or summer camps, so I'm a monitor responsible for 7-9 children which as much enjoyable, to be true exhausting too :), at times can also be tricky, because of the simple fact that as much as in the beginning sounded romantic the idea of being considered as equals, in practice turns out to be pretty much impossible, even now when already speaking the language, because for me naturally it still asks much more effort from my side to get the same job done and holding the same responsibility as a paid person coming from Portugal.

In the end, I find my EVS an amazing life learning experience, and I consider that all the little 'falhas' can and will be improved through the experience gained making it even more enjoyable for every side with time. The worthiest thing in it, as I said, are definitely the children :) Getting to know them personally, having the opportunity to bring a smile or two on their faces, and also having the chance to be reminded about some things which we might have forgotten on our way of growing up to the world of the adults, is priceless. To me, they are the most precious thing of my working experience and an amazingly big part of my experience here as a whole. They are the ones in the end of the day making all this experience perfectly worthy! :) And for the rest of the EVS, I think it will speak for itself once in here ;) Lisboa is an amazing city with all its colorful spirit and the big heart it has, also having to meet all the beautiful people I met in here with whom I share this experience, for sure makes it one of those experiences in life that grows you, and I believe grows you for good.
Ana Dishlieska - Mitova

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