06 setembro 2023

Testemunho do André - Espanha, Projeto Montseny Bird Station


A minha experiência de ESC no Instituto Catalão de Ornitologia (ICO) foi verdadeiramente excepcional. Montseny é um lugar onde a ciência e a paixão se encontram para criar um ambiente de trabalho único.

A minha experiência de ESC no Instituto Catalão de Ornitologia (ICO) foi verdadeiramente excepcional. Montseny é um lugar onde a ciência e a paixão se encontram para criar um ambiente de trabalho único. Tive a oportunidade de participar em várias atividades únicas como por exemplo a anilhagem de grifos, seguimento de corujas e o desenvolvimento de caixas ninho.

Pude aprender com ornitólogos experientes na observação e no estudo de aves no seu habitat natural. A aprendizagem teórica também foi uma parte crucial com o acesso a formações enriquecedoras. Além do aspeto profissional, o ambiente acolhedor dos meus colegas de ESC foi extraordinário.

A nossa estadia isolada na montanha promoveu muita proximidade e criei laços (e histórias) que serão mantidos sem qualquer questão. Pude ainda explorar a Catalunha e a sua cultura tão única. Estou profundamente grato por ter tido a oportunidade de fazer parte deste projeto incrível. Não esquecerei nunca esta experiência. 


O testemunho no. 1 da André (Spin)


After 5 months, I am sure that I will never regret this decision. My name is André Arpagaus, I am 29 years old, and I am currently doing voluntary service in Lisbon, Portugal, with a non-profit organisation called SPIN, which is located in a socially disadvantaged neighbourhood.

The "Associação Spin" is involved in various areas. Its main objective is to promote and defend intercultural dialogue, human rights, equal opportunities, solidarity, and social integration. To achieve these goals, it carries out various national and international mobility projects.

Generally, I spend three days in our office in the Bairro Padre Cruz neighbourhood and two days working from home. The working hours are fixed, but there is often the possibility to work flexibly. The organisation trusts its volunteers, which is by no means a given.

The work is extremely varied, from administrative tasks in the office to participating in events and projects on site and externally. In addition, I regularly take care of our in-house hostel. There is always plenty to do - there is never a dull moment.

Certain cultural differences are noticeable, but I quickly got used to them. Lisbon is incredibly liberal and relaxed, a city with a special charm. Due to the similarity of my internship at aha, I was able to settle in quickly here as well.

The biggest challenge, apart from the somewhat peculiar and difficult language, was living together with people from different countries. It is easy to forget how privileged we are - in every way.

The highlight so far? The entire experience! Lisbon is a breathtakingly beautiful city that offers everything your heart desires. Unimaginably great and cosmopolitan people with whom you create lifelong memories!


30 agosto 2023

O testemunho no. 1 da Maryam (Spin)


Hey there,

I´m Maryam Odat, soaking up the vibrant vibes of Lisbon, Portugal, as part of the ESC program. Trust me, this place works its magic fast! ✨ Just two weeks in, and I'm already captivated.

The heartwarming people here remind me of home in Jordan – their hospitality is a universal language.

And the food? Let's just say my taste buds are on an adventure.

Exciting news: I´m joining the Spin team for nearly a year! I'll be jazzing up mobility programs and adding my touch to Bairro Padre Cruz. The energy here is contagious, and I can't wait to dive into all things SPIN.

Cheers to new adventures,


02 agosto 2023

O testemunho no. 1 da Katarina (Spin)


Hello, my name is Katarina and at the moment I am doing my ESC project in Lisbon. My host organization is SPIN, and I'll be spending 11 months in total on this volunteering position, helping them to organize and implement their projects in Barrio Padre Cruz, where their office is located.

I first visited Lisbon back in 2018. and I fell in love with the vibe of this city. I promised myself that I would come back sometime, but thinking about it right now, if someone told me that I would be spending almost a year in this magnificent place, I would not believe them for sure.

In the first months I was just wandering around, getting to know places and admiring all the beauty Portugal has to offer: amazing beaches, parks where I can rest and enjoy the nature, I even climbed Serra de Estrella, the highest mountain in Portugal, which for me was a great achievement and adventure, considering I didn't have a similar experience before.

People in Lisbon are very friendly, there are also a lot of people from different countries, so you can say that Lisbon is a very multicultural and open minded place, with lots of amazing places and events to offer.

I am also very happy to have other volunteers around, to share their experience upon arrival, because they have already went through their first encounter and cultural shock, so you feel less alone in the adaptation process. Team at SPIN is also very welcoming and helpful, and also easygoing, which I figured is also a part of their amazing Portuguese mentality.

Time is going by so fast and I am constantly learning new things and getting more experience of living in Lisbon. I am still not brave enough to speak Portuguese, although I understand a lot, but I promised myself that I will work on my skills in the months to come.

Lisbon is kind to me, so far it brought me many amazing experiences, great people and moments to remember, and I hope it will remain being generous with new adventures for me in the next months of my project. Until now, I am grateful for all it has offered so far.

Until the next check in, and more updates,

04 julho 2023

O testemunho No. 2 da Dina

Half a year has passed since I came to Portugal. During this time at the association where I  volunteer, we were super busy because of the many activities that were going on. Apart from that, I was occupied by so many opportunities that Lisbon is offering and spending time with my lovely flatmates and dear people me.

By collecting the food and necessities for the people of the neighborhood where the association is located, we made bags from reusable materials to put all these together. Later, together with the kids and colleagues, we visited around 20 families and distributed presents and wished them happy holidays. To wrap up the 2022, we organized an unforgettable and joyful dinner where we celebrated with almost 50 kids and spread some motivating and warm wishes to each other.

The first days of 2023 were crucial for us as we made plans and later on organized so many interesting activities, some of them with the help of partner associations, such as: promoting and joining a local theatre group, theoretical and practical bicycle activities and rides around the neighborhood and Lisbon, street football tournaments, picnics, pilates, yoga, music and dance classes, outdoor scavenger hunt games, visit to elderly house and socializing with elder people, master chef, safety walks in the neighborhood and overall education by police how to follow street signals, and so many. All this was done to improve skills and help kids gain knowledge regarding various things, as well as let them express themselves in different ways. 
By attending activities and spending time in the association, the bond between kids and me became so strong that now we can´t imagine days without each other. I must say that even though I work daily with them on different topics and help them do homework and learn more, they help me grow as well.

Next to volunteering, I had plenty of time to dedicate to myself. I joined a volleyball club and started training there. Therefore, I connected more with locals. 

I would like to add that Portugal is fascinating with its amazing nature, landscapes, beaches and cities. I had the opportunity to visit many of them and enjoy each moment.  
Overall, life here has been amazing, especially with all the people around me, who I appreciate and love more and more each day. 


27 junho 2023

O testemunho no. 1 da Hanna (Spin)


I am sitting at my desk in the Spin office, writing my first testimony. I have been in Portugal, Lisbon for over a month now and I can put my hand to my heart and say - it has been the best decision of my life to come here, change myself including the community around me for the better.

Hi, I am Hanna, originally from Estonia, a country where most of the time it is cold and cloudy, but I am enjoying the sun here in Lisbon, taking every last piece of it in.. I am just 19 years old, the youngest volunteer right now in Spin  Association. Freshly graduated from high school, I chose to turn my life upside down and do something different, outrageous. Looking for a job I came across an opportunity to volunteer in Spin  Association for a year and I knew it was something I have been looking for. 

 In my first month I already had to work with my first ever youth exchange (which was the coolest experience ever) and had to manage our organization's own spin hostel. I never had a job before, that means it's my first time working in shifts, doing paperwork and helping with different projects. I was really excited but also scared, if I can manage this workload, and if I will do everything right. Despite my fears my coworkers are the sweetest people on earth, guiding me through my first weeks, months, giving me time to settle and learn from my own mistakes. 

I also would like to give attention and show my appreciation to my flatmates, who I have lived with for some time and will have to spend my whole year with. Living with complete strangers is a new experience for me, but something I hold dearly in my heart now. It's amazing how you can become so close with people in a few weeks… Months. Strangers have become my little family, who I can always count on, and who I can share this amazing experience with.

This is my first testimony, but not last. I can only imagine what great things I will see, work on and experience. I am only at the start of my journey through Portugal and my volunteering in Spin and I could not be more excited and happy to be here and bring  you with me through my adventures.

O testemunho No. 2 do Moka

So no one told you life was going to be this way?

[in a somber singalong of the Friends theme song]

As I am approaching my 26 years on this delicate planet, I start to realize more and more how chaotic my approaches, opportunities, and behavior in different situations are. As much as I still find it harder and harder to deal with humans and not make mistakes, I am finding that there is no place for me to perfect my stance on life other than Lisbon and Portugal.

So hi! It’s me again! Coming at you after a rollercoaster start of 2023. Actually, for the most part, life has been fulfilling. Let’s start with the headline: I am no longer a volunteer at SPEAK. Yup, that can happen and has happened. Like any relationship in life, I found out that I am not a good fit for the organization. They have a certain approach to implementing projects that made me and they suffer to the point that it was best for everyone to sever ties. It was not the best thing that could happen to me, but it certainly made me realize more about what I want and what I am trying to avoid. I am very grateful that the folks at Spin have embraced me as a member of their team and that I have been given another chance to continue my life here in Portugal among amazing people and a welcoming environment.

Otherwise, as part of SPEAK’s mission, I have organized a few language exchange meetups in Almada and met very lovely people from different nationalities! And on a personal level, I have made trips to Marrakech, Valencia, and several cities in Italy with friends! Being in Morocco was actually my first time in another Arab/African country and I couldn’t have picked a better place to visit. The only problem was how different the Arabic they spoke there from the one I have learned all my life. Do you know these videos on TikTok where people make fun of how fast Arabs speak and how weird Arabic might sound? That’s Morrocan Arabic right there. The struggle was real. And Italy? I can’t even begin to tell you about the food and history. Molto fantastico!

The next steps in my journey are to work on my project in Lisbon and do more volunteer work. I already have some ideas in mind that I want to work on, so I will leave that as “to be continued…” until my next testimony. See you soon, whether in Portugal or on another page of the Spin blog.