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.

16 novembro 2018

O testemunho da Nives

O meu Sve já acabou há um mês e já estou a escrever da Itàlia. Os ultimos meses passaram muito depressa. O trabalho na Associaçao Salvador não faltou. Colaborei com o projeto “Banco de Ajudas Técnicas Desportivas”, que atruibui equipamentos desportivos a pessoas com deficiência motora que querem praticar desporto adaptado. Ainda, em Setembro acabámos o trabalho para a publicação do “Livro dos 15 anos da Associação Salvador”, que foi uma das primeiras coisas em que comecei a trabalhar há um ano quando cheguei em Lisboa e que finalmente nasceu alguns dias atrás!

Continuei os projetos pessoais que tinha começado: o tandem de italiano/português e o suporte psicológico a uma mulher com paralisia cerebral. Para mim foi muito gratificante ter a possibilidade de propor estas minhas ideias. Teve a possibilidade de experimentar novos desafios, como ensinar a minha língua, e de aprofundar o suporte a pessoas com deficiencia, que é um tema mais perto da minha área de formação. 

Neste momento estou a cumprir o estágio profissional para psicólogos, e acredito que a experiencia na Associação Salvador influiu muito sobre a escolha do setor. Estou integrada num centro de riabilitação para pessoas que tiveram lesões cerebrais, algumas destas não são muitos diferentes das que encontrei graças ao meu SVE. Ainda, sinto que esta experiencia deu-me uma nova energia para continuar no meu caminho de formação e trabalho. Antes de chegar em Portugal estava muito desconfiada relativamente ao meu futuro profissional, à área em que me specializar, e também às minhas competencias. Agora, pelo menos, tenho mais conhecimento do que mais gosto de fazer e que sou capaz de fazer.

Não faltaram também ocasiões para viajar em Portugal. Sobre tudo no último período do meu SVE teve o desejo e a possibilidade de explorar partes do País mais tradicionais e longe das influencias internacionais da capital. Abrimos um pequeno blog sobre os viajens em Portugal que fiz com o meu namorado (www.nonmisoorientare.altervista.org), infelizmente agora não temos muito tempo para atualizá-lo como queríamos. 

Em fim, agora que já acabei o projeto e voltei no meu País, consigo ver mais a importancia que esta experiencia teve para mim. Parece-me de ver o mundo em maneira diferente. Não foi só uma experiencia profissional num outro país, não foi só aprender uma outra língua, mas foi sobretudo uma experiência de vida. Foi conhecer um País e a sua cultura, foi conhecer pessoas diferentes, com culturas e ideias diferentes, e muito mais. E por isto agradeço imenso a Associação Spin e a Associação Salvador por ter me dado esta possibilidade. Obrigada! Já tenho muitas saudades deste lindo País.

07 novembro 2018

O testemunho da Monika

Comecei o meu SVE há um mês. Vim para Lisboa depois de seis anos de ausência. Antes, naquele tempo fiz o meu Erasmus na Universidade Nova e me apaixonei profundamente pela cidade, pela sua tranquilidade e pela sensação de que, apesar de ser uma capital, parece uma vila pequena. Estou aqui de novo, esta vez como voluntária na Spin. Adoro este espaço (especialmente o azulejo com o “Principezinho que fica num dos pátios interiores da Antiga Escola do Tejo) e as pessoas que o criaram.

Todos os dias apreço a possibilidade de estar aqui. Para mim foi a última oportunidade de fazer o meu EVS porque em Outubro fiz 30 anos (os amigos da Spin fizeram-me uma torta muito saborosa). Amo as tarefas que me estão a dar, sou muito multi-task e gosto muito disso porque não gosto de monotonia na minha vida. Estou muito otimista com a minha estadia aqui. Acho que apesar de tudo o que as pessoas estão dizendo, Lisboa não mudou muito. Realmente aprecio as pessoas que moram aqui, acho que elas criam uma atmosfera única deste lugar. Também adoro o bairro Padre Cruz, antes não conhecia essa parte da cidade. O meu sítio favorito é o bar chamado “O churrasquinho” :) Também adoro os graffitis e os vizinhos do bairro, acho que são muito abertos.  Vou contar-lhes mais coisas em breve :) Até ja!  


O testemunho da Romane

“Why the hell am I doing this, again?” I asked myself few days before taking the plane to Lisbon while trying to pack a year of stuff in a 20kg suitcase. It was still a bit sunny there in Bretagne, my cat looked at me moving all over the house without understanding what the hell was happening and my mother kept remembering me to print that damn boarding pass. It feels ages ago but it just has been two months that I left France from Lisbon, ready – as much as I could – to start my EVS. 
There are a lot of answers to this initial question. Maybe it’s because I’ve always dreamt to carry catfood in a cup for a whole day by 30°C (true story). Maybe it’s because I wish to expand my resistance to the sun. Maybe it’s because Lisbon is a cheap way to get strong legs – damn, those dear stairs! Maybe I wish to start a Youtube channel on how to survive winter without central heat. Who knows. The answers are quite infinite. But the real question was: “What do you want to do?”

I was there, I, Romane, 24 years old, on my working desk in Paris, struggling to know which EVS project I would choose. Right now, the sky could be rainy, the streets would be flat and there would be no red bridge on the horizon. Dublin or Lisbon. Bright accent or scary new language. Well-known Celtic country or brand new sunny land. I had very few time to decide, barely a day to choose which path I’d give to my life. And then, a friend asked me: “What do you want to do?” And this is what led me there. Because it wasn’t about the language, the culture, neither about that guilty feeling I’d have withdrawing my acceptation for the first offer. It was about communication or culture. And here I was. For once in my life, I took back my words, I declined the first offer even though I already accepted it and this was the first step of that life-changing experience I quite expect EVS to be. Few days after, I got a Portuguese language manual for my birthday. Because this is what I want to do: to get more involved in the cultural field and discover, learn, explore it, as much as I can.

Those past months in Lisbon have been… Incredibly fast. First there was fear. Will I get along with the other people? Will they think I am too shy? Will I be good enough, will they regret to have selected me? Thousands of new questions dancing around my head while I was just moving in my new accommodation. Until the beginning. The real beginning, this first time I met the other volunteers on the metro station at Anjos on the way to the welcome lunch. Slowly, the questions faded away. It was still there but it wasn’t my principal thought. One day you’re alone in a new country and the day after, you suddenly know around ten people. I started to feel better and the amazingness of all these new people, places, activities, overcame the fear very quickly. I started to feel at home in my new flat, I get used to switch between languages and not end up with a headache, I memorized the way to go home, I helped a Portuguese people to take the right metro and the three floors I have to walk up to my flat are almost easy now. I started bounding with people and making friends, enjoyed sharing time with all of the volunteers, got to know the dysfunctions of my home and enjoyed more and more being the night talks in the kitchen with my roommates. I had a good time at some of the last Outjazz festival in Lisbon and happily met my mentor, cursed about the hotness for the Bretonne I am, loved the atmosphere of Lisbon. I went to Cascais to enjoy a bit of the last summer time at beach, I saw Belém again, I located Bairro Alto and Baixa-Chiado, I ended up in Almendre and wondered if I really left Bretagne or if the menhirs just followed me, I got almost lost in Sintra with friends trying to not get killed by some ghosts or creatures or whatever is in those woods, I met people from countries I’d never thought I’d meet and I felt at home in another country while being in Seixal. And, most of all, I discovered Boutique da Cultura, the cultural association of Carnide I am going to work with for 12 months.

From the moment I arrived in Boutique da Cultura and met my tutor, all the people working or volunteering here, I really felt soothed. I might have not met all the Portuguese people and, of course, generalization is never an everlasting truth, but it is a fact that all the people I met through Spin or Boutique da Cultura have a kindness and a warm welcome that I hardly found elsewhere. So, even though you are miles away from your home, you are still a bit lost and keep feeling a bit lonely, you can count on the generosity of Portuguese people to relieve your anxiety. Thanks to the incredible welcome I received here, I was able to feel ready to start the EVS adventure. 
And there was no time to loose! The Feira da Luz of Carnide was about to begin for Boutique da Cultura and with very few knowledge of Portuguese, I was already on the stand of the Incubadora da Artes, trying to memorize which word was used for “magnet” and what is a “cadeira” again and where is the “lixo”? It has been a very interesting month and it is probably the best way to get to know the environment I was working in. It helped me a lot to feel comfortable and be more peaceful about my stay here. I met all the people involved in Boutique da Cultura, I could name things in Portuguese and make a full sentence – especially the very useful “I don’t speak very well Portuguese, wait a second I am going to call someone” – and, most of all, I enjoyed my time at Feira da Luz. 

But the amazing thing with Boutique da Cultura is there is always way more to discover! I spent few time in the Livraria Solidária where secondhand books are sold at a very affordable price and my booklover heart couldn’t be more delighted. Couldn’t be, really? Actually I was wrong. I still hadn’t met the whole potential of Bento Martins. This is where Boutique da Cultura gives theatrical representation and this is where I went from being all cheered up to get really, really excited. Going back to theatre is all I dream for years and it is highly part of why this EVS project kept my attention, beside the Livraria. So when I had to help for the first time to set up the lights for a future theatre play, I was sure that I did the right choice. Books, I know. Theatre too. But not in this way. And this is the kind of things I want to go in deeper, this is why I applied for EVS. The best part was when our tutor asked us, I and my Italian EVS colleague Simone, to be part of the Christmas play. I mean, I can learn about setting up theatre play AND enjoying to be back on stage too? Of course I sign in for it! Even though the scary side note is “you will have to perform in Portuguese and, hey, French girl, you have a lot to learn”, I was highly elated. And I am still am. Being part of this theatre play is one of the best opportunity to, not only fulfill my will to reconnect with theatre, but it is also a great way to learn Portuguese, to get to know better how Boutique da Cultura works, to meet the people involved in the structure… And to feel well, simply. Actually, I was still joyfully shouting to my friends in France “I’m going to be part of a theatre play! I’m gonna do theatre again!” when another great news completed to make me sure I was at the right place. I still remember being at the Livraria Solidária with fresh bookmarks done when being asked if I was able to work on the publishing of a book. Sure, I am. This is exactly what I studied for some years and this is what I quite gave up on starting an EVS project. Guess what? I don’t have to give up on this. I am working on the publishing of a book. A whole book, made by myself – even the cover! This I could never imagine. I expected the library, I expected the technical theatre part (good things I know what I am applying for, eh), but publishing was a tiny little thing I thought I would have to let down for some time. But Boutique da Cultura gives me the opportunity to work on every single field I am interested in. And there are still so many other things that I have done being here I am not writing down! The vivid and swirling life of this place is awesome and I am sure I will keep being amazed during the months to come.

I can barely imagine that some month ago, I was having the worst experience of my life and living one of the most struggling moments I had. Working under time pressure, hierarchical, social and personal pressure, in a place where the excellence was the only thing accepted and time the most treasured thing. I remember when I was writing over and over motivation letters to EVS projects, looking almost every day at the database, following the new posts on an EVS Facebook group, waiting for answers, preparing for Skype interviews, this feeling of hope and excitement when you are selected, the disappointment when the European Commission does not accept the project, the tiredness of doing it all over again, and then once more the joy, the excitement… 

And the final happiness when you are told that yes, it is sure, you are selected and you will go. Here I am. Among all the projects I have applied for, among all the paths I could have chosen, among all the possibilities who could have occurred, I truly think that right now, right here, is the best EVS project I could have done. I find here everything I want to do, I am surrounded by lovely people, I am extremely lucky to be in such a great city, I am in the best professional environment I have ever been to and I am not scared anymore. Or maybe a little. But I mostly know that I can try. I can talk and being listened. All I have to do is making efforts on my own. And this is up to me. EVS won’t change my life if I am not working on it too. But, look: I already had small victories. I declined an offer to be here. I go make tea on my own without any anxiety on the work space – and believe me, the girl I was three years ago could never have done that. I try to push myself to go towards people. I might still don’t know if I’m good enough. But I know I feel good here, with all these people. And there is so much more to come!

06 novembro 2018

O testemunho do Damien

Hello, bonjour, bom dia…Lisboa. It's August 28 and I have just arrived in Lisbon, the city of seven hills. For the next 9 months Casa Anjos will be my house that I will share with 8 other volunteers. Welcome to Portugal. Lucky me  before starting this EVS adventure I will have a week to explore the city. Great opportunity to walk around to get familiar with the city, get lost (still happening now sometimes) and visit this colorful city of Sintra. 

Crescer na Maior - my hosting organization - develops several projects to intervene with the most  vulnerable populations. One of this project is "E Uma Vida" that promotes integration of the refugees into the community. What does it mean? For a period of time of 18 months - duration of the program - we will work closely with beneficiaries to support their integration : housing, social, finance, education, etc.  

How I feel? Really curious about this new unknown environment.
After 2 months trying to find my role, working with all members of the team, meeting beneficiaries of the program and going with them to appointments/institutions depending the purpose I can say one thing… Be ready to adapt to the situation and to surf on the wave. Communication is one big challenge and to be honest I was a little bit lost at the beginning… Not only with English or Portuguese, but also with Tigrinya (Eritrea), Kurdish (Irak/Syria), Arabic, etc… So far I have 3 new teachers, ready to teach me some few words in their own language.

Beside the regular follow up we do also house visits to meet people at home to see if everything is ok and to talk about the daily life. In that occasion I met an old couple very friendly and welcoming. Each time we visit them they offer us tea and cookies… They are spontaneous persons but I have to admit they really put a lot of sugar with tea (too much for me!).  More seriously I have to say that it inspires me to see that even if they have to leave their all world (family, house, job, country) they are always keep smiling. 

I can't imagine it's been allready 2 months I arrived. Times flies. Having the opportunity to watch a dolphins show, driving a van full of furniture in the city center, meeting a baby named "Cristiano" in reference to CR7, tasting kurdish bread, traveling a bit around the country… are probably my firsts unexpected situations. Looking forward to see what is next. 

O testemunho do Simone

Hello everyone! My name is Simone, I am 25 years old and I come from a small village in the north-west of Italy. Last year I graduated in Primary Education and I became a primary school teacher, soon after I started working in a school near my hometown, in short my life was going according to the plans I had set for myself years before. The problem is that I started to feel that this life was not for me, at least for now. I felt the necessity to change my habits, to grow, to extend my mind. I discovered EVS talking about this with a friend and I thought it was the right experience for me.
I remember very well the moment I discovered I was chosen for my EVS: it was about midnight and I had just returned home from an evening with friends, before going to bed I decided to open the mail and with my surprise the Spin e-mail was there, ready to be read. I remember that the only thing I wanted to do after receiving the result was screaming and jumping of joy but it was night and I tried to keep the enthusiasm in order not to wake the whole neighborhood. So I went to bed, I wrote to my best friends to tell them the good news and then I tried to sleep but I was so excited that I think I fell asleep at five in the morning!

 I arrived in Lisbon on the first of September, despite the initial enthusiasm I started almost immediately to feel strange. I felt lost, I didn’t know how to hold on, I walked around the city and the only thing I thought was that I wanted to see my home, my friends and my family. Fortunately, this feeling didn’t last long, as the days passed, the same places that I had been watching with fear began to be familiar, and what I started to love in this city is that every day I got to know something unexpected and interesting.

Another thing that certainly helped me to overcome my initial fears was the knowledge of the other volunteers and those who will live with me for the next twelve months. In my apartment we are 9 with only one bathroom, or rather a bathroom and a half, it may seem crazy like that, but for some strange reason we manage the situation very well. Sometimes this can be chaotic, but honestly I would never change my life here for something more comfortable, because after all what makes this experience special are the people that share this with you and in "Casa Anjos" I found really nice  people and with them I’m sharing thoughts, dreams, travel and above all food!

Even my job, the Boutique da Cultura association, is really a beautiful environment: all the people who are part of it have been very nice with me since the beginning and at the same time we never miss the opportunity to joke together and work with a smile. I'm really happy to work here, art, especially the performative one, is one of my great passions and working with it all day  it’s a kind of a dream for me.

After two months of EVS I can say that what I'm experiencing here is better than any idea I had before leaving, what I hope at the end of this year is not to have regrets, i really hope to be able to travel as much as possible and to discover all the beauty that this country has to offer me. Last but not least, I wish myself to find what I have been looking for some time, however, first I have to understand what it is! =)

31 outubro 2018

O testemunho da Monika

You know that feeling when you go to a concert and you feel the bass, this strong physical sensation of sound running through your body? It comes in waves, hits you hard, your heart jumps with the rhythm and you feel the vibrations running through your body, pounding with the loud beats of the music. And then it makes you excited, maybe a little bit confused, but it feels so good. And all you want is to jump and dance and then jump even harder.  And you suddenly find yourself spinning around, feeling almost alone, although you are surrounded with so many people. You feel lost in the moment and you let your body move freely, your thoughts float away, and you feel like the world is yours and you just keep on spinning...

          Well, this is not how I initially felt when I came here. I was excited of course, but for me, it was “just another trip”, one of the many I´ve done in the last few years. Even though I was aware that I am moving to a new place and that I will actually stay and live there, it did not feel any different than a one-week trip. Being alone, in a totally new country was not new to me – I’ve already faced the same when I moved abroad to the USA, back in 2016, and then one more time in 2017. This being said, my journey started as a very ordinary one, but let me reassure you, it did not stay such for long.

          I arrived in Lisbon late in the night on the 3th of July and for the first time, I entered my new home. An old typical building, that is famously known as Casa Anjos among the volunteers, with green azulejos (ceramic tiles) on the outside and a big white heavy front door. The first thing you see when you open the door is a dark hallway with a beautiful high ceiling and a wooden rotating staircase. It takes exactly 40 stairs to climb to get to the 2nd floor, where my apartment is located. Inside, there is a long labyrinth-like corridor with an old smelly carpet, doors covered with paint that is peeling off and walls with posters, stickers and pictures that serve as a reminder that many other young people lived there before me. This flat felt strange at first, but it will later become a place where beautiful moments will happen - shared dinners, long balcony talks, late night gatherings. A place where music will play for hours, where lots of wine bottles will be emptied and where friendships will be born. At that moment, this place was just “my new apartment”, but very soon it became the place that now I call my home.  

And there, for the first time, I met my future flatmates, a group of young people coming from different countries – France, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Hungary and Spain (later we got newcomers from Belgium and Armenia as well). We are nine altogether, and if you think nine people living together is a lot, you are right! Regardless of this fact, miraculously we get along really well. Although it sometimes gets crowded (for example, when there are more than four people cooking dinner at the same time the kitchen becomes a battlefield), being constantly surrounded with people is rewarding – you always have someone to talk to, make plans with, go out, grab a coffee together, cook dinner, ask for help, or advice, or simply have a nice company. And if nine is not enough, there are two more apartments with more volunteers and ex-volunteers, one next door and the other one downstairs – or in other words, you can never get bored if you live in Casa Anjos. Because of all this, I have to say, not the building itself, but the people who live there with me are the ones that make living in Casa Anjos a big part of my EVS journey and make our old building bright and full of spirit.

          Day two, and I am set to start my volunteering job at Spin. It happened that I arrived in the middle of the first “Live it Lisbon” project (there was a second one later in August) and if you are curious, when you mention Live it Lisbon to Spin’s volunteers, they associate it with two things – exhaustion and fun. Now, you probably want to know what we do during this project that makes us feel so exhausted, and the answer is – everything. During 10 days we spend all of our time with the participants – we organize workshops for them, we do community work together, we take them to cultural trips around Lisbon, we cook and clean with them, we take care of the hostel and on top of that we have to do our regular office work (in my case, I work in the European Programs and Mobility Department).

And despite all of this, despite working overtime and working hard, an unusual phenomenon happens – we never leave the office after our shift finishes. Instead, we make the choice of staying longer and we spend our free time with the participants. Sometimes, this goes to that extent, that we even sleep at the office. Usually, it goes like this – let’s say we have a second shift from 3pm until 10pm, then, we decide to stay and hang out with the group – we listen music, play games, share beer or go out in downtown together. Than we check the time and it is already 4am in the morning. We have 4 hours left until our next shift, which starts at 8. We decide that it is better to stay and sleep in the hostel (or in the office) instead of waking up at 6.30am in order to get on time to work (to get from Casa Anjos to Spin it takes around 45 minutes, sometimes even more). Sleep deprived, we continue working the next day, we drink lots of coffee and we manage to make it through the day. Then, our shift finishes, and one more time we face a difficult choice. Torn between having a decent sleep at home or doing the same thing over again, we choose, one more time, to stay.

          But working at Spin is not only Live it Lisbon. When we don’t host a project and when we don’t have a hostel full of participants, things are taking a completely different turn. During our “normal office days” as we call them, we like to do our job in an easy-going manner. The first thing we do in the morning is, of course, coffee. This is a ritual that has to be strictly respected - otherwise, there is a huge risk that we are not going to be focused enough to do our jobs properly. As soon as we have our daily caffeine fix, we are ready to start. We all have our own areas of work and different tasks are assigned to us, so work is mostly individual. Sometimes, we team up and do things together. However, what connects us all are two things – the office space and the lunch breaks.

          Spin has the best office ever – this is because it is a huge place and it gives us enough personal space, but on the other hand, since we are all in the same room, we are communicating all the time, we joke around, help each other, we listen to music together and the list goes on and on. Another cool thing about Spin’s working space is that we have our hostel right next doors and this means we have a huge kitchen where we can prepare our lunches, of course, if we are not too lazy to do it. Every now and then, you can see us turning into master chefs showing off our cooking skills, which comes as a very handy skill during international Thursdays – a long-lasting tradition in Spin where one volunteer prepares a traditional lunch from their own country for everyone at work.

          Another thing about Spin’s lunch breaks is that they have a special place in every volunteer’s heart. This is because, during this hour, we get to spend time together, we talk about everyone and everything, we challenge each other with annoying mind games and we discuss serious topics such as zodiac signs and numerology. We usually take our puffs and align them in the front yard and then we eat, talk and chill, while catching some sunshine at the same time. Other times, we take out a table and some chairs, and we have a more properly looking lunch. When it is cold, we eat inside. Lunch break is also the time for free styling. For example, once, the fact that we have showers in the hostel inspired me to use my lunch breaks for exercising – stretching, short sprints, push-ups, crunches, squats, etc. The enthusiasm lasted for about a week, but I am mentioning it because it helps me give you a picture of all the things one can possibly do at Spin.

          Now, I think I will cut short my story and write the last paragraph of this testimony. I already wrote too much, and believe me, I can write a whole book about my EVS and everything that I experienced in the last four months. I would write more about what living in Lisbon means, about the spirit of this city, the culture, all the good places you can visit, all the things you can do, all the events, exhibitions, concerts you can go to. I would write about Portugal, about the amazing places I’ve visited and the adventures I had, the people I’ve met and shared beautiful moments with. I would write about the small villages of Alentejo, the beautiful beaches of Algarve, the volcanic lagoons of the Azores, the mountains and the forests of Geres, the palaces of Sintra, the streets of Cascais. I would write about the ocean, and the waves, about surfing, about the sun. I would write about how much I love the Portuguese language and I would even try to write all this in Portuguese instead of English. I would write about how this EVS gave me the chance to find more about myself and taught me how to take it easy and enjoy the moment. I would write about trying new things, taking risks, making choices. I would write about the moments that made me feel like jumping and spinning around, that made me feel truly happy.

Maybe in my next testimony, I will write it all.

Until next time,


O testemunho da Elise

After 5 months in Lisbon, I can say that I’m a real portuguese girl. No I’m joking, I ate a lot of pastel de nata but I’m not yet portuguese even if I fell in love for this country, maybe quite little in size but really deep in term of culture and history. I remember in my first testimony, I joked saying that my main goal would be to try every speciality. It’s an objective still in progress, there is more than one hundred ways to cook the “bacalhau” so it will take me time.
These last 5 months were really intense, I travelled a lot in all the country. The Portugal is very different from the North to the South, about the portuguese language but also the mentalities and the landscapes. I keep a particular memory of Alentejo and Algarve. I had also the chance to travel to the islands of Açores, such an adventure! The EVS leaves you the opportunity to travel in so beautiful places. Travelling is a way to discover yourself, to evolve, to share particular and unexpected moments with friends or even strangers. 

I discovered also deeply the city of Lisbon, by day and by night. Lisbon is very rich culturally with a lot of museums, expositions, concerts, but also with an intense nightlife. I still keep some struggle with the portuguese language. The pronunciation is quite difficult to understand for the French girl I am. But with time, the “shhhh” that I only was able to understand, begin to seem like real sentences. To have local friends helped me a lot to improve and understand better this totally new language, which I discover, can be finally very musical and deep in meaning.
I’m feel like at home here because my roommates are my friends and our house, “Casa Anjos” as we could traduce “Angel’s house”, is full of energy, love and happiness. We are used to meet in the kitchen and discuss about our life, our dreams, our goals, our expectations. It’s all about sharing real moment with people as open minded than you but from so different countries and cultures (8 exactly). The EVS community is kind of a family and she is very active. We do a lot of things all together like the Clube de Literatura, the Portuguese classes, the International dinners... Plus, with the people who are part of my project, we must create an exposition about the Human Rights. It’s the occasion to work more together, putting all our ideas in order to create something interesting about this subject.

About my main work with kids, I could say it’s always in evolution. I was supposed to work only in one children’s center but finally I go in two different centers, Vicentix and Fradix. It’s the occasion for me to work in two different social environments, with two different teams, two different tutors. I had a certain time of adaptation, it wasn’t easy every day but now I found my marks and I have really great time in these places.

It’s strange to think that I already did more than the half of my EVS. I’m not the new one anymore. The EVS experience is completely up to you. I choose to discover deeply the portuguese life and now, I’m feel like at home so far from my own country. For the last months I have, I hope to share more moments with my EVS family, with my portuguese friends, experiment more and more things in Lisbon which is still full of secrets. Because at the end of my project, I want to have a lot of good memories maybe to understand better what is to have “saudade”, the portuguese word which has any translation in other languages.

30 outubro 2018

O testemunho da Elena

Quando estava escrevendo o primeiro blog,com as primeiras impressoes  gerais nunca tinha imaginado que estes 12 meses iam correr tao rapidos.Aqui è sempre a Elena que fala,mas esta vez com um ar mais melancolico porque o EVS acabou e tenho que voltar na minha cidade:Milao alias Gotham City.
Foram meses  incriveis: eu foi muito sortuda porque conheci pessoas fantasticas na minha casa e tambem no Caf onde trabalhava,sem esquecer a cidade de Lisboa,agora entendo porque nosso escritor Antonio Tabucchi nunca mais quis voltar na Italia depois ter vivido na cidade da Luz.

Cheguei no CAF na ponta dos pes(humildemente),com a sensacao de estar no projeto certo,com o passar do tempo os colegas tornaram-se amigos,as atividades desportivas praticadas no Caf correram sempre bem,treinei os miudos do grupo “Estrelinhas do Mar”(adorei trabalhar com este grupo,foi um desafio para mim tambem,porque nunca tinha treinado jovens NEE,sempre agradacerei o Josè e a Milena para  esta oportunidade),minha ajuda nos TDC era uma grande ocasiao para melhorar meu portugues e conhecer mais os miudos do 5° e 6°ciclo,consegui nestas missoes e estou muito feliz para ter alcancado meus objetivos iniciais.Gostei muito conhecer as realidades do APCL e do Centro Comunitario de Telheiras,adorei ver como os miudos se tornavam cuidadosos, os idosos se riam quando chegavamos,porque sabiam que ia ser uma tarde de alegria dos pequenos misturada a sabedoria e simpatia deles,juntos conseguiram fazer candeeiros com plastico reciclado e desenhos de animais usando so tampas, o resultado foi fenomenal e foi exibido no Festival de Telheiras.

Os miudos ficaram muitos contentes e criativos quando fomos na Assosiacao Spin,gracas ao Michael,voluntario da Republica Checa,que precisou da nossa ajuda para crear a floresta do seu Castelo de Alienos,projeto feito utilizando so material reciclado,o resultado foi incrivel e o Castelo ainda està na escola Sao Vicente.

Vivi o 25 de Abril,dia da Revolucao,com meu cravo na mao como se estivesse em Milao no dia da Resistencia,achei interessante que as duas datas corrispondiam na Italia como no Portugal,senti-me em casa pela primeira vez.
Nos dias seguintes  tive a ideia de explicar e contextualizar historicamente aos miudos do 5° e 6° ciclo e as “Estrelinhas do Mar”  nossa musica da resistencia: “Bella Ciao”,eles ficaram muitos curiosos sobre o assunto e tambem quiseram saber o significado das palavras,com a ajuda tecnica da monitora Geny ensinamos tambem a musica,eles gostaram muito e no ensaio do fim de ano eles cantaram a musica ,foi emocionante.
Depois comecaram as aventuras do Verao no Caf,fomos em todos os cantos possiveis e imaginaveis da cidade(desde o Museo Nacional do Teatro atè ao Museo Bordalo Pinheiro,desde  o Castelo de Sao Jorge atè ao projeto MARE,desde o Oceanario atè as costas Caparica(visitando varias praias)desde os estudos da RTP,atè ao centro APEDV,desde o Parque Monteiro atè o Monsanto e mais...)sem esquecer as atividades no Caf. Cada dia para mim era uma descuberta fiquei muito entusiasta das saidas e das aventuras que viviamos. 

Sai do Caf,com uma consciencia maior sobre minhas competencias na area da educacao nao formal,aprendi muitas coisas neste ano a traves dos meus colegas do Caf,voluntarios e workshops.
Um obrigado especial a Casa Anjos, pessoal foi um ano incrivel!
Serei sempre grata a Associacao Spin para esta grande oportunidade: “O Voluntariado è uma forma de melhor entederes o mundo e apreciares ainda mais a tua vida!”

Viva o CAF Vicentix(so para aventureiros) e Viva Lisboa!
Atè logo

29 outubro 2018

O testemunho da Alicia

I find myself in the middle of my Erasmus stay, it seems that I started this experience only one month ago and, almost without realizing, it has been 6 months since I got to Lisboa. Well, the summer have been astonishing, I have visited several beaches around Lisbon and many cities, I have enjoyed the best rooftop bars of the city and I have tasted food that you cannot imagine what delicious it was, and, the best of all, I dared to try the “Pastel de Belém”; although I am living near Belém, I was afraid to become addicted to them, and actually I am now, but, at least, it is a sweet addiction, and that is always good. There has been also an unpleasant part in this period of my EVS, I have said goodbye to many friends because their time in Lisbon was over, that is the worst part of Erasmus experience from my point of view.  

Related to my job, what can I say...finally I found the reason why I studied environmental sciences, to dedicate a part of my life to develop a job which I enjoy day by day, I am surrounded by excellent professional and technicians who also share the same passion...birds and nature, so, every day I learn something new, and, at the same time, they also ask me for sharing my knowledge as if I was part of this professional team, so that make me feel really good because they let me contribute my own ideas to the projects.     

Coming to the end with my second testimony, I hope that the rest of the time that remaining for me, was even much better than so far or at least just as good, and I hope to know more things about Portugal, in general, and Lisbon, in particular. Next month, Açores is waiting for me, so in my following testimony I will tell about this trip and show some of my pictures.