21 março 2019

O testimunho do Miguel

Three weeks before the start of my ECS I could have not imagined that I would be living in Lisbon
for the next 9 months. I had already visited the city a few times before with friends and have to admit I fantasied about living here and speaking Portuguese. So, I can now proudly tick that off my list of things to do in life.

The days running up to the 1st of March were filled up with excitement about this new opportunity and a hectic attempt to get everything sorted out, and say goodbye to friends and family. So, once I had my packed bags, decorations for the new room, and important paperwork ready for the move, I embarked on a 10-hour night bus ride to my new future (hoping to avoid making that mistake for my trip back by taking the plane next time hahah). By the time I woke up from my “short nap” I was crossing over the Tagus river on the Vasco da Gama bridge at 6am, arguably one the best entrances to the city and a perfect start of an ECS in Lisbon.

And what a better way to start this experience than by dancing in the streets! Within the first few days after getting to know each, the group of new volunteers and I had the chance to enjoy the carnival celebrations in Alfama. Thanks to the help and recommendations of the amazing Madga we found a quaint square from which to immerse ourselves into the festival spirit. With the sound of the beating drums, we embarked on our next chapter of our life.

Even though the thought of staying at a hostel for the first week was at first worrying, it turned out to be great. Not only did we as a family get to know each other in a more relaxing and different environment, but we also familiarised ourselves with the Bairro Padre Cruz. Its open-air urban art exhibition brings out both the life and the friendliness of its neighbours willing to give us a nice and warm welcome. It truly is an example of how communities can come together and an opportunity for us volunteers to follow through our own ECS projects.

After a few days of wandering around the city, moving into the new flat and enjoying the good weather and the company, it was time to start at our respective organisations. I will be volunteering at the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, to support and promote the municipality of Lisbon’s volunteering platform. I had chosen this project as a way to deepen my knowledge of the relationship between public institutions and non-governmental organisations with the goal of improving the city’s wellbeing and social connections.

Whilst rapidly developing my Portuguese skills, I hope to expand on my organisational, logistical, and communications skills and broaden my appreciation for good volunteering practices. So thank you Spin for giving me this opportunity and thank you Lisbon for letting be one more Lisboeta for the next 9 months.

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