01 agosto 2019

Miguel’s testimony No.2

Five months have passed since I started my ESC adventure in Lisbon and, truth be told, it feels as if  I have been here for longer and simultaneously just arrived. Up to this day, it has been jam-packed with experiences at my hosting organisation, within my group of friends and beyond. Even if is hard to summarise it in a few lines, I take this testimony as a way to reflect upon it all.

Compared to the rough start in terms of adapting to the working environment and the new language, the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa has become a second home for me.  From the start, I felt included as another team member and was given the opportunity to voice my opinion and contribute to the improvements for the newly-created Volunteering Platform. As a result, the amazing team of colleagues has allowed me to grow professionally and personally and become more confident in my Portuguese.

As I came into the project with an interest in acquiring project management and communication skills, I put myself forward to develop a communication plan aiming to increase the visibility of the Municipal Volunteering Bank. Without hesitation, the team at CML welcomed this project with open arms and have given me sufficient tools and support to carry it out. Ever since I have been advancing with this side project at the same time as my other daily tasks and researching potential ways of achieving the set communication goals for the institution.

Not only have I been active within the CML, but my project and participation in the On-Arrival and Mid-Term Training programmes have allowed me to grasp recent developments within the volunteering, social cohesion and social development fields in Portugal and Europe. I have been able to attend several working group meetings on updated statistics on volunteering rates in Portugal, volunteering in mental health, increasing cooperation in public health programmes and the WHO, and developments in Portuguese social economy. Through the training programmes, I got to discuss, compare and analyse other ECS projects and identify similarities and differences. This just is another example out of millions that demonstrate the power of ESC and EU mobility programmes in terms of getting to know from a direct perspective different realities. As a result, all of this has made my volunteering experience in Lisbon even more worthwhile than expected.

But do not get me wrong. Not all the exciting experiences have been work-related. In the process of growing closer to my friends, or more like my family away from home, I have gotten to know Lisbon and Portugal alongside great people. From early morning sacrifices to reach distant beaches and survive the heat in stunning settings to attending underground music events,  finding hidden corners in the city, participating in events on EU politics or even just staying in to catch up on TV series, films and gossip/complain about our issues. I would do it all over again if I would be given the chance to start over one more time. Because without the amazing friendships I have acquired since starting in March, I do not think I would have been able to keep going on. So this testimony is also for you great people. I love you so much!

Now it is time for me to start preparing the end of my stay in Lisbon, squeeze in a few more day trips, finish my personal projects and spend time with those dearest to me before my next adventure in Brussels. Saying goodbye to Lisbon will definitely be a challenge for which I need to prepare myself in advance.

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