10 outubro 2019

O testemunho da Romane

If you ever had this little voice telling you to go away, don’t shut it down. I think I’ve had it my whole life, almost. As much as I am unconfident, I was sure of one thing: I wanted to go away. I couldn’t stand growing and staying in that same small town. Sometimes I wondered who the hell I thought I was to have such hopes and pretention. As if a shy girl like me, coming from a city that small, could do such thing. Really, who the hell did I thought I was? Well. Let me tell you this: do not listen to your own voice trying to put you down and fly away. Give it a chance, trust you, and set you free.

Everyone has a different background story with EVS. I’m part of the people who looked for a long time for a project. There could have been many, many other roads I would have taken, but I ended up here, in Lisbon. When my project started, I quickly switched from “why the hell am I doing this, again?” to “This is where I was supposed to be.” And after one year, I can tell I am still sure of it. Between everything, everywhere I could have been, this was the best.

I chose to volunteer at Boutique da Cultura in order to immerse myself in the cultural field and learn more about it. I’ve learnt much more than that. It was the perfect place. I’ve helped set up a stage and I played a librarian surrounded by strange magical animals in an enchanted world for two months. I’ve been managing a book store with my colleagues and I published a book, from the proofreading to the cover. I’ve been on festivals to sell the artists’ creation of Boutique and I learnt how to design a logo. I discovered a lot of things and had fun all the way. But what made this project truly amazing was the community of Boutique da Cultura. I have never seen such a tight and close group of people in any workplace or even association. Thanks to all the people there, the Incubadora de Artes is a place of joy and faith, where people support and help each other. I know that Boutique da Cultura is one unique place and I will never find a workplace like this. The trust and the kindness I received through all the year is one thing I will never forget. For this, muito obrigada a Boutique da Cultura.

Besides the project, EVS is a crazy, busy, incredible journey. I thought my life was busy in Paris, well, it was nothing to be compared to EVS life! First of all, travelling to Lisbon was not the last trip. My first adventure was when I crossed the river and went to Almada, I never thought I’d take a boat this year but soon it became almost a habit to visit my friends over there. I explored the coast of this side, I’ve been to Costa da Caparica, Seixal, Setubal, Troia, Praia da Figueirinha. I will miss a lot this part of Portugal where I’ve spent most of my summer. The beaches in this country are always breathtaking and one of my best memory takes place in Ferragudo, near Portimão, when I was lying on the sand, in front of the sea in a cave, watching the sunset. It was a calm and simple moment but it’s still there in me. Peaceful is one adjective that can apply to many of my most incredible experiences here. EVS gave me so many moments of serenity I will treasure. But it was also a lot of fun! Porto, Madeira and Figueira da Foz were incredible places I had the chance to visit and just thinking of it brings back all the cheerful moments I shared there with volunteers. EVS gives you the opportunity to travel more than you can think and really, never hesitate and go, those moments of freedom and joy are the ones that will remain.

Taking the boat was one surprising thing, but it was something I knew. However, what made this year this awesome was also all the little and new things I experienced in the daily life. Doing theatre in Portuguese on 10,5cm heels was certainly one of the most striking thing I lived at the beginning but it was far from being the last! I learnt how to surf and this was some of my childhood dream, coming from the seaside. The times I spent at Costa da Caparica are by far some of the best, it’s that magical place where you go and everything is fine because all that matter is you, living, in that very moment – which is a feeling I actually felt a lot during EVS. Very often, it happened with music, was it when I tried to play handpan surrounded by nature on the terrace of friends or when I’ve been for the first time to a real music festival, from day to night, ending up lying in front of the beach (again, yeah, EVS in Lisbon will always lead you to beaches). I also discovered the Portuguese-Brazilian music – and even weird international funny bands. Music events in Lisbon are countless and going to jam session became just a classic Wednesday night, as well as Outjazz festival on Sundays. On most unusual things, I scented a very surprising cinnamon tree and admired an incredible tree that was, I swear, gold. I've seen storks flying for the first time in my life – and it was beautiful – and I heard for the first time as well the birdsong of the peacock – it was not that beautiful. I spent nights trying to figure out some silly tricky games learnt during trainings – and now I got it, it’s my turn to trick people with it too, sorry.

I learnt Portuguese, mixed it with Italian, but I also discovered Armenian, memorized bad words in Dutch, tried to say few sentences in Polish and even learnt some things in some rare languages I will never use again in my life. I shared dinners and cooking recipes, tried new food from different countries. I have been in the mud, watching Portuguese people taking out some crustacean with the help of salt. I danced and I drew and I can swear I don’t know how to do any of these, but still I enjoyed it, and this is a first. All these little things, altogether, fulfilled my year. At the moment it might not have seen special but now I left, I remember all of it and it’s what made this EVS life a life of great new experiences and the most rich, intense and joyful year of my life so far. Some of it became soon part of my habits and made Lisbon a home for me and a place I’ll never forget. I never felt this alive than in this crazy year.

Mostly, EVS is crazy thanks to all the incredible people you meet. First of all, I never met that many people in my life! And the more people you meet… The smallest the world becomes, actually. Especially in Lisbon. You meet someone out of nowhere and you can be sure you’re somehow connected to that volunteer with other volunteers. It’s a funny thing that, always, always happen. I met volunteers out of EVS groups and discovered that they were friends with that other person I just met two days ago and who’s also a friend of a friend of mine. You can even meet people connected to people you know in your home country and that is absolutely mind blowing but… Almost normal in EVS, I might say. All this craziness of people can be overwhelming at the beginning but soon these people become your circle and you find your place. It’s where you belong. I was afraid of not meeting anyone I would go along with but one thing I learnt during this year is that you always find your people. Don’t fear that. No matter where you go, even if that’s just one or two people, you will find someone to get along with. I met many amazing people there and all the fantastic stories we shared are such an inspiration. Might have it been just one night of talking, some of the experiences I heard will grow on me and I’ve learnt a lot through it. I am so grateful for all the kindness, the energy, laughs, experiences I shared and had there with everyone I met. I am more confident to meet people and it gave me an inestimable faith. So, to every people I met here, thank you so, so much. You made this year incredibly special and it gives me the strength to go further. Hopefully, we’ll meet again.

So, don’t fear to go. If there’s one thing you must fear when going abroad, it’s to go back, that’s the real struggle. But for now, if there’s ever this little voice whispering to you to fly away, listen to it. I swear it’s that one life experience you’ve been waiting for.

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