30 novembro 2020

O testemunho No. 1 da Clara (SPEAK)


My experience in Portugal started on the 30th of November. I moved from Italy for the second time in my life and headed to the sunny Lisbon. This was not my first time in the Portuguese capital, but I have to admit that I fall in love once again with this magical city and that I couldn’t be happier. 

This year I will be volunteering in SPEAK, an organisation which brings together newcomers and locals living in the same city through community-led language groups and cultural exchange events. Working within an international community and being engaged in an important mission such as integration and inclusion is motivating and inspiring at the same time. I started working only three weeks ago, but I already had the chance to be involved and I got tasks that will surely help me in developing new skills. 

Nevertheless, doing an ESC also means to be in contact with other volunteers. In the latest weeks, we had the chance to hang out together and discover the city. I found out new spots I have never been to, such as Jardim do Torel, Parque Eduardo and Feira da Ladra. Despite the restrictions introduced by the Portuguese government we still can go for walks and meet people. Thus, I am ready to discover a new place and I am looking forward to the next months.  

27 novembro 2020

O testemunho No. 2 da Veronica (Junta de Fregusia do Lumiar)


It’s alredy been 9 months that I’m living my ESC Experience in Lisbon.

So many things have happened so far.

First of all, the Covid. Like everyone else, I never expected to live in the middle of a pandemic, and even less I would have expected to face it abroad away from family and friends.

It’been a very particular time, but I can honestly say that it was a challenge that gave added value to my experience far from home. 

Autonomy, stress management (especially at the beginning of the quarantine, after only two weeks from my arrival in Lisbon), appreciating the moments spent with friends and colleagues, but especially the moments of solitude and rebuilding a routine to keep active during the days spent in home. Obviously this is not what I expected when i left for Portugal, but I am genuinely happy with the personal goals I have achieved.

Once the first wave of covid ended, during the summer I had the opportunity to travel around Portugal and visit wonderful places with my fellow travelers, as well as fantastic friends that I met thanks to the volunteer work in SPIN associação. We have traveled a lot and have seen incredible places and landscapes .. Alentejo, Algarve, Madeira, the North of Portugal. I have in my mind so many images and memories that I already know that I will always carry with me.

In September, I finally effectively started the volunteering as educator at Quintas dos Frades primary school, in Lumiar, and a new chapter of my adventure in Lisbon has begun.

I am very happy to be part of this team of colleagues who are very passionate in their work, who have welcomed me very warmly and enthusiastically.

Working with children is really stimulating. It is proving to be a "gym", both from a human aspect (it’s not always easy to relate to children, especially at first, not speaking the same language) and also from a cultural and linguistic aspect. Day after day I am improving my Portuguese, and all this just pushes me to speak the language and improve it even more.

There are 3 months left to finish my project, but I feel I still have many experiences and new people ahead of me to meet.

25 novembro 2020

O testemunho No. 2 da Polina (SPEAK)


Hello, everyone! 

I wanted to tell you about my summer in Lisbon. It feels like it’s still summer even though it’s November. My summer was very hot and full of different events. I had a chance to travel a bit in Portugal, which was amazing. I visited Braga, Guimarães, Aveiro, Porto, and Coimbra. One time we went to Porto for he weekend with other volunteers and had a lot of fun.

I also got a lot of new interesting tasks at SPEAK. I helped with Portuguese lessons for minor refugees. It was the first time in my life I worked in Red Cross and I had a lot of fun during Portuguese sessions. Children were very friendly and respectful, interested in Portuguese and happy to see new people. 

I was also been given more responsibilities in SPEAK. Now I make a training for new ambassadors and it’s a very nice tasks to meet new people, motivate them and be closer to the community. 


24 novembro 2020

O testemunho no 1. da Melissa (JFC - Culture)

I am Melissa, a 23 year old German girl and as of November 2020 officially one of the lucky volunteers in Lisbon!

I already lived in Lisbon in 2018/2019 and I completely fell in love with the city. For me, taking part in a volunteering program was a way of giving back to the city and the community that brought so much joy to me.

I arrived one week before the first meeting with the other (lovely!) volunteers and staff, and so I had some time to see old friends again, visit my favourite spots of downtown Lisbon and most of all: enjoy the view! Of course I noticed that the streets looked emptier than before, because the ongoing pandemic keeps tourists stuck in their home countries. However, the bright atmosphere of the city still gets me every time.

After moving in to my flat and starting to feel home again, Spin hosted the welcoming day at their office! Together with the other volunteers, we shared an absolutely delicious vegan meal prepared by Spin, shared our ideas and expectations, and challenged each other in a team rally around the neighbourhood of Bairro Padre Cruz. Giulia provided us with all the information we could have needed and all in all I really enjoyed this warm hearted welcome at Spin!

On Wednesday, 11th of November, I had my first day of work at Biblioteca Natália Correia. Giulia met me at the entrance of the library to introduce me to my new colleagues. We were welcomed by Rosário Cotrim, my new boss which whom we would go on to share a nice talk and many laughs. After she showed us around in the library, I decided to stay until closing time to spend my first day at the library. Due to the pandemic, the library is only open to the public for three and a half hours per day and social projects are mostly on hold. Nevertheless, I really enjoy going to work everyday, to share thoughts, many many laughters and my first Portuguese sentences with my colleagues.

After roughly two weeks into this new life, I can say that I am looking forward more than ever to the upcoming months. To everything that me and my team at work will achieve and to every drink shared over a good view with my new volunteer friends!


18 novembro 2020

O testemunho No 1 da Ana (Spin Association)

My name is Ana. I’m 27 years old, I’m Portuguese and living in France for a few years now. I started my ESC with Spin in November.

To start this testimony, I would say that I’m in a different situation compared to other volunteers as it’s not my first time in this country and I know people here. I’ve an older sister living near Costa da Caparica so when I first arrived I spent some time with her and started to visit Lisbon. Even if I’m a native, from Vila do Conde (north of Porto) I don’t know a lot of places here so for me Lisbon it’s a whole new world.

As a big city and capital of Portugal, Lisbon still has some traditional neighbourhoods that enchanted me like these small doors which are a little higher than me. There’s so much to do that I just wake up and walk around the whole day. That’s my favorite part here, as a walking lover, to discover every single street in the center. 

On Friday we had our welcome day at Spin with all the new volunteers. After having all the information needed for our stay during this year we had a beautiful asian based meal made by Spin’s volunteers. It was beautifully delicious and we could do an ActionBound activity in small groups to know more about Bairro Padre Cruz (it’s where Spin’s office is located) and allowed us to meet each other a bit more.

On monday we went to Spin’s office to get familiar with the hostel and learn more about our work there. We still don’t know all the team as we are doing “tele-trabalho” (work from home) because of the pandemic situation. But I can’t wait to meet everyone in the next few days and work with them. 

Lisbon is really exciting as a city to live and discover, and I’m looking forward to getting through this experience! 

17 novembro 2020

O testemunho No. 3 do Michele (Spin Association)

And here we are.

The last days in Lisbon.

My Last Dance.

It’s hard to look at my back and evaluate my months and my life here.

It’s a huge combination of feelings, emotions, happy times (a lot), bad moments (luckly few), plenty of new people and things that I done.

But let’s try.

It looks so far away when I arrived here, the 29 of February. It looks like it was 3 years ago, but it was “only” 9 moths ago.

I know that I had hard times (for example during the quarantine, when I saw my closest friends leave, and also now).

And I know that I had a lot of beautiful moments (all the people that I met, my trip in Porto, the trip with my lovely friends in Alentejo and Algarve, the Spin lunches and welcome days).

But I really love all these moments, sad or happy, in the same way. I really think that all these pieces of my life helped me to become the person that I am right now. I know that probably the bad moments helped me even more, and that’s why I never tried to avoid the sadness but embrace it. So I want to say thanks to my sad and happy moments, because I wouldn’t be proud of myself without you.

The happy moments were most of the time with my friends here, that became my second family. I really love each of the people that I met here in different ways but I’m really glad to met all of them. They also were a crucial point of my experience here, because I know new places with them, new people, I did new and different things, I knew them every time a little bit more and I discovered knew things also about myself. Thank you for existing and to be such great people and friends.

Worked for Spin it was one of the best thing that could happened in my life. I found a group of really extraordinary people, always available, polite, sweet, smart, sensitive and especially during a pandemic situation, supportive. I will keep you all in my heart.

I also need to say thanks to Lisbon. An amazing city with amazing and crazy people that is always ready to surprise you. A city where you can see 300 sunsets form the same Miradouro, but each of them will be somehow different and where I enjoyed the view every time in a different way.

I choose this city without knowing it because I felt that there was a strange connection, it was appealing, and now I can say that it was true. A city that became my second home, and it will be forever. Thank you.

But now I’m feeling that it’s time to go home. To reconnect with my other family and my other friends. I need to do it for myself, to close this circle, to do the last steps that I need.

It will not be easy to go home and to stay in Italy at the beginning. I already know it. I’m already missing so much this city and all the people that I met in the way. It will not be easy as it’s not easy to say goodbye to everything that I have here.

But it’s part of the life.

It’s part of the ESC experience.

But above all, it’s not a “goodbye”.

And probably it’s not a “see you soon”.

It’s a Never Ending Story.

My Never Ending Story.

16 novembro 2020

O testemunho no. 1 do Victorien (Spin Association)


I arrived on Friday the 30th of October in Lisbon, leaving France the first day of a new national lockdown. It gives an idea of the global context. And so, here I am, escaping France to the sunny and free Lisbon.

Firstly, I spend three days visiting a lot of Lisbon. I have been to the mains districts such as Chiado, Alfama, Bairro Alto, monuments such as The Castelo de São Jorge and Jerónimos Monastery. On the other hand, I wanted to visit less touristic districts like Ajuda and Almada on this other side of the Tagus. The idea was to spend those first days in place where I may haven’t reason to go once in my daily life in Lisbon.

The most impressive aspect of these days is the feeling of being in a city less populated than usual. While speaking with locals, flatmates and expats living here for a moment, I understood the pandemic has stopped mass tourism and we can see it directly. According to the opinions I heard, it’s a previously unseen situation. In some points, it has positive consequences because of the saturation of the infrastructures and city centre when tourism was at its peak. However, most of the feedbacks I heard were sadly impacted by this sensation of not seeing Lisbon as much buzzling and exciting as before.

I can’t say that much because I have no way to compare. However, as far as I am concerned, I really enjoyed the vibe of the city, built between mountains and the Tagus. This special environment gives to the city an amazing and unique soul. From France, the rhythm looks slower and more peaceful what I love. The first days were the the opportunity to try different dishes, specially fishes but also cheese and wine which I really enjoyed.

I set up in the flat proposed by SPIN, situated in Anjos, a lively and multicultural district, away from touristic neighbourhoods. Anjos looks like really authentic. I am sharing flat the with four flatmates: Marco & Elena from Italy, Angel from Spain and Nabil from Morocco. The three first quotes were former volunteers from SPIN who decided to stay in Lisbon while Nabil is doing his ESC program in street football centre at Bairro Padre Cruz. Seeing that the former volunteers were staying here is pretty positive and promising 😉.

I had a warm welcome and we had dinner together on first Friday and Saturday. On the first Saturday, Marco proposed me to visit the Coleção Berardo Museum which is fantastic and then we could try the famous Pasteis de Belem. A place well-known for making the “best” pasteis de nata. Usually, overcrowded, the place was finally really accessible because of Covid-19.

I also had the opportunity to meet all the new volunteers in SPIN and in the different associations linked to SPIN such as Viver Telheiras, SPEAK and SPEM during a welcome day. Also, were present four volunteers from SPIN (where I do my volunteering program). This welcome day is a chance to all get to know a bit better with a presentation of the staff, a delicious lunch made by the SPIN volunteers and a presentation of each new volunteer. Such a brilliant way to start the program.

What I am really impressed by is all the efforts and organisation made by SPIN for make yourself comfortable. The association seems really involved in your first days and strongly want to meet everybody progressively. It could be stressful and anxious to move to a new city where you don’t know anybody or don’t speak the language and SPIN is making everything possible to reassure you. 


02 novembro 2020

O testemunho No. 3 da Valentina (Viver Telheiras)


October gave me a lot of reflection time. Having just celebrated the end of our mini festival Telheiras em Movimento, dedicated to the promotion of sustainability in our neighbourhood, with guided bike rides, expositions, open air movie screenings, debates, a flea market and various artistic events and displays, the beginning of the month came with the realisation that I will soon leave Lisbon, my project and my friends behind. 

In the months since my last update, I have started helping in a food waste reduction cooperative, designed posts for our Instagram account (@vivertelheiras), participated in working meetings in preparation of our festival and learned more about sustainable urban projects through webinars facilitated by the Municipalities in Transition Network.

Having lived a year in Lisbon, I feel grateful for all the experiences I've had, the people it brought into my life and the ways in which I've been changed. Learning you are able to build a life elsewhere (navigate different administrative, health, housing systems, improving your Portuguese language skills and being immersed into various working environments) is gratifying. I continue to feel thankful to the people of Viver Telheiras and Parceria Local de Telheiras for having welcomed me so warmly and given me this many opportunities to learn and get involved. I will continue to follow their work from afar, and hope to reunite some time in the future.

Este tempo fortaleceu-me, rodeou-me de pessoas boas e cheias de vida e sabedoria, deu nuancas aos meus conhecimentos, encheu-me de duvidas e da certeza que conheco menos do que pensava. Que e sempre bom relembrar. Ate aproxima!