30 março 2021

O testemunho no. 1 da Cristina (SPEA)

Hello everyone, I am Cristina, a girl from Salamanca, Spain, who started her ESC volunteering on the 1st of December 2020, the last Spin's volunteer of the year. 

Since I arrived, I have been very well received by the rest of the volunteers, especially by my flatmates, together with whom I have been meeting and discovering new people and places, and all of them were amazing. I am very happy because, despite of COVID, I’m still feeling that we have done a lot of cool things and plans. 

Regarding my project, I am a volunteer at SPEA (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves) in the Department of Terrestrial Conservation, but also collaborating with the Department of environmental education and the maritime one. 

I feel very lucky to have this great opportunity, because I know that I’m going to learn and enjoy a lot. And I think that SPEA's work is essential, because environmental conservation cannot be worked on isolated. Society's support is needed so this effort and work are not in vain. Therefore, it is essential to educate and raise awareness to create the interdisciplinary environmental revolution that World needs.


Apart from my main Project here, I am also doing other activities to continue learning and growing in a personal way, like the Portuguese classes organized by Spin, some online courses, painting, or groups with local people, as my new Batucada's group: '' Nice Groove ''; which I could not miss in my Lisbon experience this year (because all the previous times that I have been in Lisbon were with my batucada group from Salamanca "Blocco Charro").

Because all of this, although we started the year with another lock down, I still have a lot of desire and energy to be able to carry out all the events, activities and good times that await me this year. 

I'll keep telling you in few months! 

Beijinhos, Cristina.

23 março 2021

O testemunho final da Polina (SPEAK)

Time flies and it is already the end of my ESC project.

It’s time to evaluate my experience. I spent a year in Lisbon, and I fell in love with this city, its spirit, people who live here. I couldn’t imagine a better experience in all the given circumstances. I met so many people who became my friends, and I am sure that we will continue speaking and meeting each other in different places of the world. 

This year I learned so much about myself, and I think it’s one of the most precious gifts ESC can give to a person. I learned how many things we actually can choose for ourselves, how many things depend only on us. I learned a lot about independence and friendship, about different cultures and people, about inside and outside freedom. 

I am not sad to say goodbye to this time because this experience is not going anywhere. We became somehow a part of it, and it became a part of us. 


19 março 2021

O testemunho final da Kerim (SPIN)

Heyy, what’s cracking y’all? Kerim a.k.a. KC got the mic to throw a free-style testimony.  

 It has been almost 11 months since I have started rolling as an ESC volunteer at Spin association. It was a bit hard to get used to life in Portugal because the starting date of my project crossed with the spread of Covid-19 in Europe and that was a lil bit whack. After a while, I started clicking anyway because of the friendly people in my host organization and the sunny weather in Portugal. It was a life-changing experience through hard, tight and a’right moments that I could have never imagined to have had  before coming to Portugal.

Despite the fact that I wasn’t been able to go to the office and collaborate with my teammates closely, I have always tried to do my best as an ESC volunteer. I spent such a tremendous effort to manage Spin’s Instagram account. It was challenging but in the end, I felt that my sweat drops paid off completely because I learned a lot about preparing useful content for promoting youthwork. 

     I enjoyed and experienced greatly through interacting with people from different cultures. One of the biggest moments I have ever had in Portugal was meeting with one of the greatest artists and the rising star of Portugal called “Bruno Reis”. His unique creativity and vision about transforming the music into another whole dimension of art during his show made a huge impact on the audience including me and my company M to the I, R, I who had the most rejoice among the fans.

     Besides, another markable fact was about the fishermen in Portugal because when I looked at those guys, I could clearly see that no matter what kind of physical difficulties they face with, the attitude was always simple “never give up, never surrender”. I felt the enlightenment and relief through watching them because it was inspirational. I know that people go to Portugal to see natural beauties and amazing Portuguese culture including delicious cuisine with dishes such as Bacalllhau and Francesinha but It also worths seeing the harmony between nature and fisherman based on my experience. More than that, I will be always missing to watch the amazing sunset in Lisbon with my half-eaten cheeseburgers and a couple of candies while spinning some rhymes by the inspiration I got through the vibe. 

Long story short, during the time I have spent in Portugal, I have become more aware of social obstacles and the importance of intercultural integration. ESC is a kinda program that everyone should participate especially after getting graduated from the university because I believe that it is quite important to experience giving to the community without receiving a considerable amount of money. Coming to Portugal as an ESC volunteer was one of the tightest decision I have ever made in my whole life. The last but not the least, I wanna say thanks to my unofficial mentor J-Roc who helped me go through the hard times in Lisbon. I am also thankful to Erasmus+ program and Spin Association for giving me that opportunity to widen my vision about life and people. 

Let me say goodbye to y’all in my whacky style;

“blaaap shiggida erriip erriip blaap zhyeaeaa erriip shiggida erriipp sliiippp peaceeee”

18 março 2021

O testemunho no. 1 da Mikk (SPEAK)

My name is Mikk, I come from Estonia and I started my ESC with SPEAK in February 2021.

I decided to go to Lisbon because I wanted to get away from the cold and super hard-working life. I had been in school and logistics job scene at the same time for 2 years by now. This was very stressful for me. The main reason for arrival was to get a little rest and clear the mind from narrow minded mindset. To think outside the box. To be open for new possibilities.

I remember my travel day here really well. I woke up at 5am in the morning in order to reach to the Tallinn’s airport. Since it was a snowstorm outside it took a while for them to clean the wings of the plane with hot water and some foam. The plane could not take off on the right time and I was late for my transit in Frankfurt. I ran and walked really fast and used my good map locating skills to reach to the flight to Lisbon. Luckily boarding was delayed by 15 minutes so I reached it. I saw many other planes getting canceled from Germany later in the Lisbon airport. 

Finally I was in Lisbon and had to take a corona test where I waited an hour to make the test and then another 8 hours to get my results. It was late already and there were many available taxis waiting for costumers near the airport. 

The first day here already fascinated me when I got outside. I went to the supermarket and to an healthy walk. Architecture was so different from Estonian style. The streets were very clean. It was really warm and I didn’t have to wear my winter coat anymore. It still hangs on the rack till this day without it being used anymore. All in all I was really happy with the outside. 

I didn’t see my flatmates very often on the first days here because some of them were in isolation due to Covid situation. After this difficult time we were reunited and could socialise very well. The people that I am living with are all very nice and respectful. I really appreciate that. One thing that I have noticed about the flat though has been that people come and go. Only a few decide to stay for the all year. This is most likely connected with the unequal room distribution. It just doesn’t make sense to share a room with no window or a room where is no space for table and chair. Those who stay are staying mostly because of friends, patio or financial situation. For me it doesn’t matter much because I have shared worse conditions than this. On the other hand I have also lived alone in a studio apartment and I loved that one with a private kitchen and bathroom. 

Last but not least, do I miss Estonia? Well I can still be in contact with my family and friends, but I do miss some food. Mainly good sour cream/dipping sauces, the best mayonnaise, black bread made from rye (in Portugal they have the ones made from wheat), chips with flavours, dumplings and smoked salami that is also extremely good there. Sorry Chorizos from Spain and Portugal are good, but it is not the same. In Lisbon I have discovered some new recipes to cook like prawns, bacalhau. I have not tested more because I have no idea how to cook them yet. I also have ordered bitoque which was very good. I like that I can buy cactus, lichi, mango and other interesting juices here that they don’t sell in Estonia. Also the wine is really cheap so it can be used for both drinking and cooking. And last but not least, the very good thing about Lisbon is that pork is so cheap and it has always been one of my favorite food to cook. 

17 março 2021

O testemunho da Bárbara (Volunteering Now)

Chamo-me Bárbara Gomes e estou a voluntariar na Irlanda do Norte. 

O meu trabalho passa normalmente por horas ao computador em reunião com a equipa, ou com programas de ação social (e sendo com menores não posso divulgar). No entanto, esta semana ajudamos o grupo a compor o vídeo que irá sair de um dos grupos, sobre o qual envio a seguinte captura de ecrã: 

Este voluntariado não segue nada de acordo com os planos, mas encontrei um equilíbrio que possibilita mudar os planos. Se por um lado o meu trabalho digital diminuiu pelo atraso de eventos, durante estes novos meses os centros de vacinação mantêm os voluntários ocupados e aliviados por finalmente sermos úteis nestes tempos.

Nos restantes intervalos de tempo, em que haver um balanço entre projetos pessoais, que esperavam por atenção há algum tempo, passeios para algum exercício físico e acompanhamento de grupos de jovens em programas de ação social. Como todos os voluntários internacionais, sinto a falta de viver e conviver, mas sermos úteis neste momento faz-nos ter esperança para o Verão.

Além disso, faço turnos de voluntariado no centro de vacinação de Ballymena, sobre o qual nao posso tirar fotos. Num projeto paralelo à minha organização, sou voluntária para a Olio, de modo a combater o desperdício alimentar - como nao tenho capacidade para recolher os alimentos, faço propaganda digital e distribuo flyers e cartas personalizadas pela minha área quando preciso sair de casa.

02 março 2021

O testemunho no. 1 da Chiara (SPEA)


Lisbon with new eyes, this was (and still is) the challenge. How can you reinvent yourself and continue to be amazed in an environment that has now become your comfort zone? How can you get out of this shell you’ve built around yourself, in a year of experience? 

These are the questions that I ask myself almost daily, but on the other hand, lead me to an awareness: I want to live an uncomfortable life, a life sometimes with edges; edges and ripples that force me to adapt, readjust, re-invent and reshape my habits according to what I have around me. That's exactly how I want my new Lisbon (Lisbon 2.0), a Lisbon that can still call me to look around, to discover, again and again, the beauty of its palaces, its boulevards and its majestic trees, its bars with the menu written in chalk, a Lisbon that doesn’t give any opportunity to "I already know it, I've already been there, it's not worth it!" but which makes my inner genuine enthusiasm grow and ready to welcome new opportunities.

I am an intense, energetic person. How to catch the fullness of things in the Covid era? How can you be satisfied with 1% of experiences when you finally are ready to accept and live them 100%?? At the same time, how can you be able to show your enthusiasm for the project, for the work, for the colleagues through a computer screen that makes things, experiences, and faces cold and sterile?

How to meet a person for the first time, though with a mask? Me, who is quite expressive, expressive, who seeks physical contact, that even a smile is able to change my mood, how can I be satisfied with knowing a person through half a masked face? Well, among all these doubts and uncertainties, at least I have the answer to one thing: I realized that to know a person, or better to recognize a person, sometimes the eyes are enough.

It is from the eyes of Vanessa and Carolina, in fact, my two tutors from SPEA, Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds, that some of my worries began to melt, I felt, in fact, taken by the hand in this challenge, that that first of all is mine, but also shared with them in a difficult, unexpected and different period such as the one we are facing.

It is also from the eyes of the children at the schools where I started giving environmental education lessons,where they asked me to speak because they wanted to listen to my funny Portuguese accent, which they consider to be of Ukrainian origin, which I get, despite everything, the desire to return to the beauty of the normality of a classroom lesson between chatting with friends and running during the break time.

* Doubts and awareness of an Italian girl in her second year and in a pandemic era in the city that smells of sun.