29 novembro 2021

O testemunho No. 1 da Cynthia (Boutique da Cultura)

Today is my 20th day in Lisbon.
I still can't believe I am here.

Everything has been going super well so far. All the people I’ve met (other volunteers, ex-volunteer, members of my association) are super nice and I am very excited about those next 9 months! 

First of all, let me introduce myself. Hi! My name Is Cynthia and I am a 24 years old girl half French/half Portuguese! 

I decided to apply to this project because I just graduated with a master's in culture and communication and I didn’t want to start working in a company 8 hours per day behind a desk, sad and without purpose. I wanted more, I wanted to have a meaningful experience, explore the world and meet new people so this project was perfect! 

I started my project in Boutique Da Cultura 2 weeks ago and it’s going super great! I already went to the theater twice with my organization, once here in Carnide and once in Albergaria-a-Vehla.

For now, I am currently working at the Oficina Local in Carnide with Raquel and Joan who are super nice, and we are doing a lot of stuff like candlesticks, jewelry, toys for our Christmas Market which will take place on the 5th and 12th of December in front of the Boutique Da Cultura (you have to come!)

When I am not working, I love to have a walk in the city just to explore, eat Pastel de Nata and watch the sunset (from a miradouro or the beach of course) with my flatmates who quickly became my second family! When I was on the plane and then the taxi to go to the apartment, I was a little nervous to meet them but when I arrived, I saw a sign at the door that said ‘’Welcome to Casa Bernardim” with a drawing of 4 girls, balloons and hearts.

I immediately felt reassured, and I knew that everything would be fine. For the first night, we all had dinner together and talked about everything, it seemed like we had always known each other! Now it's almost a tradition we have dinner together at least once a week to chat and laugh about everything. I really enjoy living in this house with those wonderful girls who had each other's back.

I am so grateful to be here and can't wait to meet other people and learn new things.

O testemunho final da Maria (SPEA)

After a year of pandemic, the whole world stopped. I was at my home looking for new opportunities, a little bit worried about the difficult situation that we were living...

One day I received an e-mail, and everything changed. One year ago, I moved to Faro (Portugal), and I started one of the best experiences I ever had. Connecting with a new country, nature, and people around the world is definitely one of the best ways for a young and adventurous person to gain perspective about life. 
From the beginning, I felt at home. Portugal is a very international country, we worked with people from different parts of the world (Poland, England, France, Australia...).

Over the last year, I have lived in close and peaceful harmony with a lot of different people, developing an intercultural close relationship between our international team.

 It was a very constructive way to develop empathy, teamwork, support each other’s and understand how important cooperation is. Due to my multilingual competencies, I can deeply understand new cultures, social and natural conflicts around the world, I discovered a wide variety of music styles and I make lovely new friends.

Since I was young, I felt admiration for the marine world. On vacation, I used to go to see dolphins and whales in the Strait of Gibraltar with my mum but until this year I didn't have yet the opportunity to take part in a marine conservation team. It is a dream that has come true. I am really motivated to discover how many people are part of environmental initiatives to improve nature around the world. 

I feel very fascinated about how many are connected with marine conservations projects, sustainable fisheries, and responsible consumers. I also learn to check better the origin and the quality of the products that I consume. I could learn how different is everything when you cross frontiers and how natural resources create international conflicts that apparently are not related to us, but our way to consume and live is directly responsible for that. So I also deeply understand how important is to be a responsible consumer. This year I had the opportunity to work on a LIFE conservation project (Life Ilhas Barreira). 

The Life program is a European funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It was very stimulating to get involved with an institution that is part of something bigger focused on nature conservation. I feel very lucky because the attitude of the others members of my “new little family” influence me in a very positive way. 

Facing new situations I discovered how strong and flexible I am and also that my role in the groups is very important because I am a very enthusiastic person and that is contagious. Thanks to my EVS experience, nowadays I feel more confident, very motivated to develop my passion for marine biology, and ready to participate in new conservation projects.

I also improved my African percussion skills and it contributed greatly to my integration into the local community. From the first week, I get in contact with a very active cultural association with a wide variety of artistic and social events that I enjoy a lot and also was a medium through which I learned about different cultures, music, history and had fun.

Also, I was very lucky to find a Bird Ringing Station, close to where I lived, located in a beautiful natural area, that give me the opportunity to disconnect from my daily activities and give me a different perspective about wildlife. I took part in a ringing group of Portuguese experts about wildlife focus on birds and I improve a lot my ringins skills, at the same time that I learn more about the country. Thanks to this lucky experience I could pass my ringing test in my country and I obtained my professional ringing license that is really important for my professional future. It is difficult to express my feelings after a year full of lovely experiences: navigate with dolphins and whales, Sleep on a desert island, monitoring wildlife, nature, lovely people, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, support nature conservation actions, learn
Portuguese.....but, definitely the people that I met were the best of the year.

I am so grateful for this amazing experience.

26 novembro 2021

O testemunho final da Leila (SPEM)

Time flies, you have to enjoy every moment, every day.
It’s probably the advice most people give when someone is having an experience abroad, or at least out of their hometown.

I tried to apply this advice every day since I arrived in Portugal. Enjoy every little thing, can be going to work, going out with friends, a coffee under the sunlight, or just on Sunday watching movies in bed.Living abroad taught me this, taking the time to enjoy valuable moments, to take time for myself and the things that matter to me. When people give the advice of “enjoy every day”, maybe they think more about going on weekend trip or going out. And it’s true, it is part of it. But it’s also about making a place that at first, you knew nothing about, home. It’s to make all the little things that were strange or incommun to you before, habits. Lisbon now is home. 

Now, it’s habit to take tremoços with my imperial, to ask for a coffee “cheio”, to see the old men of the neighborhood meeting at the end of the afternoon and seat in plastic chairs just around the corner, to spend most of my time outside, to go listen to jam session at A70 or Arroz Estudio, to eat soup as a starter at every meal, to know some of the songs of Tony Carreira by heart, to not be afraid of the hill or not to be out of breath when you arrive on top, to see trees with flowers all year long or even just to speak Portuguese. It’s also habits to complain about the buses always being late, or about the winter without heating. But there is also things we never get use too, we are always amazed, such as the orange light of the sun that makes all the city golden, the blue sky, the beautiful landscapes, and the amazing people we meet.

My experience was, in the major part, about meeting people. About making myself a new home and a new “everyday” life. I’m so grateful for what I have and what i built here. Indeed, I’m staying to live in Lisbon for a bit longer, I’m not ready to leave this life behind me. With the group of volunteers (at people that we met along the way), we created an amazing group.

It’s like family and I know that I built a friendship that will last forever. We can be separated, not be living in the same country, we will never lose each other. Maybe you create an even stronger relationship because we know that “time is flying”. My experience was also about my work. Even though I arrived in the middle of the pandemic, I had the chance to be in one of the few projects where we were still working “off-line”.

I loved my experience working in SPEM. I was sad and nostalgic to leave this work where I was finally feeling part of the team and part of the project. “Finally”, because, of course, it takes time, especially with the language barriers but also just because it takes time to enter a team and to feel comfortable. I learned a lot with the team, but also with the beneficiaries and I’m truly grateful.

Maybe I’m not a volunteer anymore, but I think I will feel like being one for still a while. It was an amazing experience that changed me and pushed me to achieve personal goals and to grow in a way that I’m happy and proud with. I would recommend to anyway to do this kind of experience, and I will. I would also recommend Lisbon of course, which completely took my heart. I’m writing this lines seated in a café in Paris, I’m there to visit friends and family. But then, I will go back home.

24 novembro 2021

O testemunho final da Lucia (Viver Telheiras)

Dear Lisbon,

I dedicate this letter to you. It's now time to say goodbye. 

It's been a year since I got off a plane with a suitcase and a backpack, ready to start my volunteering experience here. I had never set foot in Portugal before, so I wasn't sure I would have liked it. Luckily, however, it was love at first sight.

In these last 12 months, many different phases of my life have followed one another. At first, I discovered Lisbon by taking long walks through the city with other fellow volunteers, then I lived my first Christmas and New Year's out of Italy, and then also a new lockdown. Once it was possible to start moving throughout the country again, I finally dedicated myself to discovering the rest of Portugal, from Porto in the north to the Benagil caves, down near Faro, filling my eyes with breathtaking landscapes and the belly of local specialties.

My mood has also fluctuated a lot: my initial enthusiasm was crushed from the lockdown, but it slowly returned. These days I am trying to make the most of my time here, knowing that it will be difficult to say goodbye to a city that made me feel at home.

Of course, it wasn't all fun and games, but even if sometimes I felt a bit unmotivated or lost because I didn't know what to do, luckily I had the support of people who helped me tidy up my thoughts and understand what was best to do. And with these people, I also shared good and fun moments. This is indeed the most precious thing that will remain to me from this experience: the people I met here.

For these reasons, I go back to Italy with my heart full of gratitude and good memories.

Obrigadinha Lisboa, até a próxima! 


O testemunho no. 2 do Albert (JFL - Vicente)

It has been a few months since I first arrived here. Everything is constantly changing, and I like that.

Gone are those first weeks where communicating was quite complicated; my Portuguese seems to be getting better and better. I have to admit that for a native Spanish speaker it's always easier. 

My life in these months has been focused on my pleasures: I've surfed, I've taken pictures around the city and I've met a lot of people (among other things). Life in the city has changed, I arrived in the hot season with restrictions, now everything is open and it's starting to get cold. 

People who have been here for a long time say that Lisbon is regaining its color; not because of the cold, but because of the people. I couldn't say if I preferred the city as it was when I arrived, more empty. Also, the atmosphere in volunteering has changed. 

The first months were more about learning Portuguese, a lot of work to support the other colleagues. Now I lead my own activities and participate in activities not only within the school where I work but also with other entities in the same neighborhood that have a relationship with the school.

O testemunho final da Elisa (Crescer a Cores)

 E como todas as boas experiências, já cheguei ao fim sem sequer me aperceber disso.

O tempo passou muito rapidamente e devo infelizmente aceitar que esta experiência também chegou ao fim. Admito que se tivesse tido a oportunidade, teria adiado a minha partida por alguns meses. Mas o tempo passa e as coisas mudam, e as mudanças têm de ser aceites porque na maioria das vezes vêm das nossas escolhas e acções. Assim, aqui estou eu, no final deste ano, tendo tomado a minha decisão de regressar a Itália para continuar os meus estudos universitários, puramente relacionados com o trabalho que estava a fazer no Crescer in Cores.

Esta experiência estimulou-me em várias frentes, incluindo o facto de que gostaria de continuar os meus estudos no campo da educação, para melhorar a minha formação e o que posso oferecer nestes contextos de trabalho. Trabalhar numa creche durante o período da Covid não foi fácil. Trata-se de um trabalho de contacto, relações e experiências, que infelizmente foram reduzidas este ano. Isto levou-me a fazer o trabalho de uma forma mais fria e mecânica, especialmente no primeiro período da relação com os colegas. Esta relação mudou felizmente no último período, quando havia mais conhecimento e respeito mútuo. O fruto desta estima foi a liberdade que Noemi, o gerente do Crescer a Cores, me deu para fazer uma intervenção artística numa parede da estrutura onde se encontra a creche. Partindo do seu desejo de reproduzir uma obra de Kandinsky, decidimos reelaborá-la para a diferenciar e adaptá-la à superfície escolhida.

Por isso, fiz um projeto, que me agradou, e depois passei a pô-lo em prática na parede. Não foi fácil de fazer em tão grande escala, mas graças à confiança de Noemi, tive a confiança para o terminar sem medo de cometer erros. Todo o esforço e empenho que pus este ano foi bem recompensado no último dia, quando todos os meus colegas e as crianças do jardim de infância se aproximaram de mim para tirar uma foto de grupo para um último adeus. As lágrimas eram inevitáveis, e foi sempre com lágrimas nos olhos que me despedi de Lisboa e de algumas pessoas maravilhosas, que mal pude deixar, excepto com a promessa de nos voltarmos a ver em breve.

23 novembro 2021

O testemunho No. 1 da Kristina (SPIN)


Hey everyone,

I came from Ukraine 3 weeks ago, and now I’m enjoying Lisbon. First of all, it’s very nice to run away from cold weather and explore the city and a new life under the shining sun. But as it’s not my first time here, I stay more at home working on my project. Or maybe I am just that type of indoor person, because last time I also didn’t explore much, hoping that I’d have more time in Summer, but COVID started, and I had to leave. *So, friendly advice, try to see as much as you can on the first days! 

Preparations to come here took really much time. I’ve waited for my contract for more than a month, and I was afraid that it wouldn’t happen. But everything went out perfectly, and I’m here, without a visa, but it’s also in the process now, so let’s hope.

As well, I was afraid of living with another person in the same room, but she moved the next day I came And now I’m living alone and going to switch houses because I find a better one.
But let’s forget about non-pleasant and unstable stuff and move to good ones.  

People here are amazing!!! All volunteers I’ve met are so friendly and always ready to help in whatever situations. I even meet my "Estonian cousin" Teele, who lives in the next apartment and appeared to have relatives in Ukraine. Every week we have at least one social event to get together to discuss our lives and just have fun. My project coordinators as well do their best job explaining our tasks, trying to help us achieve our goals, and just being our psychologist at some points And as I moved to Portugal for these 9 months let’s talk more about my perception of people, their mindset, infrastructure, and all differences. 

Firstly, I still can’t get used to two kisses every time you meet someone. I do like it, but just it’s so unusual for me. The thing that I like the most here is cutie pink houses, as it is my fav color I’m always super excited when I see them and here I see them a lot, so they help me be positive all the time. But the thing that I hate about houses here is that they don’t have a central heating system here and despite great weather outside it’s freaking cold inside And I think that’s all for my first testimony, that was my most powerful impression of these days.

See you soon, kisses!

01 novembro 2021

O testemunho final da Clara (SPEAK)

 “Tu nunca seria quem és hoje se nao tivesses passado pelo que passaste”.

There are many things that this ESC year taught me, and this is one of them: “You would never be who you are today if you had not gone through what you went through”.

Tomorrow I will celebrate my first year in Portugal and I will start a new chapter of my life. 

This year has been ‘intense’. There are many adjectives and nouns I could use to describe it but I believe that one of the words I would first use is “grateful”. I am grateful for what I have been living, for the possibility I was given, for the new experiences, for the new “family” and for much more. I am also grateful because I learned how to be grateful for every single day I lived here. 

Looking back I see a year full of new adventures.

Thanks to the ESC project I met so many people. Lisbon is a lively city and getting new friends is definitely not a “big deal”, but finding a “family” was surprising. Co-living with other volunteers was the key to getting to know people that I know will be part of my life forever. 

Meeting new volunteers from SPIN and from other organizations and understanding how similar and how much we share even if we are from different countries, that was incredible! I shared many good moments with all of them and I will bring all those memories with me.

SPEAK has played an important role in my life here. SPEAK has not only been my hosting organization, it was and it is a family to me. I learned a lot and developed new skills, but most of all I grew a lot. After all these months working for them, I am really motivated to keep having SPEAK in my life. I believe this project should spread more around the globe and that more people could access it. Also, I learned what it means to work for a social business and now more than ever I believe that I would like to spend many more years of my life dedicating time to projects like this one. 

Summing up, Portugal gave me a lot. I discovered a lot about myself. I had the possibility to start over and to make this place my new home. Every experience I had left me something I will never forget. I simply fell in love with this city. I love it so much that I decided to stay here. Portugal 2.0 is coming and I am looking forward to it! 

As they would say here: Boa sorte Clarinha!