26 junho 2022

O testemunho No. 2 da Amr (SPIN)

Olá a todos

It is my second attempt to describe my experience here in Portugal, it's been seven months for me as a volunteer at Spin Association, my hosting and coordinating organization, 7 months that passed in the blink of an eye, I came as a stranger and gradually grew a big family, and as I come closer to the end of the project the family grows bigger and stronger.

My role at spin is about the overall organization and logistical practicalities and I'm part of that team, my tasks can be diverse like receiving and posting testimonies of volunteers whose coordinating organization is Spin, as well as collecting, verifying and handling travel documents of volunteers in order for them to be reimbursed, one of the tasks that I occasionally do is going to schools and talking to youngsters, it can also be cooking, cleaning and tidying up at the office, and so the tasks at Spin office aren't as complicated as I thought, it was rather simple and straightforward even though it would be a little challenging, at some point there's period of time when we're up to the neck in work and that's usually associated with projects and youth exchanges on which occasions we host up to 30 participants from different countries that we would feel it's a pinnacle achievement of sorts by the time it finishes, but this is also very rewarding and interesting in some sense because it always involves different languages, different backgrounds and experiences, different forms of cultures that are co-existing in the same community, and we as volunteers and coordinators have the responsibility of maintaining order in The hostel and in the office, which means that part of the team is focused on cleaning, buying food and other necessities, cooking and setting tables, while the other team is focused on the doing the activities and the dynamics, the goals and the main ideas of the project.

On the 4th of May I Started another experience; the on-arrival training that I had in Visue for 6 days, it was such an extraordinarily pleasant experience where I learned, and also had a lot of fun with a nice group of volunteers and all the emotions, thoughts, activities and cultural visits we had and little things that individuals had to offered each other from their own culture and also from the main goals and objectives of their own association that was dissimilar from others but also similar in some sense because we all had different projects under the same volunteering umbrella, I learned a lot from the activities that highlighted how it is to be a volunteer at European solidarity corps, what would we gain being volunteers and also about the rights and the responsibilities of volunteers. the last day was somewhat sad that this remarkable week was over, but that was also something positive for it meant that we lived it to the fullest.

 Life in Portugal for me has been so enriching so far, but it seems to me that even though I live in Portugal, I live in multinational/ European community which is part of the reason why I didn't do my best at learning Portuguese up to this point, but it is true that it is so enriching, there is a lot of things you can do out there, I'm grateful for having the chance to live and integrate into the Portuguese culture, Portuguese life style, the traditional musical style of Portuguese songs that I usually listen to in different occasions, the streets and the different transportation including the Tram which is one of the cultural icons of Portugal, but of course I'm also grateful for the wonderful Portuguese people that I work with, I learned a lot being here and it's another feeling to manifest in my own behavior some of the elements of another culture. it was only until recently that I knew about a couple of festivals which also brought me closer to the ambience of living Portugal such as carnival, Festas de Santo António, and Festa de São João and others.

What I enjoyed in Portugal, It's the little things, the things we repeat every day, things that people tend to think of as mundane and trivial, but it simplifies something bigger, it's the accumulation of little small talks, little moments of laughter with friends, it's when some friends look for some sense of humor, the moment we were being nice to one another, the moments I went to the park or Miradoures or beaches or had dinner or lunch with my flatmates and people whom I cherish, it's the moments I helped or was helped by someone, all these little moments across a period of time is all that makes us miss these days by the time it all comes to an end. it's all been so appealing to me in some sense, it was only until recently that I could experience lots of changes in the weather just during one day. sunny, cloudy, rainy, windy, hot, or cold, which is a little crazy because this is something that only happens over the course of several days in my country.

There's a Portuguese saying I like that goes “
Há males que vêm para o bem”, which is like “every cloud has a silver lining“. of course, there's always been many unpleasant moments and tribulations along the way, and of course, I think it is a silly naïve claim as far as I'm concerned to say that everything was perfect for me and I was all happy all the time, it's more likely that every one of us encounters appalling moments in a way or another, but I also consider them as blessings because they are a way in which I learn, there's unveiling that happens and good knowledge comes out of undesirable moments, and so, it's always associated with some good and I try to keep myself oriented in that direction.

até próxima


17 junho 2022

O testemunho da M. Inês (Associação Nea Guinea) (Grécia)

Olá a todos, Desta vez queria contar-vos uma história diferente, uma história sobre voluntariado CES, mas desta vez enviado pela Spin, no distante 2019.

O meu nome é Inês e em 2019 decidi candidatar-me ao uma vaga de voluntariado CES, de curta duração na Grécia de março a maio de 2019. Esta foi uma decisão bastante precipitada, admito, sem qualquer planeamento. Mas sim por vezes tempo de arriscar… e lá estava eu. Fui escolhida para desenvolver o meu projecto de 2 meses, chamado Sustainable Synergies, um projecto que ainda hoje a Spin seleciona voluntários. 

Assim, em 5 dias mudei-me para uma pequena cidade na periferia de Atenas, chamada Nea Makri, para ir trabalhar numa quinta de permacultura desenvolvida pela associação Nea Guinea. Mas antes de continuar, julgo que seja importante explicar o que é permacultura. A permacultura é mais do que a agricultura biológica, é uma agricultura que procura dar harmonia aos ecossistemas, de forma que estes também possam crescer de forma equilibrada.

É um conceito bastante complexo de explicar, mas que deveria ser visto como uma alterativa. As minhas tarefas foram bastante simples: tarefas básicas de gestão de uma horta, arrancar ervas, plantar, todo o tipo de tarefas normais de primavera. Porém surgiu algo que eu não esperava, pois tive a oportunidade de ajudar numa formação de permacultura desenvolvida num campo de refugiados. Esta experiência foi a mais enriquecedora, pois durante o meu trabalho na horta, muita das vezes não tinha contacto com ninguém. Aí consegui conhecer algumas pessoas, assim como ouvir algumas histórias. Aqueles dias ajudaram-me a mudar um pouco a minha perspectiva de vida.

É impossível esquecer aqueles dias: consegui rever amigos, conhecer novos locais, desde Kastoria no norte junto da fronteira com a Albânia, até a Creta, aprender grego, e acima de tudo, aprender muito sobre mim mesma. Passei muito tempo sozinha, em ferries, autocarros e comboios, e isso fez-me refletir sobre a minha vida e o caminho a seguir. Comi imenso, e engordei, o que sempre achei que fosse difícil. Atenas como cidade tem uma energia fantástica, não é bela, não é limpa, mas tem personalidade. Qualquer esquina tem uma história para contar e apesar do caos normal da cidade, é esta que nos tem de escolher, e nós não podemos opinar. De toda esta experiência só me arrependo de uma coisa: não ter ficado mais tempo, e por não ter deixado um pedaço maior de mim em Atenas.

This time I would like to tell you a different story, a story about CES volunteering, but this time one with Spin as sending organization. My name is Inês and in 2019 I decided to apply for a Short Volunteering vacancy in Greece from March to May 2019. This was a very hasty decision, I admit, without any planning. But sometimes we must risk… and there I was. I got chosen to develop my 2 months project, called Sustainable Synergies, a project that Spin still selects volunteers every year.

So, in 5 days I moved to a small town on the outskirts of Athens, called Nea Makri, to go to work in a permaculture farm developed by the Nea Guinea Association. But before continuing, I think it is important to explain what permaculture is. Permaculture is more than biological agriculture, it is an agriculture that seeks to give harmony to ecosystems, so that they can also grow in a balanced way. It is a very complex concept to explain, but it should be seen as an alternative. My tasks were quite simple: basic garden management tasks, weeding, planting, all kinds of normal spring tasks. But something arose that I did not expect, because I had the opportunity to help with a permaculture course developed in a refugee camp. This experience was the most enriching, because during my work in the farm, I often had no contact with anyone. Then I was able to meet some people, as well as to hear some stories.

Those days helped me change my life perspective a little. It is impossible to forget those days: I was able to meet friends; to go to new places, from Kastoria in the north near Albania, until Crete; to learn Greek, and above all, to learn a lot about myself. I spent a lot of time alone, in ferries, buses and trains, and that made me reflect on my life and the way to follow. I ate a lot, and I gained weight, which I always thought it was difficult. Athens as a city has a fantastic energy, not beautiful, not clean, but it has personality. Any corner has a story to tell and despite the normal chaos of the city, it is Athens that choses you, not the other way around. From all this experience I just regret one thing: I didn't stay longer, therefore I didn’t manage to leave a larger piece of me in Athens.

até próxima

16 junho 2022

O testemunho No. 2 da Cynthia (Boutique da Cultura)


"Olà todos !

Already halfway through my volunteering program with Boutique da Cultura, only 3 months left and I don’t want it to end, My journey with this association started 6 months ago, in November and I already learn so much, about me, about what I love to do but also what I hate. This  experience has been so enriching so far and I hate the feeling I get when I think about the end.

Working as a volunteer with Boutique da Cultura mean having the opportunity to see some theater plays (for free) and to participate in a lot of artistic and sustainable workshop and meet a lot of different people though that. It also mean having the opportunity to try news thing such as being a ceramic trainer (I didn’t know a single thing about ceramic before started the workshop) in a psychiatric clinic. Being able to do that with 15 people with mental disease, to talk to them, to laugh with them, to see the smile and happiness on their face every time they achieve something, is an amazing experience, I always go there with a huge smile on my face and I feel so proud of them and their success.

Doing a European Solidarity Corps is so much than just doing a volunteering project ! Thanks to that experience I get to chance to live crazy adventure with some amazing people from differents countries that I met over the months : going a week trip to Madeira or on a spontaneous weekend in Algarve, having huge dinner and brunch every weeks or party, going to the beach on the weekend. Every week is different, and we never get bored ! 

But this experience came also with it’s down sometime I miss my family, sometime work can be exhausting or not really interesting but overall doing this project help me find out what I like and what I don’t and open my eyes on a lot of things ! I am very grateful to have the chance of living this experience and I can’t to see what next !

Até a próxima !"

07 junho 2022

Youth Exchange “My Data, My Right” in Portugal (Estonian Team)

Project “My Data My Right” took place in Lisbon on 3-11 March 2022. Young people interested in the topic were brought together from Estonia, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Lithuania and Greece. The program was tight, but interesting and educational. In a short period of time we got to discuss data usage, protection and possible dangers of personal information falling into someone else’s hands. Since every participant had a different experience with digital world, we could learn a lot from each other. Estonia’s digital literacy and e-services got a lot of coverage.
At the same time we got to know each other’s cultures and traditions. This project was special, because every dinner was to be prepared by one national group. It was a big challenge for us, because no one had ever made dinner for 30 people before! Despite all, in the end we managed to do our job well and introduced dumpling soup (klimbisupp), lavash, dumplings and kama to the participants. The night ended with tasting Estonian snacks and Vana-Tallinn liqueur. We also performed a few Estonian traditional dances that many people liked.
Other countries’ cultural nights were high-spirited as well. The Spanish offered a 6-course dinner while the Lithuanians just copied Estonian food, offering borsch, garlic bread and Spotted-Dog cake. The Hungarian night was remembered for the infamous Balinka schnapps. The Portuguese grilled Chorizo outside. The Greeks organized a terrific fare-well party.

Overall, Lisbon was surprisingly cold for us. Probably that’s why in the evenings many decided to go discover Portuguese nightlife to get a little bit of warmth with dancing and some strong drinks,We also had one day to see Lisbon’s sights during the daytime, ride the famous Lisbon train and taste Pasteis de Natas.
The accommodation was in Spin Hostel, where we were placed in rooms by eight. Two toilets for 30 people was a real challenge, especially when one of them often didn’t work. But the cramped circumstances didn’t discourage us, because the overall atmosphere was always pleasant. We’re going back to Estonia with a big baggage of knowledge and experience, new connections and a positive mind.

O testemunho No. 2 da Silvia (Bola p'ra frente)

Hey, Silvia’s back!

Now it’s almost 6 months I am here in Lisbon... WOW! So many things has happened...

But First I want to start with a question my flatemate asked me yesterday: A year ago would you have expected to be at this point of your life now? NO. I decided exactly one year ago that I wanted to do this experience, but I would have never imagined it would have been so fulfilling and enriching. Lisbon teaches me how to enjoy the moment without stressing out about the future or the past: just let life flow. Even when there is no plans, this city is so lively that you will never feel bored or lonely.

I look back at the pictures and at all the moments I have been living in the past few months and it seems like years has passed from when I arrived in November. There has been ups and downs, like the streets of this city, but after a steep road, you know that there will always be a wonderful landscape and miradouro waiting for you. Maybe you will make an effort at the beginning but then this city will marvel you with its beauty. 

One of the beauties of Lisbon are the people... because here you can meet the world, it’s like traveling without traveling ahahahh. I’ve discovered a lot of cultures, languages and traditions. I had the chance to meet people from different parts of the world, and besides the cultural differences, it felt like what connects us it’s more than what divides us. I am glad for every single wonderful soul I had the chance to meet here.

Last but not least, my project: from February and March I’ve started to get more confidence with portuguese, so also with kids and youngsters. With the help of some collegues I’ve started to teach english, always trying  to find funny activities and games, in order to learn by having fun. Moreover, I am everyday helping and supporting more and more the team. 

I am very grateful for the chance of living this experience and I can’t wait for what I am still going to learn and encounter on my path here in Lisbon.

Até à proxima!

01 junho 2022

My Data, My Right": disseminação de resultados

O intercâmbio internacional "My data, My Right!", gerido pela Associação Spin, realizou-se nos dias 3-11 de Março de 2022 em Lisboa e reuniu 30 jovens e líderes juvenis de Portugal, Espanha, Lituânia, Hungria, Grécia e Estónia.

Os principais temas focados foram o direito à privacidade, a literacia digital, o pensamento crítico, a aprendizagem intercultural e a promoção dos direitos humanos.

Partilhamos aqui o testemunho da líder do grupo de Portugal:

Foram oito dias, mas pareceram mais. No dia 3 de Março, trinta jovens destemidos de Portugal, Espanha, Grécia, Lituânia e Hungria juntaram-se, alheios à dimensão do desafio que tinham aceite ao participar no intercâmbio " My data, my right!".

Nesses oito dias, saímos laboriosamente da nossa zona de conforto e juntos discutimos porque é tão importante cuidar dos nossos dados pessoais, porque são tão preciosos e disputados, e o impacto que a nossa falta de consciência tem na nossa percepção do mundo e por conseguinte nas nossas escolhas.

Não faltaram discussões acaloradas, epifanias e o desejo de mudar as coisas, de nos mudarmos a nós próprios primeiro. Sentimos que precisamos de um sistema escolar que nos ensine o pensamento crítico, que valorize a dúvida e as questões insaciáveis, pedimos um diálogo mais próximo, mais aberto e direto com as instituições, necessitamos de recuperar a confiança nelas, vendo aplicadas sem desconto normas que já existem, mas na maioria das vezes apenas no papel.

Queremos conhecer e compreender o sistema em que estamos a crescer e que muitas vezes damos por assumido e nem sequer imaginamos que podemos mudar, nem sabemos que podemos ou queremos mudar.


Sara Rugarli, Líder do grupo de Portugal.

20 maio 2022

O testemunho final da Miriam (Viver Telheiras)


A couple of weeks ago, I said goodbye to the office, to my tutor and to the amazing team of the Associação Viver Telheiras. Leaving my key in the key stand on my last day was an emotional moment that all of a sudden took me back in time to one year ago when this experience had just begun and little did I know that I would have become a Telheirense by adoption. 

It has been maybe the most fulfilling year of my life, full of personal growth, healing, beers with amazing landscapes and friends. I am forever grateful for the chance I had to do my ESC in Lisbon; grateful for the experiences I lived, the skills I learned, and all the people I met here. 
I am thrilled by the fact that I decided to stay in Lisbon some more time and I challenged myself to continue supporting my community in Telheiras as a personal volunteering project. Volunteering at Viver Telheiras taught me that people’s daily involvement in society is real and satisfying, that neighbours can join and create something amazing for their community; that interaction and cooperation with the authorities are possible; that change is possible.

After one year, I can really say that ESC changes lives, it broadens your horizons and offers new perspectives to look at the world around you, As I said in my very first testimony, when I arrived in Lisbon, it felt like I belonged here. Antonio Tabucchi, “the most Portuguese of Italian writers”, wrote in one of his books about travelling in Portugal that a “place is never just a place”, somehow, unknowingly, that place is part of us, we were carrying it around, until when, one day, we arrived there, by chance.

You know, I am not really sure I arrived here by chance, but maybe it’s true, I was carrying this country in my heart until the moment I set foot here and who knows this will be my place still for a long time. Obrigada, ESC. Um brinde à vida, um brinde a Lisboa, um brinde à Europa!

14 maio 2022

O testemunho No. 2 da Marina (Viver Telheiras)


This year I’m learning that I can put much more things in the washing machine than I could imagine, like shoes, I never cleaned shoes. I also learned how to open bottles with a lighter, and I promise it has been a lifetime challenge, comparable to the time I learned how to do stone skipping and now I do it almost stylish. 

I also enjoyed more to be alone and I learned how to gather people without worrying if they will get along. I realized that I love beet, which isn’t a vegetable I used to eat a lot back in my hometown,I also realized that I look much better when I have time to sleep and I’m not angry anymore, never. I thought that I was an angry person and it turns out I was just tired. I’m also learning how to do handstands, I’m not a professional doing them, but I’m quite proud of my evolve these pasts months. I’m practicing trapeze more than ever and I hang out with my friends almost every day.

This year all the plants that I bought are making new leaves, because I water them and I take care of them, And I feel kind of flourishing new leaves as well after these two years of pandemic and this new life that I build here. Life’s coming back to normal and it has nothing of normal at all, new place, new friends, new family, but I still have this feeling, that I’m coming back to something I was, to something I already knew of myself. Being a teenager, this stimulating environment where you grow, and maybe it’s the city, maybe it’s the COVID is almost over or maybe it’s that I have time again, but I’m confident that I will enjoy this bubble no matter what, even though I know it doesn’t last.

03 maio 2022

O testemunho No. 2 da Afrodite (SPEA)


Hello everyone 
Already halfway through my volunteering program with SPEA -Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves. I am thinking  that only 3 months are left and I get stressed about my next steps. Can I say that it was worth it after 6 months of experiencing it? Definitely. When thinking of my background and that is not exactly and directly related to biology and nature conservation I realize that if not through volunteering and if not through the ESC program I would never have the chance to experience something like this.
I realized that I do love working for environmental conservation and environmental education projects. It feels unreal to me sometimes to think that actually there are jobs that are based totally in the outdoors, and that naturally protected areas need so much attendance and workforce to keep flourishing. I had no idea that these kinds of jobs existed and I was amazed to find out. In the last three months, I have been visiting Berlengas islands to carry out conservation work. It was so special to get to know the islands as if they are animate creatures which in a way they are. Their every formation, track, cliff, rock, bird colony, fauna composition. I could never imagine such a small island having so much to show. It's every side that touches the ocean having a different name as if they are street names in a big city. The stories and myths that it withholds within the knowledge of the very few habitants. The lighthouse keepers, the nature police and us, volunteers and biologists. The 6 of us inhabit an island and stay in the lighthouse. It felt like the earth was this island and nothing else existed. Just us on a big rock surviving in a continuous battle with the ocean waves crushing on its every edge. A vibrating ecosystem that would seem as nothing special for a couple of hours but the more the time, the hours and the days spent there, the more it revealed to me, how much treasure it withholds, how much knowledge and purpose it carries for the protection of biodiversity and the continuation of life.
What does a day in Berlengas feel like? We would wake up in the morning to breakfast with fresh Portuguese toast and coffee. Telescopes, binoculars and ready to climb hills all day long. We would cross the land and reach the edges, set up the tripod and zoom in the telescope lens to watch a nest of ‘Galietas’ from 300 meters away on a deathly cliff! We would watch for hours until she decides to get up so we can see and count her eggs or chicks! Now you can imagine not all of them would be so cooperative, some of them would even play games of on purpose maneuvering so we never get a chance to make a clear observation! Others would stand up for a second and as we crazily rush into setting the lens at the right spot she would sit down immediately once we are able to watch her! Now tell me if that is not on purpose! The ‘good’ news is that we have to do that for more than 100 nests across the island which can barely be finished within 5-6 days! Isn’t it boring? One might say so, but I quite enjoyed this part of just sitting watching the ‘galieta’ and the ‘galieta’ watching me for hours and hours. I don’t think I needed my patience any more than in this case before.
At lunch time we would have someone cooking a very Portuguese amazing food like ‘calderada de peixe’ or ‘massada de peixe’ were my favorites! Wine, coffee, and aguardiente was part of the menu too! And the plenty of cakes which I was asked to make because it seems like it made them very happy! In the afternoon we would either check the mouse traps to see if they trapped a mouse and or we would record the fauna species per square meter of land and per percentage of coverage! Fun stuff! Other tasks would include recording species traffic for the census using the telescope! That was not easy! Imagine having the view of a highway of birds which are at least 10 km away from you and by their way of flying and colors you need to identify what species they are, how many they are and what are they doing there! I wish they could just tell me straight away! It feels like being in the middle of a motorway and trying to identify the date of manufacturing of each car based on its emissions! This was such a random comparison but whatever! And my next favorite part is dinner. Same as lunch.
And while one might think that at night we would go to bed and rest we actually had to wear torches on our foreheads and get outside in the middle of the night, climbing cliffs with the moonlight as guidance and the torches on our heads blinding each other! Why?? Well because we had to go and extract those poor birds called ‘cagarras’ from their nests in the ground and then measure their every body part and give them a ring! Just imagine you are sleeping in your bed in the night peacefully and a giant hand drags you out and starts measuring you with a ruler, then stuffing you in to a bag and weighting you and as if you are not fashionable enough in your pajamas you from now on need to wear a bracelet with a number! That is how a non-biologist sees all of these… Of course the poor ‘cagarras’ had to fight back and it was a bloody fight with our hands full of scratches since their beaks are quite deathly! And we would be doing this all night long, coming back home at 2 am in the night!
So that was a typical active day in the berlengas in the high season which is spring and everything is flourishing! There would be some days that nothing would happen and we cannot get out of the lighthouse since the wind splashes are about 70km per hour which would most likely cost you your life if at the edge of a cliff! Did I have accidents on those cliffs? A few yes. It is not the safest type of job, but definitely one of the most exciting ones I have done with all these risks that come with it!

So that was a small taste of my conservation work in Berlengas which seems like a world I would never thought existed and I feel so lucky that in one way or another I had the chance to experience it! Definitely one of the greatest gifts that I got from the whole volunteering experience so far. Let's see what comes next, what steps will I take, and I will soon be starting to plan my life after this program. I am so glad I chose to do this program and it definitely exited all my expectations by far. I never thought of this experience being sooo interesting! I am grateful to SPIN and SPEA for choosing me as their volunteer.

April 2022, 22nd.