Madeira is a Portuguese island whose history begins to count from the fifteenth century when it was permanently occupied for the first time. This information is important because my project is about the Madeiran legacy (the name of my project is Madeiran Heritage), and it tries to train volunteers to, through guided tours, show a piece of the history of Funchal (its capital), of the island in general, and some aspects of the history of Portugal. With the money that is obtained from this process we help for the different social projects of the University of Madeira.
The project itself is very rewarding for me because from a few years ago I began to like the story (curiously I liked the story more after high school than while I was in it), and also the exposition of the learned information is something that I like and I could say that I’m good at it.
Another thing that I would like to tell you is how long I’ve been here. I arrived on first of March and I wrote this on 27th of December, which means that during my project I have lived the Madeiran version of the four seasons, and that is a great part of my experience, because in each of the seasons Madeira presents Several differences with Cali (the city where I was born) and Alcira, the city where currently I live. Since Madeira is a semitropical island, the spring was quite pleasant and picturesque. The city and the island in general was adorned with a beautiful green, a nice purple, a bright yellow, (these last two with historical reasons), and in general with such a big quantity of different colors that impressed me too much.
Also spring is one of the seasons with more parties and celebrations in which I could learn about the different traditions and try some of the typical delicacies. The summer was a season whose weather reminded me my hometown. Although the temperatures were higher, they never exceeded that ideal temperature which I am used, that basically is, hot but not burning. And also the fact that I could went out from work and go to the beach (which is literally 2 minutes from my residence) helped a lot to support the hottest days.
Summer was also the time of “Arraiais”, typical parties in which neighborhoods and entire cities celebrate spectacular parties that were seasoned with the best typical food and drinks. Summer was also the time with more work, many tourists came with the desire to escape from more austere climates and to know a little about the history of the island, and this for me as a touristic guide came as a glove. There was a lot of work that although sometimes it was stressful, it was very good for me. Besides this I could discover that I would like to continue learning in the field of tourism.
Autumn was season with more variety, all the paths and walks that can be done on the island were decorated with several shades of brown, and it was also possible to enjoy a cooler climate; and of course, one or another surprising rain when I was less prepared.
Now winter has been quite surprising for me, I really did not expect that the temperatures would go down so much here, but still I can say that the weather is still good. A great example of this is that from time to time I still go to the beach to swim. Winter is also Christmas time, which means that some cities (especially Funchal) are highly decorated with Christmas lights and decorations. This is also a time to try typical hot drinks and sweeter and fatter typical food (equally delicious). Winter was also a religious time, because here, thanks to some of my bosses, I could enjoy one of the typical masses, It’s called “Misa do Parto”, and basically it’s based in some people gather in the early morning (really early).
Another very important thing was the acquired knowledge. During my stay here I had the opportunity to learn one language (Portuguese), and improve another (English). These improvements were in such an unexpected level, at the beginning of my project I couldn’t imagine how good these improvements would be during my stay here. And now I can say that this is one of the great legacies that the project gave me. Also as part of the acquired knowledge, there are the knowledge about Portuguese history and culture, the knowledge acquired from the multicultural interaction, and some very interesting recipes (I also like to cook).
Another very important aspect was the fact of living in such a big and multicultural community. During my stay here I had the opportunity to live in a residence in which I shared a room with 2 people and in general I shared certain places with people from different nationalities who came to do Erasmus, work, other volunteering or just on holidays and this was where I have been able to make many friends from different places with whom I have shared experiences, knowledge, experiences and other things that have helped me to grow up personally, to open my mind, to see things from a different perspective, and to improve my skills.
Another very important aspect was my trips. During my project I had two trainings in Guimarães (a Portuguese city) which allowed me to visit and get to know that city and the city of Oporto, which in my opinion is the most beautiful city that I have ever visited. During my holydays I also had the opportunity to visit Lisbon and some surrounding villages. Also, a very important part was the trips that I could do around the island.
I must also say that I have had the opportunity to meet very polite, friendly and dedicated people who have been of great help to me during my experience. A big part of these people were my bosses and colleagues whom I shared wonderful experiences. Madeira has been a place to make great connections with people from several places and cultures.
I finished my project and I returned to Spain full of new knowledge and skills that I’ll try to use.
Andrés Espinosa, volunteer from Spain.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira