When I got here, to Funchal, four months ago, I could count on the help and experience of volunteers that got here several months before me. I perceived them as my “mentors” when it comes to practical stuff regarding living in the residence and getting around the city. They showed me the fastest route to work, where to buy vegetables and of course what does the word “poncha” mean. And their help was even more appreciated when it comes to free-time activities. Like finding great camping spots, recommending hiking trails and levadas, bars, museums and other attractions.
Of course I’ve learned and discovered a lot during my stay here. But somehow it feels weird to be the “old volunteer” now. Especially that I would still happily take somebody’s advice looking for weekend activities, just because it’s very convenient. But I guess now it’s my turn to do the same for others. The question though is not if I can do it, but if the “new ones” will need it?
Katarzyna Kozak, a volunteer from Wroclaw, Poland. Arts, culture and foreing languages have always been her interest in school, in her professional life and as a hobby. She worked for several cultural institutions, often starting as a volunteer, and especially enjoyed being involved in film festivals and cultural education of youth. In Madeira she studying its history and landmarks to become a tour guide, but also learning Portuguese and traveling around this beautiful island.
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.