Looking at a map Madeira seems like a tiny island, which could be explored in a few days. There is a big difference between expectations and reality. There are so many hidden places to see, so many Levadas to follow and so many mountains to climb.
Being a volunteer for ten months seems long at first but time flies. I have been in Madeira for about six weeks now. At the one hand it feels like I have just arrived a few days ago, on the other hand I feel already home and know my way around. I have gained so many experiences and different point of views. The people are amazing and the nature is beautiful. Naturally I want to get to know as much as I can. Actually, in the time here I tried to do everything because there is that part of me which thinks I do not have enough time here. I do not want to miss anything either. So my friends and I have taken every possibility to do activities we have never done before. We went climbing, kayaking, canyoning and on boat trips. Of course we went hiking too. After all that, there is still overwhelmingly much to do. How am I supposed to fit the whole island in ten months? I will. The way to go is adapting the Portuguese mentality and loose the stressful German mentality I am so used to.
Helmi Krappitz, volunteer from Germany, nature and food enthusiast.
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.