Come on! It is not so difficult at all, is it? We are different, so our taste as well. For one of us the perfect souvenir is postcard, the others might choose some parts of clothes with logo of hosting city. How the situation looks in the most popular destinations for travelling on the Globe?
In London people willingly buy thousands kinds of fridge magnet with images of historical attractions and royals, of course. In Paris the winners are white t-shirt and small pendant, both present the Eiffel Tower. What about Funchal? Which object is the most valuable for our guests? That question is hard to explain, because nobody is able to say: That was the bestseller of 2016. Nobody really care – I am not surprised. I will allow myself to tell you what I could see by the last 6 months of living in Madeira. Every self-respected tourist, who was passing by Rua Santa Maria bought a straw hat with black bandage, where the word FUNCHAL was written. Ones again I will use big letters: F. U. N. C. H. A. L. How many percent of Madeiran soul is hidden inside of headgear? Not too much. Why? The truth is that most of those hats came from the Far East, because just a few private manufactures are still on. The market in Portugal is capital, so only firms with possibilities to deliver big amount of goods in the lowest price will survive. The lowest price can be offered by sellers, who import stuff from China, India, Vietnam for example. I am not going to judge it. Not everyone can spend a lot’s of money to get handmade hat.
Let’s try to understand what makes truly local souvenirs more expensive. Fine example is Madeiran embroidery. You can buy ten tablecloths from Asia somewhere in the down town in the price of one napkin made by Madeiran Embroidery Company. In their showroom near Rua Fernao Ornelas I have found a tablecloth, which costs three thousand euros. After my visit I know, why is like that. Embroidery is time-consuming art. Sometimes, as in the case of mentioned tablecloth it takes one year to finish whole work. Nowadays Madeira has four hundred professional embroiderers in the age between 45-90. Most of them are woman. They acquired skills from the generation to generation (from mother to daughter). The life-style on island has changed and embroidery is slowly going to disappear. Before ladies living on the farm were spending time on needlework. Now it’s a past – people lost patient and private time. That’s why I really admire the group of artist, who are cooperating with Madeiran Embroidery Company. For us four thousand euros is not appropriate price, fortune… for the others one-year salary.
I didn’t add that their products are high quality, tested by Institute of Wine, Embroidery and Craftwork of Madeira many time before they will receive special certificate, which provide the authenticity of works. It need to be pay per every single stamp and exam. The next aspect is connected with taxation. As you can suppose 21% IRS is like an investment blockade. Buying local products means giving a support for local industry, being responsible customer. As a hotelier I know how big chances tourism is giving for natives, I believe in people and their right choices. Sometimes not quantity but quality is important.
Finally, I want to say: Madeira I love you! I know what makes you beautiful, so don’t feel shame to show it outside. The best wine, craftwork. natural cosmetics, delicious food, amazing hospitality; the cheapest stuff from Far East will never beat it.
Kamil Swiderski, 21 years old, volunteer from Poland. Great fan of modern architecture, dance and travel.
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