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King Manuel I of Portugal

The period of his reign was one of the finest times in the history of Portugal.

Walking around Funchal you could have came across a square called “Largo Dom Manuel I” (eng. “Square of King Manuel I”) which is located near Sé Cathedral or you could have heard about an architectural style called ‘mannueline’ visible in many buildings in the city.

All this reminds us of the times of reign of one of the most famous kings of Portugal, Manuel I also known as the Fortunate (port. o Afortunado) had as the period of his reign 1495-1521. During this time Funchal received city rights (1508) and became an important commercial port in the map of the world. We can even observe some connection between madeiran flag and King Manuel I.

Besides two colors of the flag, blue which symbolizes ocean and yellow which symbolizes wealth, we can also find a red and white cross of Order of Christ in the middle of the flag. As it happens Manuel I was a Great Master of the Order of Christ, the organization which is the heritage of the Order of the Knights Templar. The Order played a really important role in Portugal, its property was used to finance overseas expeditions of Portuguese, its members took part in great geographical discoveries and contributed to the construction of the Portuguese colonial empire. One of the famous explorers was Vasco da Gama and it was Manuel I who sent him to discover the way to India (in 1497−1499).

The expedition ended with a great success and opened a new era in the history of mankind. Paradoxically, Manuel chose Vasco da Gama as the leader of the expedition despite the fact that this great explorer has never sailed before. Presently, the remains of these both important historical figures lie in tombs in Monastery of the Hieronymites in Lisbon only a few meters away from each other.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Karolina Szwaj, Polish with a Portuguese/Brazilian soul, volunteering in one of AAUMa’s projects namely history tellers project. Passionate about Romance languages and Lusophony culture as well as travelling as a backpacker.


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.

European Voluntary Service

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.