It has been four months since my experience in Madeira started. After this time I can’t consider myself as an expert of the island but I can explain one of my favorite’s activities here. That is always a good plan to do, not just in summer, but also at any time of the year go hiking in Madeira.
Ribeiro Frio is a forest park where you can observe several Laurissilva forest species and the weather is fresh enough at any time of the year, perfect for a walking trail. The natural park is the crossroads of several levadas (paths). One of the easiest and most recommended trails is the Vereda dos Balcões that takes only one hour and you visit a balcony that is an impressive view of the valley.
This place it’s also a spot for the bird-watchers. Some of the birds of the fauna of the Island can be found in Ribeiro Frio, such as the Chaffinch, the Grey Wagtails, Blackbirds, Robins and the Firecrest, the smallest endemic bird that occurs in Madeira.
From this belvedere, it’s also possible to contemplate the many peaks of Madeira Island, from which stands out Pico Ruivo and Pico do Areeiro, the highest.
All I can say is that hiking is a great beneficial exercise. It raises the level of introspection as it brings serenity. The contact with nature creates an adequate predisposition towards relaxation and also strengthens resistance and flexibility.
Alba Esteve, a 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.