How to compare two places that appear to be so completely different at first glance? Funchal, the thriving southern metropolis and my small home village Husen, a part of western Germany, totally unknown to 99% of the world’s population.
My village consists of round about 1,000 people, a stark contrast to the population of Funchal with its over 110,000 inhabitants. And even if we take a look at the two cities my village belongs to, Lichtenau and Paderborn, there do not seem to be that many similarities.
The most obvious connection might be the big Portuguese community in Paderborn, which offers Fado concerts, as well as Portuguese language and cooking courses. Moreover, Paderborn with its 145,000 people, is also considered a big city which similarly to Funchal consists of an old, historic city core, shopping centers, and nice little cafes.
Furthermore, we might not live next to the sea with its stunning view seen all across the city and accompanied by beaches and small parks, but we have our river Pader, whose origin is in the city itself and gave her its name. This river might not surround breaches but is framed by a small, yet beautiful park used by tourists and citizens alike to enjoy a nice summer’s day. However, if we take a closer look, my hometown and Funchal might share even more.
For instance, when I walk around my village, I normally meet many people and especially my neighbors always enjoy to take a break and chat with me for a few seconds, I have a similar feeling of belonging, when I walk along the old part of town, particularly through the Rua Santa Maria with its many small restaurants and the waiters are always greeting joyfully and one of them even gives my fellow volunteers and I high fives, after living and working here for some time, now I have got the feeling that some of them already recognize me and are just as happy when I try and also greet them in Portuguese.
Of course, there are differences in mentality, the people I met in Funchal are far more relaxed than the majority of Germans I know, which I was told is caused by the calming presence of the sea.
All in all, there are just as many differences as there are similarities, even though you sometimes have to take a closer look.
My name is Helen and I am an 18-year-old volunteer from Germany. In my free time, I enjoy singing and playing the guitar, read or spend time with my friends. In my holidays I love visiting foreign places with my family and learn about their history, which is why I am really excited to be a part of the History Tellers project.
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 (KA3) 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.