I arrived in Funchal short time ago, so it’s a bit difficult for me to talk about similarities when I hardly know the idiosyncrasies of Madeiran people. However, I must say that I immediately felt at home. I come from San Sebastian, a city in the Basque Country, in the north of Spain, but I am a French resident since 2012.
When I arrived in Funchal, I had the feeling of being in a known place, even though I had never been here. The people are friendly and warm and they immediately treat you as if they knew you.
I think one of the biggest similarities with my hometown, is that in the Basque Country we have also always lived by the sea and the mountains, like Madeiran people, and I suppose that it also creates links and makes us behave in a certain way. We share the same ocean, the Atlantic, and the same mountainous terrain. I believe, that the characteristics of the physical environment often determine the character of the people, for that reason people who live thousands of kilometers away from each other can come to resemble each other, even more than people who share a language or have the same borders.
Furthermore, the current Europe in which the countries are lately less and less welcoming and try to sharpen the differences between each other. Young people like me, who had the opportunity to enjoy the Erasmus scholarship, the European volunteering scheme, or other mobility programs, have realized that we are not really that different. I have witnessed that cliches and stereotypes serve to as a laugh between friends, but they do not represent the reality of people at all. I think we can say that this type of mobility program has been a really effective thing to build a more united Europe, increase solidarity among people, and to realize that, in the end, we are all quite similar.
My name is Jone, I am 28 years old and I am from a city of 200,000 inhabitants, called San Sebastián, in the Basque Country, in the north of Spain. Since 2012 I have lived in France, currently in the city of Bayonne, in the French Basque area. I studied Humanities and translation, and before starting my EVS I used to work as a Basque language teacher.
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.