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Maria Theresa

She became Empress of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

The 13/05/1717 was a day Austrian history will never forget, it was the day the one and only female Empress in the Habsburg dynasty ever was born.

Even at the young age of 23, she became Empress of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. She occupied this position for 40 years. Actually, to clarify, officially her husband Franz Stephan the First was the Emperor, but she actively ruled the empire. Franz Stephan was only in charge of the Austrian finances.

Maria Theresa is most known for making education compulsory but also establishing the potato as staple which was a great service for the Austrian society. The “Mrs. Emperor”, as she was called by the Austrians, was also known to be a really prolific child bearer, as she gave birth to 16 children (11 daughters and 5 sons). Out of those 16 children, sadly, only 10 became adults.

Although she obviously liked to have sex, she dedicated her life for the fight against immorality, victims of this fight were obviously the prostitutes of Vienna. If you were caught “doing things” without being married, you would have feared the loss of either your hair or even your ears…

Being gay, having unconventional sexual appetites, or even cheating on your spouse was also really dangerous back then, and could get you killed. Human rights did not mean too much to her and only in 1776 her son Joseph forced her to abolish torture. Also, shortly after this, death row got outlawed.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Raphael Johler and I am from a small country. I lived in Austria my whole life with my family and I also went to high school in Egg which actually is a place, not a thing to eat… Right now I am doing my EVS (European Volunteer Service) in Funchal, Portugal. My biggest passion, of course, is skiing. In Winter I usually work as a ski instructor in a local Ski resort located in the Bregenzerwald.


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.

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.