Christmas and Advent is a very special and important time at my home. Winter is coming, the skiing season starts and it might snow a little. On the first of December, the Advent starts and every child is allowed to open the first door of their Advent calendar. Another tradition is the Advent wreath, it is a circle made of fir branches and with four candles on top. The last four Sundays before Christmas one candle is lit, and so on until Christmas day, when finally all four candles burn. Another typical thing is Rorate. These are church services which start at around six in the morning and end with breakfast for all attendees at church.
Carnival or how we call it “Fasching” is a period for almost one month were villages hold parades. In these parades, music is played and people show their beautiful costumes which they made the previous year. Afterward, there are usually big parties where you drink, dance and celebrate together.
Another great time to visit my home is during Easter. It starts 40 days before, with the beginning of the fasting period, but the important days are the last seven days before Easter Sunday. On Saturday before, children build something that we call Palmbusche, which are sticks decorated with various twigs, catkins, crêpe paper, and colorful Easter eggs. The following day we have parades where they present them and the priest blesses them. On Easter day the Easter bunny comes to hide the nest with chocolate bunnies and other sweets and the children have to search for them before breakfast.
Julia, from Austria, is 18 years old and is now part of the Madeira Heritage voluntary program. Likes to go hiking, swimming, and reading, and is looking forward to learning about the culture and history from this wonderful island.
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 to 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.