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Every nation has its own traditions, and an integral part of these traditions are countless myths and legends.

Even though they are considered only partially true they still constitute an important aspect of national heritage. At first oral, then written stories are handed down from generation to generation. Despite changing times and cultural trends the great national value of these stories remains intact across the centuries, enriching the national culture and identity of the people. Poland also has its own legends about kings or princesses but the most famous is about the dragon, well known to every Polish child, is the legendary Smok Wawelski who inhabited a cave near the Wawel Castle in Kraków.

“Once upon a time there was an awful dragon that kept threatening the people of Kraków. He slew the innocent, devoured their domestic animals and plundered their belongings. Nobody could prevent his hideous deeds. The King of Kraków, desperately worried by the tragic situation in the city, promised the hand of his daughter to anyone who could defeat this terrible creature and free the inhabitants of Kraków from his tyranny.

One day, a poor shoemaker hit upon a clever idea. He stuffed a sack with sulphur and planted it close to the dragon’s cave. The dragon, thinking this to be a nice titbit, gobbled it up in the twinkling of an eye. Very soon he started to feel enormously thirsty. He was forced to drink half of the Vistula River, and as a result, his stomach kept swelling and swelling and eventually it exploded, killing him!  Thus the idea of a simple boy saved the lives of the whole of the city of Kraków. As promised the boy married the king’s daughter and the pair lived happily ever after.”

Smok Wawelski’s cave still exists and is a popular tourist attraction (though not in winter) and at the cave mouth is a fire breathing statue of the dragon by Bronisław Chrobry. 

Text written in August 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Danuta Brzozowska, a volunteer from Poland who likes to ride a bike and play tennis.

Erasmus+

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.