Here in Funchal I participate in a project that requires learning a big chunk of Portuguese and Madeiran history. My fellow volunteers are intelligent, worldly and conscious people and we talk a lot about cultural differences, economy, politics and history.
Thanks to them, and others who I encountered throughout the years, I got to learn about Portuguese dictatorship and Carnation Revolution, liberation of Spanish colonies in South America, Rotterdam bombing during WWII, potato famine in Ireland, Balkan Wars that many people my age remember…
Coming from Poland, country in my opinion quite obsessed with its martyrdom, I realized each nation has its own tragic history – struggles for freedom or better life or against nature – all of them usually resulting in misery, imprisonment or death of many people.
We perceive traveling as endless fun and adventure. And thankfully it is like that most of the time. But it can also be a chance to learn history of a certain place first-hand, from its people, stories, landmarks. It makes me realize how much I DON’T know yet – about the world, Europe and my own country.
Katarzyna Kozak, a volunteer from Wroclaw, Poland. Arts, culture and foreing languages have always been her interest in school, in her professional life and as a hobby. She worked for several cultural institutions, often starting as a volunteer, and especially enjoyed being involved in film festivals and cultural education of youth. In Madeira she studying its history and landmarks to become a tour guide, but also learning Portuguese and traveling around this beautiful 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 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, 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.