… the easiness of switching between landscapes: I mostly spend my weekends hiking and camping in different corners of the island. And everytime I head out of Funchal, I am amazed by how easy it is to come from one surrounding to another, how some meters of altitude can change the vegetation and how different the Westcoast for example looks to the Southcoast, even though I only moved a couple of kilometers. And if ever you find yourself in a foggy corner of the island, you can be almost sure to find a sunny spot on the opposite side of Madeira.
… living at a slow pace. Especially coming from Germany, I had to learn slowing myself down in order not to stick out of the local crowd as a fool, running after busses or sprinting over red lights. And I found out how relaxing it can be not to get you into a hurry. The next bus will come and the cars will slow down for you anyways. And life is long, there is now need to be stressed.
… fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables all year long. I guess I don’t have to describe this point any further. This island simply is paradise for anybody who likes greenery and fruits and experiment with new produce in the kitchen. And not narrow down winter-cooking to cabbage and potatoes, because these would be the only things available on season in your region.
… the light. I mean the sun as well, but mostly the light. Thanks to white pavements and white houses, Funchal seems bright and friendly at first sight. Even when the sun does not shine, the ocean works as another mirror, reflecting the white, cloud covered sky. And once the sun set and the daylight is gone, the bay of Funchal is covered in beautiful yellow specks of light. Seeing the amphitheatre of Madeiras capital with its gloomy streetlights climbing up the mountains is one of the many pictures that I’ll take with me. Not as a photo, just safely stored in my memories.
Ina comes from Germany, where she studied cultural education. Looking for practical experience in her field, she first did a voluntary service in on Reunion Island, which is where her love for volcanic islands and practical fieldwork were triggered. Following these preferences and being curious for learning another language brought her to Madeira. Since September 2016 she’s one of the European volunteers of AAUMa, realizing guided tours in historic buildings and throughout the city and helping the cultural department with translations.
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.