If anyone would have told me that I would be in Madeira at that time last year, I would have never believed him or her. I was doing my end-of-studies internship in the Ministry of Economy in Luxembourg, and I was expecting, or rather, my parents were expecting me to find a job afterwards. Instead I started working as a volunteer in a non-profit organisation that promotes European values and informs youngsters about all kinds of mobility programmes that exist in the European Union. I was still looking for my “real” first job; the job interviews that I had weren’t successful and made me realise that what I was maybe about to do for a living didn’t suit me. I started wondering about my future and I felt a little lost. It turned out that the organisation I was working in was accredited to coordinate EVS projects, and that was the starting point of this adventure. I met former EVS volunteers and their testimonies reinforced my opinion that it was the right time for me to throw myself into it. This is how it all started, and I am glad of the choice that I made.
When people ask me what my expectations of this project are, I tend to answer that I came here to live a unique intercultural experience and learn to do something new by performing guided tours of a city that I didn’t even know before. But I think that the real question is: “what do I expect from myself?”. I want to believe that the first reason that encouraged me to take part in an EVS project is the determination to step out of my comfort zone. I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of undertaking something completely different from what I had planned, moreover abroad.
This is how I would answer to that question then: “I expect myself to do things that I won’t usually do; I want to seize this opportunity and make the most of it, but most of all I want to become an improved version of myself at the end of these 10 months.” It has been one month since I arrived in Funchal, and I know now that it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.
Marine Merat-Viriot, volunteer from Nancy, France. Pro-European, travel, music and books enthusiast, food lover.
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.