I started going abroad not long ago, when I could afford it. So when holidays came, I would always try to convince a friend to go with me and find the cheapest flights or Airbnb. There was no real purpose or reflexion behind this, only the will to go somewhere outside the country where I was born.
But then I had the opportunity to go live abroad for the first time in my life, and my view of things completely changed. Time flies, and to know that I am in Madeira for 10 months pushes me to make the most of this experience. This is the reason why I always try to take advantage of my weekends to discover a new place. This island never disappoints, I am filled with wonder every time.
Human relationships are one of the aspects that such an experience abroad will bring you. I have met people from the five continents since I started this project and quickly get attached to some of them. I have experienced situations and created memories that I know wouldn’t have been imaginable if I hadn’t take the plunge and come here. I also had the opportunity to go to the mainland as part of a training that volunteers who began their project around the same time in Portugal had to attend. Once again, I got to discover amazing new places and meet new people. It was one of the most intensive – because time-consuming and exhausting – week of my life, but also full of strong emotions because bonds of friendship were forged.
All of these reasons made me realise that it was worth stepping out of my comfort zone. The world is full of wonderful places and lovely people that once you make the decision to undertake such an adventure, you feel the need for more.
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.