segunda-feira, julho 01, 2019

Social Bond: Marwa's experience!


EVS in Portugal: almost a honeymoon! 

In a very young age, we start daydreaming about our future, every night in the bed, we close our eyes, and we start imagining where we want to live in 20 years, where we want to go to college, what profession we will be practicing, are we going to change the world someday, are we going to make a difference?

The truth is, each one of us will have his answers someday, wither it fits the expectations we used to dream about when we were kids, or exceeds it, or maybe falls short. But that moment of realization does not come easily. First, there is a long journey to be taken, a lot of experiences to be fully lived, and a lot of lessons to be learned.

I consider my European Volunteering Service (EVS) in Portugal one of the best experiences that I lived. To say it was a turning point in my life will be an understatement. 

At first, I had to get out of my comfort zone: Journalism. I had been studying and practicing journalism for 3 years. I almost did not know how to do, or even how to be, anything else. I left that to be faced with something I never did before: Work with Preschoolers in non-formal education field! How challenging! But in every challenge, one must not forget that it comes with great responsibility: a responsibility towards these kids, toward the Media Association for Peace (MAP), the organization that I am representing, and to my country, Lebanon, that I am also representing.

Taking part of “Social Bond” project in Lisbon for five months gave me an opportunity to make an impact in our world. I have been working with Rota Jovem (coordinating organization) and Alem (the host one) in Associação 2 De Maio located in Ajuda, on the promotion and Implementation of “social inclusion” for the benefit of children from different backgrounds , including children from the Roma Population (Portuguese gypsy communities). 

The project is based on creating activities for these kids, supporting them emotionally to express themselves, and mentally to create ideas without fear of “failure”. The pallet of activities wasn’t that diverse but full of love and tender: dancing classes, gymnastics, drawing, going to theater, outdoor activities, listening to stories and the “sacred” play time. Besides practicing the previously mentioned activities, my main role was to activate the library and encourage the kids to read.

No one can deny that a six or so year’s old kid can hardly find reading an entertaining activity, so to make it more fun, i helped them to prepare their own handmade bookmarks, so they can use it while reading books at their houses before coming back to school to share the story with their classmates.
In addition to that, we attended several activities together, we shared moments, ideas, traditions, and exchanged knowledge! It’s a beautiful and a hard feeling to-describe, when a six years old child teaches you how to speak. Believe it or not, from the countless language lessons that I took, the ones given by those children are the one I will always remember, and smile when such memories crosses my mind, full credits go back to them and to the educators Nanda and Juliana for teaching me Portuguese. 

Day by day I loved my work more and more, I got attached to those kids, I felt love when entering the class, and I saw in their eyes, the impact I’m doing in their lives. I thought to myself that I have found the true meaning of happiness: Our success is measured by the impact we make in others’ lives.

My EVS in Portugal wasn’t that perfect, I’ve went through ups and downs in my work and personal life as well. An EVS is not a honey moon, but by personal effort it could be! It’s a challenging experience at various levels: professional, psychological, emotional.. Through this experience I became more mature, discovered who I am and who I want to be, I’ve made friends all over the world (starting with my the best roommate and flat mates), we shared ideas, experiences, cultures, traditions and memories together, all under the name of humanity. 

My first time living abroad wasn’t only about working and making friends, it was also about discovering Lisboa: the city of life, and many other places all over Portugal, it’s finding out what makes it special: the streets that I fell in love with, the street art and colorful vintage buildings, the breathtaking beaches, the seafood kitchen and the sweetest desert ever Pastel de Nata! The Fado Music and deep Saudade concept. 

Today, I believe that we are all connected in this world regardless all the borders, so cheers for the experiences that free our souls and renew our spirits to face the world!



terça-feira, abril 02, 2019

Workshop: How to shine in the field of creative industries

This weekend our EVS volunteer Marta from Slovenia organized the workshop „How to shine in the field of creative industries“ and shared her knowledge about it.



Being an official, lawyer or secretary is not for everyone. Some people are more attracted to the creative field as it offers a lot of opportunities for professional self-fulfillment,individual responsibility and creative work. However, this freedom brings challenges as well. How do you know which skills are actually required? How do you make people value  your work and set your prizes?


These questions are especially hard to answer for young people who have little to none experience in the “real“ working world. That is exactly why Marta decided to organize the event to tackle these questions and build the workshop around them what resulted in a vivid discussion among the participants who all come from different fields of creativity. May it be music, arts or graphic design, we had them all! Since there was such a huge variety in the background of the people, questions were answered from a lot of different perspectives. It started with a brainstorming about skills that you need to have in order to succeed in the creative field. Apart from the technical skills, such as knowing how to play an instrument or how to work with specific computer programs, the participants added that their work also includes a lot of interacting with people. Therefore soft skills are very demanded as well. The ability of reading between the lines regarding clients needs was one of the few soft skills that people agreed on as being necessary for example.

One of the next mentioned steps was to learn about the industry. Regarding this it is important to continously inform yourself about possibilities and developments in universities, join associations or creative groups for further collaboration for example and to keep up-to-date. Furthermore, there was a conversation build around the topic of how to get known and how to build your own brand. In this context the importance of networking and the ability of promoting oneself was also strongly emphasized. Regarding the latter aspect, another addressed issue was the advantage of having a portfolio to present yourself. However, most of the participants did not have one and the opinions about that differed. The majority of them said that being active on social media is very important to reach out to potential clients and in a way also easier than a portfolio because the different employers require different types of portfolios. Another possibility of getting known better could be to participate in contests which a lot of the attendees have already done and to engage in the local community.
After having considered all these things the only thing that is left is the implementation. The message of the workshop was clear here: Just do it! It was added that it is important to find a niche in which you can fit and start to gain experience. On the other hand, participants agreed that you also have to get used to rejection as it is part of the process.



In the end, everyone agreed that it would be beneficial to attend more workshops of that kind in order to talk about topics more in detail that have only been touched upon briefly. 

So watch out for more workshops from Marta!

Julia, 02/04/2019

terça-feira, março 19, 2019

Act for you, act for all






It might not be a coincidence, that my EVS project in Portugal has the same message as it was my mission when I was actively working with youths in my home country. My sending organisation PiNA from Slovenia made a great introduction for me with Associação Juvenil Rota Jovem in Cascais, where I spend the most of my portuguese days for 6 months (until July).

Since the arrival in Portugal was quite a quick decision, I let the project to happen in its natural pace. I had a brief picture about the whole experience, since many friends of mine already finished their volunteering abroad but no particular expectations besides discovering the country, nature and culture. Coming to youth organisation, which provides an open space for new ideas for young generations, was a nice surprise with support in the office by answering all my questions which were not very few.



In Rota Jovem I helped to organize the communication plan for this year and so I got a clear picture about the organisation’s annual programme as much as about new events, which are also popping up all the time. Flexibility is crucial for healthy collaboration and I enjoy new points of view or little skills that I gain during the daily office life. I frequently use all my skills of graphic design and in help to prepare the building for the renovation with my architecture experiences. It’s quite rewarding to visit educational institutions where we promote the European mobility and its opportunities for youth. When we share the informations and personal experience to ones, who hear that opportunities are available around the corner, it’s nice to follow the process of discovering and deciding about the future plans. I’m very grateful for the possibility to organise my own events. So far I’ve been trying to gather the running enthusiasts and in next days I want to inspire people for help at beach clean ups and youngsters in creative industries to start their own businesses.



Besides the work occupation it’s the biggest advantage to explore the surroundings and visit all that famous buildings, which I’ve been always observing only in the books during the architecture studies. Since I’m a huge thalassophile (*someone who loves the sea/ocean), it’s amazing for me to get in touch with the ocean and do all kind of outdoor activities with people, who grow up in this environment and conditions. To understand culture itself for me it’s very crucial to meet people with diverse backgrounds, interests and ages.



Living in Lisbon and working in Cascais I found as a privilege, even though I spent a part of the time at the transportation. I can observe the situations in two quite different places and also better understand how the society works. The city of Lisbon itself is very intense and I really love to get in touch with nature every now and then. I’m impressed by all the possibilities which one can find in the city and also sometimes sad, when I observe the impact of massive tourism on local community. It makes me think about my daily decisions as much as future plans. We all have a lot of impact on our surroundings and the least step we can do is that we don’t take them for granted.

Marta 

segunda-feira, março 18, 2019


SOCIAL BOND PROJECT

Montassar Tizaoui from Tunisia



 
I am Montassar Tizaoui from Tunisia. I am living a great volunteering experience in Lisbon. I’m hosted by Rota Jovem and I’m currently working with Associação de Actividades Sociais do Bairro 2 de Maio.

Volunteering in a foreign country and you know what is more? Is that I work with children. These three fundamental factors made of my experience such an amazing one. 


The first important factor is volunteering. One of my principles in life is to devote energy, skills and competences to help others. I strongly believe on sharing and this is what I am doing here. Everything is shared. I share the same house with colleagues. I share my energy and skills with children.

The second factor is that I spend my days with children. I take care of these children as if they were my own. I love them and they love me. I am not parent yet I feel as if I am a ‘daddy’ to so many little ones.


Each day brings new excitements. I start my day with innocent faces, we spend quality time together, and I read stories to them and see different reactions on their small faces. Although I do not speak the same language, I feel that we are all connected and we communicate well. 


I give them advices and I try to facilitate the integration of all children without exception. I know it is huge responsibility to work with children, that is why I pay attention to every single world and action. I feel the importance of contributing to the character’s building of these miniature humans. Let me give you a glance about my daily routine with my angles. Everyday morning we start by drawing or gymnastics, and then it is lunchtime. This is a challenging part of the day. I help them to eat all their food without forcing them. After eating, it is time for them to take a nap. After having a rest they eat their snacks and it is time to dance and play different games.  With their sweet company, time flies so fast. 


The third factor is that I am discovering a new country with a new culture. Lisbon is such an amazing city as it is one of the world's oldest cities. Every day I enjoy the beauty and richness of this place.

Volunteering in a European country and within the field of children care is a very rich experience. I think that I am lucky to have such an opportunity to build up myself and to promote human values. I am learning lessons every single moment and I will go back to my country with many beautiful memories.