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!