This week we found ourselves in the beautiful small town of Amarante for an ESC volunteer camp about sustainability and healthy living. The 4 days we stayed there were full of interesting people and great moments. We had the opportunity to participate in a lot of fun activities the volunteers had prepared for us and also attend a few workshops. One of the best things of this trip was the people that we met, some of which we already knew from our on- arrival training, and our time spent together sharing our experiences as ESC volunteers and our projects’ initiatives.
We started with some games at the beach to get to know each other, followed by some swimming in the river. (Ioanna jumped off a big rock!). At night, we painted a big mural and watched the meteor shower in the night sky.
The next day the program had some more games followed by a workshop in the forest about composting. After that, in groups, we created our own short videos promoting sustainability. The day ended with a private concert.
Last day started with another interesting workshop about fairtrade and change and continued with some kayaking at the river. In the afternoon some volunteers offered to cook food from their countries (Luca made tiramisù for everyone!).
Leaving is always the hardest part, especially after having so much fun together and bonding. We are glad we had the opportunity to meet all these amazing people and learn so many things.
We are really excited because this month we finally started at the kindergarten!
The connection with the kids was instant. They are amazing and seem very happy about our presence. They love playing with us and want to show us everything. Also, the teachers have been very helpful to us regarding the language and the execution of activities that we prepare. One big barrier so far has been the language, as we are still learning it, but we still find ways to communicate with the kids when we don’t understand each other. Some kids are even trying to teach us words in Portuguese.
The first activity we decided to do was the Olympic Games as it started on the same day that the Tokyo Olympics 2020 began! We talked about some Olympic traditions in ancient Greece and presented some of the current Olympic sports. After that, we “lit” the Olympic torch in the ceremony. We had prepared an obstacle course, a shot put game and a small relay race.
In the end we did the awarding ceremony, gave medals and olive tree wreaths. The kids loved the games and were very proud about the outcome.
During this month we also had the opportunity to help the school with the food bank in which we prepared and handed out boxes of food supplies for families who need it.
It’s already been a month since we arrived and we feel like time is running so fast. We used the first weeks to adjust to the new place and get to know the neighborhood. We had our first contact with the language, using the Erasmus OLS and Duolingo and later we completed the ESC on-arrival online training course, in which we met a lot of other volunteers and made friends. It was really fun and we learned a lot of things.
During this period, we had the opportunity to learn more about the Portuguese culture, as we arrived right on time to experience São João, the biggest holiday in Porto. Because of the Covid19 restrictions we couldn’t party on the street, as they do every year, but we had the chance to attend a Portuguese family’s São João barbeque dinner. In combination with Portugal playing in a Euro Cup match that day, it was a big celebration. We watched the game (it ended in a 2-2 draw so we also learned some bad words), learned about São João’s costumes and ate traditional food. After the dinner we moved to the terrace and tried chiripiti (a local drink), danced to folk music and watched the fireworks. We ended the night by lighting the São João lanterns (after many attempts because only 1/5 survives the fire) and the sky looked like it was full of stars.
We can’t wait to visit more places, have more experiences and meet new people here. We are also really excited to visit the kindergarten and start working on our activities. One thing is for sure: we are going to enjoy every moment of it.
June was my last month here and now, unfortunately, I am preparing to come back home.
My time at the kindergarten was great and it has been really difficult to say goodbye, my last day there has been absolutely special. The teachers and the kids prepared some surprises and present for us and it was really emotional. They gave me a tote bag decorated by the kids and a book with all the painting from them. These gifts are the best souvenir I could ask for and I am happy I will bring them with me in Italy.
The new Volunteers just arrived and it was nice to welcomed them and the help with the little things and give them advice about the life here in Gaia and with the Portuguese language. So, good luck guys, enjoy your adventure!
My relationship with the kids and the teachers helped me to learn and improve my Portuguese and at the end of this project I have to say that I am proud of the level I have reached. Studying languages is definitely one of my biggest passion and being able to speak with locals and understand so many words make me happy every day. I hope I won’t forget everything while back in Italy and that I will be able to speak this amazing language again in the future.
I am so grateful for this experience, I have learned so much about this country and about myself as well. I am sure this is not a real goodbye 😉
Here you can see what we did this week with the Gaiac team!
First of all we didn’t expected any of this because it was a suprise for us! It was nice to have a break from work and discover Portugal a bit more 🙂
On Tuesday we went to the Parque Biológico de Gaia, a park where you can find a lot of different species of animals native to Portugal (more than 1000 wild species of animals and plants!)
We really enjoyed this day also because we didn’t really expect to find such a big green area in the middle of a city. It was very relaxing to walk surrounded by the woods while listening to the sounds of the birds. For Marttiina everything was especially exotic because as a Finn she is naturally only used to reindeer and snow. In addition it was nice to see that it was not a zoo with small cages but there were a lot of big areas where there were free!
But we are not finished yet…
On Thursday we left Gaia for another ADVENTURE(with a good company!)
What do you think about Barcelos? We can assure you that it is worth to visit:)
This city is most known of course for the roosters, but there’s more to it! We found it very cute and at the same time really colorful, you can see a lot of flowers on the street and big roosters made of wood everywhere. We think Barcelos is characteristic also because of the historical center and the traditional market we had the possibility to visit (where Chrysa and Laura were taken to paradise with delicious croissants for 0,50€). After a vegan friendly lunch we went to the Parque Natural Litoral Norte where we walked for a reeeeeeally long path until the ocean.
To sum up, it was a great week for us and we have really enjoyed everything and we are greatful for this quality time we got to have.
After two months of lockdown we finally started working in the kindergarten and we couldn’t be happier! Coming from a completely different culture and with working 0 days in a kindergarten in my life, it took some time to get used to the daily routine but day by day everything got easier. Being a part of a class with about 20 3-year-olds can get a bit chaotic from time to time but just being around them makes me so happy and I’ve learned a lot of new things. For example, what might seem to me just 3 blocks of legos can be a car, then an airplane or suddenly a mountain.
Even though my Portuguese level was close to nothing in the beginning, the kids didn’t seem to mind at all. One trick I learned was to point at things and ask “O que é isso?”, obviously pretending I totally know the word in Portuguese when actually the kids were the ones teaching me. Little by little I’m understanding more more and now I’m quite fluent in names of the animals and colours!
This week we painted the northern lights with the kids by using water colours and the results were pretty cool! The northern lights are something very special and beautiful about Finland and other nordic countries and the kids were excited about painting the magical lights of the northern sky. Here are some pictures of them!
Last month we started working at the kindergarten and I couldn’t be happier.
I am really enjoying my time at the school, the kids are amazing, they are really curious about us and our culture and the teachers welcomed me in the best way and they always make me feel included and part of the class.
It took some days to get used to everything, at the beginning I was trying to communicate with some Italian words and a lot of gesture but now I can understand almost everything (If they speak slowly) and I am trying my best to communicate with the kids in Portuguese.
Last week we prepared several activities about Italy and the Italian culture. First of all, I have shown the kids some Italian monuments and videos about Italy, after that we made the Italian flag with different type of Pasta, we danced Italian Tarantella, prepared some Pizzas with colored paper and on the last day we prepared REAL pizzas. The kids were really excited about these activities and their reaction made me feel really appreciated and satisfied.
I am sure in the next weeks we will do other interesting activities and games with the kids.
This is my Portuguese translation!
No mês passado eu comecei a trablahar na escola e estou muito feliz.
As crianças são maravilhosas, eles são muito curiosias e os professoras me fazem sentir parte da turma.
Eu estou a tentar de comunicar com meninos e os profesorras no Portuguese, na primeira dias estava dificil e tentei gesticular mais agora percevo tudo (quase tudo) e estou muito feliz.
Semana passada fizemos atividades sobre a Itália, uma bandeira com massas pintadas, dançamos as danças Italianas e preparamos pizzas. Os meninos ficaram muito felizes e por isso fiquei muito satisfeita. Com certeza nas próximas semanas prepareremos outras atividades maravilhosas.
Here some photos at the kindergarten during the activities! 🙂
Οla a todos !Como esta? I would like to make an update about what is happening during the EVS. Life in Portugal is really good, happy, colorful and very cheap as I already mentioned at my last post. I would say that it’s the perfect choice to join an EVS here. Even with the COVID situation you can enjoy everything here (safety first!) .
About the volunteering stuff, I couldn’t be happier with the environment and the people in the kindergarten. The problem with the language becomes easier day by day. During the last weeks I am also available to understand the kids and give them some directions and I am proud of myself. The teachers are always welcome to every idea I have, always available to try new things that I recommend. Also, my favorite part is when we combine things and ideas and the results are amazing. Even if we have any problem, people from Gaiac and the kindergarten are always there to solve it. Of course I can’t do my activities every day, but following a schedule and the daily routine there, everything becomes so smooth and relaxing. Here I’m going to show you some stuff that we made during these weeks.
Here as you can see they planted some beans after we read the famous story ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ in Portuguese . On the next photo they are making a castle of a very soft matterial.We still waiting for the beans to grow up and make the fairytale true!
As the kids love colors, we paint a lot of stuff in the kindergarten.I should admit that sometimes I’m jealous of that, so I join them while they are painting 🙂
Through this ESC I’m trying to make them understand (but I also learn from them) how important is the value of tolerance, how to accept the differencies and how to treat everyone equally . Of course we do all of these things in through games,stories,colors and songs.
This was my short update about my life here. I wish you like it.
This is our second month here and we would like to share with you what we have been up to.
In the first month we were getting to know each other better and discovered similarities and differences. After some days, unfortunately, Laura was in a culture shocked by discovering that Marttiina and Chrysa prepared overcooked pasta with cinnamon and ketchup. Obviously, Laura doesn’t want to be kicked out of her family, so she decided not to tell her grandmas.
Because of the lockdown our main outing was going to the supermarket and look for the best prices (an important skill for an ESC participant). Marttiina became crazy about Portuguese oranges by reaching an average of 4 oranges a day.
Gaiac team welcomed us at the headquarters and they are teaching us Portuguese, we are trying to do our best even if we don’t have the possibility to interact with locals. (apart from the grocery)
By hoping to see the kids from the kindergarten soon we are preparing a puppet show in Portuguese that we can’t wait to show them and receiving their feedback. (esperando que eles possam entender nosso português) and like the story we invented.
Last week we had the on-arrival training for ESC volunteers, also if it was online it was a great opportunity to meet other volunteers in the same situation as us. In this week we discovered new tools and skills that will be useful for our volunteering experience.