Jul 30, 2015

Jump Your Feet Away

Being a volunteer you have to work in different areas and sometimes you see interesting things. Today I am going to tell you about one of these interesting things.

One of the Geração Tecla actions is going to the schools and spending the break with kids called Animação de Recreios . We have three different schools that we visit every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – once per week every school. This activity is something different from all the office work, that sometimes makes you more tired, than a half an hour spend with kids, so it is good, that we have an opportunity to try to find ourselves in different fields.

In all the schools the best game for all the kids is jumping the rope. It reminds me a video of DJ Fresh – Gold Dust. But of course kids are not such professionals yet!

The strangest part is that we are going to three different schools, but that are kind of close to each other, and half of the kids from all the schools live in the same neighborhood and come to the activities after school, but still they jump the rope in different ways.

The kids from Tuesday’s school have a special song when they are jumping a rope and they sing it while jumping and they even have the special way of dealing with the rope.

The kids from Wednesday’s school really enjoy jumping in pairs; or if you allow them, they will try to fit as many as possible to jump. Then, when someone doesn’t manage to jump on time they have to go back to the end of the line while others continues to jump till the last person is left, who is the Master of the rope.

Thursday school’s kids have their own different traditions of jumping the rope. They all line up and then one kid runs in jumps once and runs out and they go like this till the first kid is in the front. The first kid then jumps twice and on and on, till the break is over.

The part I love the most about going to schools is that the kids try to count in English. Ok, firstly we were counting in Portuguese, so now you can wake me up in the middle of the night and I will count you in Portuguese as fast as I can without even thinking till 30! But now, as I already mentioned, the kids are trying more and more to count in English and show us, how much they know.

Once we even   made a special rope like a net that they need to climb through without touching the rope. Of course they were jumping, flying and crawling on the ground like preparing for war. We were even laughing that we are making the little soldiers. But they really are like that especially when they start every 5 minutes to say, that it is too easy and we have to find a way to make the net more difficult to climb through.

Sometimes, it is so nice to feel like a kid and play with them; sometimes we also try to jump the rope or climb the net or play other games. Once we tried to do a relay and they loved it!

Probably the best part of this activity is forgetting everything. You are a kid again and you don’t have any more work to do, just for that half an hour you can crawl on the ground and pretend that you are 5 again and don’t worry about anything!

Jul 29, 2015

Movie nights!

Who doesn’t like a good movie, or just casually to leave the house and go for a cinema? It’s obvious that probably everyone loves movies.

This is the reason why Red Cross Youth people enjoy movies as well.

We are volunteers, so we try to have fun without spending a lot of money. For this reason we are very glad that other organization has an old movie theater and every week they had movie sessions for free.

The movies are normally in foreign language and it’s not English, so it is very fun to watch a movie in a language you don’t understand while reading subtitles that are changing too fast.

Well, the actual fun part is that you can come with all your friends. Bring your own food, enjoy a good movie or not that much of your taste, but you can spend time together with others.

It’s going to cinema, but it’s not going to cinema at the same time. The only thing that feels like movie theater is the room. All the rows going down, the big screen in front of you, and still good sound system. And that is it!

The atmosphere is more like at home, cause as I already have mentioned we tend to bring our food and drinks. It’s like having a movie night at home with friends, lying on the ground and eating homemade pop-corns. Just instead of ground, you have comfortable seats and pop-corns are sometime substituted for wine, but I think it even sounds better.

Nowadays everyone has a busy schedule and not always you can convince people to do something after work. Even going for a coffee might not sound interesting at all. Movies are different, you normally don’t go to movies every day and when someone invites you for a movie session with a sentence: Wanna go for a movie tonight? It’s for free, and it might be bad, but we will have wine? Somehow makes it impossible to say no!

Jul 28, 2015

Missão Sorriso!

Juventude is just a small part of a very big movement. For this reason, it not only has its own projects, but also takes part in some projects that are happening in all Portugal at the same time in all Red Cross Delegations. Today I am going to tell you about one of the projects like that.

The project is called Missão Sorriso (Mission - Smile). It is made in partnership with Continente (Shopping center). The main idea of this project is really nice – to collect food for those who cannot afford to buy it themselves. People, who buy food in Continente can put it in a special Missão Sorriso bags and donate it to the Red Cross volunteers who are collecting the bags next to the cashiers. 

For me it was the first project I participated while doing my EVS. It was in the end of October, so I just have managed to get around with all the things that a happening in Juventude and I already had an opportunity to participate in such a great action.

During this action all the volunteers are divided in 3 groups. The first group gives people flyers with the basic information about this action and explains in short how can they participate and be part. The second group receives all the food donations and gives a very welcoming thank you! The last group consists of strong men, who take all the donations, put them in the storage room and prepare for it all to be taken to the Red Cross.

My Portuguese was still non-existing, so my job was just to collect the food and say a very big thank you with the biggest smile in my face. It was really strange, because I was not expecting that people are donating so much food. It was the first time that it made me feel that I am a real volunteer in Portugal and that I am a part of making someone’s’ life better. The smile on my face was as real and bright as the sun and I was feeling more than amazing!

This action takes place for one weekend (including Friday). All the volunteers of Red Cross delegations tries to be a part of this amazing action by giving at least 3 hours of their time and working in one shift.

It doesn’t matter what is your job during the week, or witch department you work in, on this weekend whole National Society of Red Cross is like a big family that joins together and works as one! This is the spirit that made me see how amazing are everyone and how little you need to make someone’s life a little bit better!

Jul 23, 2015

Language helps you, Language fools you!

Today let’s remember some funny stories. EVS is something really big in a life of a person who goes through this journey. Sometimes you have to deal with upcoming problems and hard work, and sometimes you just smile and say Oh well, it is life.

 So today I want to tell you a story how sometimes language can not only help you but also make some obstacles. Firstly, when I came to Portugal to do my EVS I knew just a little bit of Portuguese. Actually now, I think, that at that time I have convinced myself pretty well that I knew a little bit of Portuguese. I could understand some things, but talking part was as for everyone really hard.

I decided to work extra to faster improve my level. From one side, it was really easy, because I spent a lot of time working with kids, and it is normal, that they still don’t speak English, or their English is even worse than mine non-existing Portuguese. However, kids just had some specific questions in the beginning so it was not that hard to be in their level, but I wanted more.

I asked some Portuguese friends, if they know any ways how I could improve my Portuguese. They were really kind and said that reading books really help. So I started to read in Portuguese. By the way, I also had a course in the university, but as I already said I wanted to improve faster.

First book was really hard – I basically was translating every other word, but ok I managed to read it. However, maybe the main idea got lost in the way… Like in any language in Portuguese as well are some words that are written similar, but the meaning is totally different. In my fist book I would always encounter with the word sido – that in Portuguese is a past tense of to be, but at that time I didn’t have a fancy dictionary that could tell me that, and sida – is AIDS, so in my imagination, all the guys in the book had aids, because this word I managed to find. It was a little bit strange, but you know, it is a book anything can happen.

The next book I took had pastor alemão, that in the beginning sounded ok – a German pastor, but then the German pastor was always following one guy, it became weird and I finally figure out that it’s not a German pastor like some kind of priest, it’s German Sheppard – a dog! But as long as I managed to convince myself that what I was reading was true, I had more than interesting books!

I am still reading books and improving my vocabulary and the structure of the sentence, just sometimes I read words how I see them, not how they are written and for that reason, sometimes people don’t understand me. Like I was talking about cacatriz, and no one knew what it was, because a scar is cicatriz. Or I saw a little nice saparinho in the sky and no one else could see it, because there were only passarinhos!

I think every language is interesting to learn, with all the crazy stories of all the wrong interpretations of the words or phrases. But the most important thing is to try and not be afraid later to make fun of yourself!

Jul 21, 2015

Copos... Quem Decide és Tu!

 Copos... Quem Decide és Tu. (Drinks…You Decide!) - Project that work in close relation with schools, promoting non-formal education methods and tools for responsible alcohol consumption.

Finally, one description - that says it all. Actually, there is not that much to add, but of course, I will add.

Copos... Quem Decide és Tu!, first of all, is a project that is running in the national level and is happening all around the Portugal, so probably other Red Cross Youth Departments could also share their stories what Copos... Quem Decide és Tu! is for them, but today, as lately, it will be my interpretation.

This project, as written above, is being realized in the schools like +Atitude or some actions of Geração Tecla, but of course it is different. Copos... Quem Decide és Tu! is a project about alcohol consumption so the target group is older students.

What I like about Copos... Quem Decide és Tu! is that it is not like your parent telling you what not to do or what to do, but letting you decide what is better for you. It’s not about stopping youth from consuming alcohol, because it’s obvious it is not going to happen, but more like teaching them how to consume alcohol with moderation.

As all the projects they have the theoretical part, when they explain youth what are the consequences of drinking too much alcohol and what to take in consideration while drinking (to drink water between the cups of alcohol, know your limits, and etc.).

Another part is way more interesting – the practical part. I like it a lot, because they try to show the youth what are the consequences of drinking while playing games. They have several games and normally the session takes around 3-4 hours, but it is so fun, that neither you nor they want to stop. One of the games is imitating a Night Out, with all the parts, from going for a coffee, dinner, a bar for a drink after, a disco and finally fast food bar on the way home, where you can still drink some things. After every time someone takes a drink (they just say, no one really gives them drinks!) we tight their hands or legs or block their vision, to show how the alcohol will affect them, and in every place they visit after taking a drink or not, they need to do some tasks, that seems impossible after being tight up!

It’s a great project, for the youth to understand the consequences of drinking. No one is saying that you cannot drink, just ways how to drink, that you and your friends would have a great night!     

Jul 16, 2015

Who we are?

Today I am going to talk about us – the EVS volunteers. I don’t want to make a profile of everyone. I was thinking that it would be nice to remember at least one thing what we did here and, of course, we are still not over with our journey and there are way more things that we did or still do.

Anna – a German girl, with an artist soul and mind with imagination.
One morning she decided that one meeting room is not nice enough so she took a marker to her hand and in few days a simple white wall was updated with an artistic picture of Henry Dunant.

Kim – a German guy with golden hands who can fix anything.
He has a lot of great ideas what to make with kids and he is very good in explaining how things work. These chairs are just one of the projects he developed with kids in the community center of Prado.

Marta – a Spanish girl who loves Mickey Mouse.
For this reason she choose a Mickey mouse as her muse to create a mask for the carnival as a prototype for kids to have more ideas for their own masks.

José - a Spanish guy with a great humor sense.
He works in Prado together with Kim, normally with adults, but this time he was trying to teach how to make a Spanish omelet to the youth.

George – a Romanian guy who is a master of graphic design.
One day he decided to leave the office for a while and made a presentation for kids about how the animation movies are made!

Giedre – a Lithuanian girl who is writing all the blogs.
One day I also decided that my imagination is being trapped while spending too much time in the office so I made some pillows to decorate the school.

So this is it, this is us. We are the lucky 6 volunteers who are here in Braga since October. We share the same house, most of us work in the same office and we are going to stay here for exactly 12 months!

Jul 15, 2015

Day J

The Day J is another amazing tradition of Juventude. It’s an event that takes place in the summer when some of the projects come to end, because they are concentrated on schools so it is normal that when schools are closed the project is not running on the fastest gear. 

So this Day J- Day of Juventude is the event of closing the year. After this, normally everyone starts to go on holidays and the office is becoming more and more quiet. It’s a great opportunity to gather around together before saying long or not so long goodbyes to each other.

Normally, the event takes place in the nature. Braga is a city that can provide you hundreds of places of nature – it is surrounded by the mountains from all the sides. This year the Day J happened last week and  took place in Bom Jesus, one of the main attraction points in the city and the best nature park around.

The event consisted of a lot of team building activities, because they are the best! Everyone had fun doing different tasks and supporting each other. The entire group was divided into teams and of course there is no better way to build a team than by challenging each other. Starting from walking on one pair of slides (in a group); to making a stretcher from scratch and carrying each other.

Another part of the day was picnic. Everyone had to bring something to eat and share with others. It is not that strange that everyone brought too much food, but I think it happens every time, when you are thinking not only about yourself but also about a friend who will sit next to you.

The afternoon was more active with a lesson of Zumba where everyone was able to pump the energy back after the fulling picnic. What is more, the weather was more than great, it was actually really hot for this reason a session of balloon fight to fresh up and another picnic to finish up the day.

The day ended everyone were tired, but as well really happy. It’s a good way to rush up to summer, but also remember who are important to you!

Jul 14, 2015

+ Atitude

+Atitude (Attitude +): Project established in several schools of Braga, with office hours and working sessions, working with youngsters from middle school, to create awareness for the effects of drugs and develop social and personal skills, in order to achieve drugs prevention.
In my opinion, this project is a little bit similar with Geração Tecla, but at the same time very different. As written earlier + Atitude works with kids and teenagers and have different projects that can be done with kids. Just the kids are different. Mainly, +Atitude is a bigger project, cause they work with several different schools and the impact is not concerned mainly to one special group of kids, but they are trying to do drugs prevention projects with all of them.

So let’s start from the beginning. What does +Atitude do in schools? Firstly, they have theoretical presentations about drug prevention. They also spend one morning or afternoon per week in each school, at a special office where students and teachers can come and talk about themselves or people they are concerned with and try to find some answers. What is more, they do some more non-formal education activities, like trying to show the kids that their free time can be better occupied with sports than with risky behaviors, by making, for example, a lot of different sport activities during the school year.

Another place of intervention is after school activities, like mentioned before can be sports or music, but also they have private after school sessions, where one volunteer helps maximum 3 kids at the same time to develop their study skills. Of course, they try to do it one on one so that the kid would get more comfortable and could better open up. I think this is one of the most amazing experiences that anyone can have. Sharing your knowledge with others and being that Big Brother or Sister for someone, who really needs that, is the real volunteering.

And finally, +Attitude is responsible for another project +Saúde –Riscos (More Health, Less Risks). This project is for academic festivals. Like here in Braga there is one huge festival for the university students that happens in May and takes place for one whole week. During that time, in the place of festival +Atitude has a tent there people can come in time of crisis. In the first part of the night volunteers walk around the campus of the festival, giving information about drugs and alcohol, as well as providing protection material. Later during the night they are dealing with crisis and trying to help people with, for example, panic attacks. And in the end of the night they do alcohol tests to prevent drunk driving.

All in all, during the whole year there are many different places where a person can contribute to the +Atitude and become not just a better volunteer, but also a better person!

Jul 9, 2015

Casual week of a EVS (Giedre)

Actually it is really hard to write how the week of volunteer looks like. The main fact is that volunteering is somewhere out of routine and you can never know what is going to happen. However, I will try to make at least some guide lines how it would look.

Down here you can see my week, and now I will try to explain in more details what is what. It's just my week and other volunteers have different schedules, so don't think that everyone does the same things!

School/             JCV in Action
Ponto Vermelho
Ponto Vermelho
JCV in Action
Ponto Vermelho

Portuguese classes
Atelear Creativo
Portuguese classes

So let’s start from the beginning. Monday is a really good day to start work. It can go slowly for you to get in the mood of work, so here is no pressure (normally). Usually I come to the office around 9:30-10:00. This is the time to find out what things are more important to work on and what things I can leave to be done for later during the week.

As I am a part of a project JCV in action, the work there is never like a routine. You never know what might come up and working with international projects is really fun. Like few months ago I would have spent my Mondays while reading CVs of people who want to be the next EVS and I have read more than 100 of CV and Motivation Letters. Believe me it takes a lot of time. So normally my Monday goes while working on the things of JCV in Action. After work on Mondays I have classes of Portuguese.

Tuesday stars with some kids’ action. I go to school for the long break of half an hour to play with them. After school, back to the office to think of, what we might want to do this evening in the Atelear Creativo. After lunch it’s Ponto Vermelho. There normally on Tuesdays we have to do the checking of the clothes that arrive with our lovely Carrinha and to pick witch ones will go to the shop and which ones will go to the famous Lixo (trash)– it’s basically the only word you need to understand in Ponto. After Ponto we have some time for quick food and after there is Ateliar Creativo. There we normally do some crafts with kids.

Wednesday morning is also either going to school (a different one) or staying in the office and helping with JCV in action things. Afternoon is all for the JCV in Action work where we work on international projects, EVS and everything that is connected with Erasmus+ or other possible programs. After Office there is another Portuguese class and half of the week is done.

Thursday morning is for school or writing this lovely blog, or working on Facebook page of Ponto Vermelho. In the afternoon is again Ponto. There on Thursdays we normally get the Carrinha again and we are till our necks with bags of things to check.

Friday morning is again in Ponto, but on Fridays we arrange the shop and make it look nicely, as well we think of some ideas to improve the appearance of the shop and ways how to make it more appealing.

Friday afternoons I have free, but it was not all the time like this.

The schedule of the Portuguese classes changed, and there was a period between the courses (we are lucky and we got 2 semesters of Portuguese classes in the university of Minho), when we had more work in the office. As well in the summer there will be no school and there will be more projects to occupy kids, so the schedule will change again.

For now, my schedule is like this, with some tiny changes that appear during some unplanned events.



Jul 8, 2015

Dinners of Juventude

For those who might not know, the Youth department of Red Cross Portugal in Braga is working since 2005. Well, Red Cross of Portugal is working for already 150 years, but I still think that for the Youth department is already pretty great amount of years. Why am I talking about years? Because with years comes traditions.

Today I want to tell you about one really great tradition that exists in Juventude – Monthly dinners.

Families from time to time gather together to have a meal, talk with people that might not have seen for a while, or just enjoy a lovely company. Juventude also does the same. Every first Wednesday of the month normally during the day you can already notice that something is strange. Normally, because in the second part of the day the office becomes more and more crowded.

Sometimes I even forget how many people are in Juventude, but on the day of the dinner it’s really easy to remember that. All the corners of the office fill up with smiling faces. Some look like it’s been years since the last time they saw each other and cannot stop talking and sharing all the things that had happened during that time. Others are already planning the next dinner. And of course there is still someone who has to work, but of course at that moment the motivation is not the highest of them all.

And then the moment comes. Everybody leaves Juventude and goes for a family dinner. Normally, the dinner is in the restaurant next to the Juventude, probably because of this, everybody starts to gather around way earlier.

When everybody is finally seated the dinner starts. Of course, as normally there are like 30 people or more on the dinner after the main meal, or even just after soup, the rotation party begins. Everybody wants to talk to everybody, for this reason the seats are changed, but conversations continues.

I remember my first dinner. We, the new EVS volunteers, had to make a presentation about ourselves for the people to know where they can use us, and after we had a dinner. It was my first week there, and of course I didn’t already know anyone, but it was really amazing. During the dinner, some people already started coming to me, with ideas where I could be a help, and I already started to feel like a part of a big family.

 Traditions are good. They make you feel like a part of something. And this dinner tradition makes you feel like a part of a family, even if you are far away from your real family!