Experiencia del Cuerpo Europeo de Solidaridad

Experiencia de Sandra en Sao Pedro da Cova, Portugal

«My final conclusion of the experience is good, I think everyone should do it once in their life, change their life, lose the fear and start in a new place, new culture, language and work»

Proyectos europeos
Becarios Erasmus
Socios internacionales

Mi experiencia

My name is Sandra Felipe González and in September 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, I decided to apply for a volunteering project in Sao Pedro da Cova, Portugal; why did I choose Portugal? Because being so close to my country, I realised that I knew almost nothing about its culture, geography, history or language and I thought that a good way to get to know all this was through a Social Volunteering project, specifically this one, because it was a project aimed at working with people with disabilities and mental illness and it is a field that I like and I find interesting. The arrival in Portugal was complicated because of the pandemic situation caused by Covid19, I had to spend 15 days in quarantine. After this period, the arrival at the association was not easy either, I felt lost because I did not know what I had to do, there was a clear linguistic shock and in general, arriving in a new place, new city, new language is a process of adaptation that takes time, but I must say that I felt very well supported and welcomed by the users of the association, they made everything easier for me. As I said, the process of total integration takes time and the situation of Covid19 did not make it easy, as we had to live a very strict confinement three months after arriving and teleworking, in the middle of a rainy winter, so this delayed the process of adaptation in the association and in all aspects, luck was a wonderful volunteer companion who was a fundamental support during the whole time. When the confinement ended the users still took a few weeks to return to the association and the truth is that it became a bit heavy, when they came back around the end of March, it was when I really started to enjoy the experience of volunteering, to do more activities with them, new projects and tasks that gave us a dynamic of work that was very important for our development for the association. But at the precise moment that we felt integrated and with working guidelines, unfortunately, we got infected by Covid19 and it was a really complicated and hard month, but we managed to pick ourselves up again with enthusiasm for the end of the volunteering. As for the preparation before the volunteering, it was a training with a lot of information about the necessary documentation and about the volunteering projects, but really each project is different and the initial preparation is very general, during the course of the volunteering, we did two more trainings, one on arrival and another intermediate one, both interesting trainings, with excellent trainers, where we could meet other volunteers who were in Portugal, we shared experiences, we gave each other advice and support and it was quite good when it came to direct our respective projects.

The activities I carried out as a volunteer were of different styles and accompanying different projects. First of all I will talk about my own activities with the users, for example I did a Tangram game with the users, a rhythm game with music for the motor agility of the upper body and a puzzle to promote motor skills in the hands and fingers. We also built an autumn mural with the users, it was a team work, there were different activities and everybody participated and it was fun. I have participated in all the activities carried out with the participants, from outings outside to see theatre plays, outings to go on walks to collect rubbish and outings to play traditional games to activities carried out within the association, artistic and physical activities, traditional music…etc.

During the confinement the work system obviously changed, we moved to teleworking and during that time we did a work on the differences and similarities between Spanish and Portuguese culture in different aspects and we also elaborated a work on feminism, starting from texts and news about this movement in Portugal we developed a questionnaire in blocks to investigate more in the society about this topic. 

When the confinement ended, we developed a puppet theatre project focused on giving visibility to the existing inequalities between men and women in society, it was a project that cost us a lot to carry out, developing a script, creating puppets, scenery, recording, editing, it was hard work but the result for being the first time developing a theatrical piece from scratch was very good and I am very happy to have succeeded.

On the other hand, I have been part of the support of the PALCOS project, which consists of building a theatre piece from the beginning to the end, construction of scenery, creation of dialogues, music, dances and everything related to artistic activities. I really enjoyed being part of this project and seeing how the users grew with it, the development has been interesting and fun and the relationship with the people in charge of the project has been very good, I think we have complemented each other well, I have learnt a lot from them and I hope to see the final result of the project soon.

I have also been part of the support and adaptation of a new user with whom I have worked in the mornings, it has been a complicated process since the adaptation was not easy. Together with another volunteer, we developed a set of activities to be carried out with this user every morning, the activities were mainly focused on the acquisition of mathematical, linguistic and emotional competences. I think it was a complicated but well done job, I think we fulfilled the initial purpose which was to contribute to the integration of the user and help him to acquire skills and meet his objectives on a small scale, on a personal and professional level I grew a lot with this particular work and it was satisfying to see the positive progress. I was also part of the linguistic support of another user who had problems with language, I developed a series of activities to work with him and help him with pronunciation, the activities consisted of oral exercises to improve his pronunciation skills, pronunciation of different sounds or letters, until he managed to pronounce simple words correctly, the work was very rewarding, the user was always eager to learn and work and seeing his progress was very satisfying.

Finally I will talk about the personal project done together with the other volunteer, an own project on Portuguese gestural language, which motivated us from the first minute, we saw a need in the association, a person with hearing impairment, who had to make real efforts to communicate, we explored it, we researched about it, about the history of deaf culture in the world, the development of education for the deaf in Portugal and the existing need to have interpreters to favour the inclusion and integration of these people in society, in a self-taught way and following tutorials on Youtube, we started to learn basic things of the Portuguese gestural language and we recorded a series of videos with basic things:

Video 1: greetings.
Video 2: days of the week, months and seasons of the year.
Video 3: family and feelings.
Video 4: animals.
Video 5: simple foods and fruits.

Video 6: colours and clothes.
Video 7: words related to school.
These videos show us performing the basic words, on each of the topics, in sign language and were edited with Portuguese subtitles.
I am really happy with the result of the project, we would have liked to continue with it, because we think it is really necessary both in the association and in the community in general. With this project I have grown a lot personally and professionally and it has been really important to have had the opportunity to put it into practice with the users and to make a small approach to the deaf culture and a small step for the education in diversity.

Mi experiencia

Mi experiencia

In terms of strengths, I think that the main one has been the relationship with the users, a very significant bond was created with them, I think that there was a reciprocal learning, they have been a very important pillar, as they have been the people by whom I have felt most included, loved and integrated, we have been a team and I will always remember them with a special affection and another fundamental pillar for me has been my volunteer partner, she has been a great support and we have become a family. However, although this part was really good, there were also big challenges, the first one was the language which made communication a bit complicated but soon after the beginning of the stay this barrier was overcome and also thanks to the help of the OLS support, another big challenge was the integration in the work team because at the beginning everything is new and you don’t find your place, but finally everything came together and obviously the biggest challenge of all was to manage to work and integrate into the association and the community at the time of Covid19, this was a big barrier firstly because of the confinements and secondly because I was infected and it was a difficult process to overcome, but in the end everything makes us stronger. And finally, another big challenge for me was sharing a house with so many people from a totally different culture to mine, sharing a room and not having that privacy has been complicated for me as I had never shared before, that generated a lot of stress but in the end everything is overcome.

I think that the main results were total integration, being able to work and contribute to the association’s projects, as I said before, I think that the process has been a reciprocal learning process, the impact has been positive for the group and the contribution as a volunteer I feel has been very good for them, I think I have given the best of myself and the results confirm this. On a personal level I feel that I have grown a lot as a person, I have faced the challenges, I have overcome them and I have enjoyed the experience to the maximum, I think that I have been a very active volunteer and I have participated with the group and been part of it, this has made me learn and acquire new skills that will be useful in the future both in my private life and in the work environment; I have become a more assertive person, I feel that I have exploited my problem-solving skills to the maximum, I have acquired new language skills by learning Portuguese, I think that my communication skills and my mental speed have increased, I have become a more empathetic person and I have learned to separate work from home and to deal with stress and stress. On the other hand, in technical skills I have learned how to edit videos with different programmes, how to do different artistic activities, how to create stories for theatre, how to make sets, I have improved my coordination skills with different sports activities and I have learned about traditional games.

I recommend applying to volunteer projects, in this case the association gave me the opportunity to share my experience in a Vocational School, with teenagers and talk to them about my role or role within the association, the motivation to apply to the project and how the process was, this was very good for me, to improve my communication skills.
My final conclusion of the experience is good, I think everyone should do it once in their life, change their life, lose the fear and start in a new place, new culture, language and work, I think the personal growth with this experience is incredible and it will symbolize a before and after. 

¿Qué incluyen nuestras plazas?


Un billete de Ida y Vuelta

Curso idiomas

Aprenderás el idioma del país

Dinero bolsillo

Cantidad fija al mes para tus gastos

Alojamiento y gastos casa

La casa y los gastos los cubre el programa


Seguro gratis accidentes y responsabilidad civil


Tendrás una cantidad para comida y gastos corrientes

Pide tu plaza

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