Boarding!

Going somewhere

Heading to somewhere pretty soon!

Athens? Dublin? Paris? Madrid? Cherokee?

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In the Spotlight with… Rita Mendes!

In the Spotlight with… began as a little project in my previous blog (Take the Plunge), in which I invited friends from all around Europe, who were crazy enough to become EVS volunteers in Lithuania, to share a bit about themselves and the projects they were developing.
I have now decided to resurrect this idea and invited my dear friend Rita, who recently became a volunteer in Lithuania as well, to share her thoughts.
Live from Biržai (Lithuania)!

Who is Rita? Be brief.
1,70 cm, brown hair and eyes… Well, that is difficult. I think Rita is a strict person, concerning the things which really interest. I consider myself as tolerant in many different ways and subjects, but that doesn’t mean absence of criteria or limit. Actually, I have my ideas quiet well defined but I always try to understand the others around me. If I do not understand them, how will I expect that someone will understand me? I like to meet with different people, but I also cherish having my own space and time. I like to think about issues but also to enjoy a very good moment just by emotions. I care about people in general, but even more the ones I really like. I’m not a person of having many people around, unless it means to party! I could say a lot, but I think this is enough.

Santa Rita

What made you decide to become a volunteer? Both as an EVSer (European Voluntary Service volunteer) and in your previous experiences?
The need and willingness to help and know people more.
Regarding the need to help: please don’t see this on the romantic way of showing off and being kind just to say that to the world. For me that is not the real volunteering or kindness. I simply believe that all of us have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s in our power to use the good we have in ourselves, share it (it can be simply a conversation with someone else) and with that we may change a life. We are not all born in the same places, we don’t naturally have the same access to good weather, food, money or even knowledge.
I believe I can help someone through different actions, by sharing my knowledge, helping to cross a street, having a good conversation, … I think the aim should be always one: make the people with whom I interact with better in a certain way. This feeling fulfils me a lot.
About knowing more people the reason is short: I think we become more complete as human beings as much we know about other human beings. And we just achieve that the most when we contact with different ways of living, different realities. It shows us how small we are and give us much more sensibility and human tolerance and conscience.


It is normal for people to make stereotypes, especially when you are unfamiliar with the subject. Introduction aside, what were your thoughts on Lithuania before being there?
Actually, I did not have that much information about Lithuania. For me it was a country as any other of this unknown European region, where I had no idea about lifestyle or people. When I searched for EVS program it was one of the reasons that made me choose this country. Meanwhile, during research I learnt a bit more about it and also could talk with some people who already had gone there and it was essential to decide. Besides, having a friend (YOU) that made EVS in Lithuania helped me making the decision and knowing more about the strong and difficult weather, the food or some aspects of lifestyle.

What is a typical day for you in Biržai?
Well, I wake up at 7:30 every weekday, walk to my working place, the “Biržų krašto muziejus – Sėla”. I work there from 9:00 to 16:00 and have one lunch hour. Usually I go to have lunch at 12:00 with my tutor and my partner, also savanoris (volunteer), Natalia. We go to the public canteen, Valgykla, where we meet lots of locals: policemen, teachers, museum staff and others.
In the museum the tasks are many and we don’t usually do the same things everyday. We work on texts to prepare tours in English and other educational programs that museum offers, also attend to some workshops and prepare and give lessons, give ideas and discuss about what to improve in the museum.
After work, around 16:00, I usually go to the supermarket to buy groceries or for a coffee. Sometimes I go together with other volunteers to the gym or to attend a sports’ event. I am usually at home by 18:00, since it is very cold and gets dark very early. Occasionally we (all the volunteers) meet in someone’s flat to have some tea and enjoy the time together. The typical time to go to bed is 22h30 +/-.

Besty

Be honest, how is your Lithuanian going?
Well not that good, unfortunately. It is a very difficult language and I was not expecting that. Everything is different, from sounds to way of thinking and of course the words. So until now I just barely understand some words or usual expressions. But I am determined on learning it. I want to be able to communicate with everyone here and I feel that the language is in fact a barrier.


Have you already discovered something about yourself during the time you’ve been in Lithuania?
I don’t think so. At least not that clearly. I think it’s too soon for answering this question with a clear response. We are always changing ourselves and finding something more about us. Here is no exception. Maybe things are more intense in the way we live because everything is new, and maybe it will result in a bigger exposition of our personality. But until now I didn’t think on that too much.

Snowy Biržai

Now for the cliché one: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Well, still have no idea. That is the one million question! But doing something related to my course, physics and bio-engineering, making more volunteering actions or doing something related to my ‘’passion’’ arts. In fact I have some ideas, but still being developed inside.

IMG-20180120-WA0003

If you had to give some advice to future EVS volunteers, what would you say?
To choose properly the project they want because it would be half of their daily time and a good project is half of the way. To try to know the most about their receiving organisation and have some previous feedback because it will influence the way some personal problems will be solved and the accommodation conditions, which also depend on the place of the project.
Being conscience about which are the rights and the duties of each involved part, since they will be our “laws’ during EVS program.
Besides, to try to enjoy the most and take the best part of what this experience is. We have a freedom to be ourselves and improve the skills we want, sharing it in a multicultural way that is extremely rich.
Each one make their own experience. Make it worth your while.

Obrigado Santa Rita!

Postcard

Ahead of Christmas I came home to find this in the mailbox.

Gran Canaria

Written in German and addressed to me and my sister:

Liebe Catherina, Lieber Viktor, viele liebe Grüße aus sendet Euch Wilfried + Maia aus Ungarn. Danke für Euren Kartengruß gut zu wissen, dass ihr gut wieder in Portugal angekommen seid. Zu den Feiertagen alles Gute und ein gesundes Neue-Jahr 2018.

Mr. Wilfriend wrote us!

Heritage

On a sunny yet cool Sunday afternoon at my grandparents’, I decided to take my sister for a little stroll around our homeland. What’s the point in venturing around the world when there are so many hidden gems to discover right under your nose?

We began with a visit to the main church of an unassuming town not far way, named Válega. It would be an ordinary church, just like hundreds scattered around the country if it wasn’t for its gorgeous facade! Covered in bright colourful tiles, it depicts various religious scenes and floral motifs.

The sightseeing did not end here though.

Gate

Soon we reached Avanca, my father’s hometown. No, we were not going to pick up oranges from my dad’s house backyard. Instead we drove to find ourselves in someone else’s house. The one who once belonged to Egas Moniz.

  • Egas Moniz, born as António Caetano de Abreu Freire de Resende, was a doctor, professor, politician, writer and best regarded as a neurologist – he developed the technique of cerebral angiography and his continuous interest in the brain lead him to develop the surgical procedure known as leucotomy (lobotomy in current days)
  • His uncle and father-in-law, Caetano Sá Freire, insisted on him adopting the surname Egas Moniz because he was convinced that the family Resende had a direct lineage to Egas Moniz, the tutor of Afonso Henriques (who became the first King of the Kingdom of Portugal)
  • Egas Moniz was born on 29th of November 1874 in the town of Avanca
  • The manor house has 154 chairs! A lot of cleaning needs to be done 😉

 

Nobel
One of the only two Nobel prizes located in Portugal is here, in Avanca. And yes, it is as real as it can get.
Ria
Sunset at the lagoon (aka Ria), always a sight to behold.