Gaiac preparations for Festa da Broa de Avintes

On a sunny Sunday of September, Gaiac gathered some of their members along with the volunteers to prepare the materials for Festa da Broa. From what I understood, this is an important event of the Portuguese gastronomy, which celebrates one of the national bread types called “broa”, quite wide-spread in the north of Portugal.  This event took place in one of the districts of V.N.G. named Avintes, where, they say, is the best place for broa. You have to try by yourself!!

With several initiatives at the gastronomic, musical, cultural, recreational and sports level, Gaiac was also present with all kind of activities that attracted the curiosity of the youth looking for some fun. But the preparations started with some hours before the festival, in da house, where we had some leisure activities like preparing origami flowers &butterflies, creating stencils, decorating our T-shirts with Gaiac’s logo or juggling around for the first time. These types of events, where we are all together make us feel that we belong to the same organization and as long as we are having fun the outputs no longer matters.



Festa da Broa

Recently we had to present Gaiac association in a festival called Festa da Broa. Named after a traditional type of Portuguese bread, the event is filled with activities related to gastronomy, music, culture, recreation and sports.

Besides trying the surprisingly heavy loaf of broa with peaces of chorizo sausage and tasting possibly the best hommade icecream of my life, we entertained ourselves at the festival with learning how to juggle and filling a wall of different stencil designs, one of the members from Gaiac did impressive magic tricks for the public, and I had a chance to show the human rights boardgame to a member of Gabinete da Juventude, a youth organisation that might develop this game further in the future. We ended our day by a diner table together with members from Gaiac and Gabinete da Juventude.




We made a game


Alongside going to the school to spend time with the kids in their summer leisure activities, me and my lovely Romanian house mate had to team up and create a board game. We settled to create something about human rights, cause it’s a subject we both wanted to learn more about. The beginning was the hardest and longest with all the brainstorming and missing peaces of information..
During the process we decided that I will focus more on the concept and design part and she will deal more with everything else that we needed.

My inspiration was a video I saw on YouTube :

I created The Story of Human Rights following the order of human rights history – from Cyrus the Great to Nelson Mandela. The game is suppose to be played in teams. In every turn a team member picks up a card with an example of a human rights issue and a task, that if the team fails or refuses to do, they don’t get to roll the dices to move forward. There are also special fields that makes the team to skip their next turn or move forwards/backwards along the path.


It was not an easy task to think of all these different examples for human rights issues, cause it’s quite a complicated and not the most cheerful topic to talk about, but we did our best.. For the design I did a massive browsing online to choose suitable pictures that will look good, then printing, cutting, drawing.. and plasticizing ! I enjoyed the practical part of creating this game a lot, maybe some day I will improve it [or create a new one] and transfer it into a digital format, when I will learn the tools to do so.

Minha Lusitania

I am Fernando, I’ve been in Villa Nova de Gaia for five months as an EVS volunteer. I am halfway through this experience, and I can say that it is proving very important to me, as I hoped.
One of the main reasons why,a few months ago I applied for this project was the need to live and work for a period abroad, and I can say that Portugal is a perfect country in which to live an experience like this: here you can breathe a little-known tranquility to us Italians, stress is practically non-existent, and it is a nation full of color (also literally, thanks to the colorful facades and fanciful asulejos), art and music, with numerous cultural events of all kinds (I am particularly struck by the abundance of music festivals and performing arts, which allow anyone to live artistic experiences of the highest level without having to pay any ticket, such as the Imaginarios festival, which for three days has populated the historical center of Santa Maria da Feira with street performances); in particular Porto, with which Gaia forms almost a single urban center, is an extremely lively city, full of concerts, shows, workshops, associations, street artists, and so on, as well as being architecturally and landscape-like a jewel.
Another reason why I embarked on this adventure is my interest in the use of arts in education, and the project in which I took part is about non-formal education. In these months I worked in two schools, almost a middle school and a high school, where I could use my theatrical skills in activities aimed at young people and teenagers, which provided an opportunity to experiment with new techniques and exercises, see the results, curiosity and fun in the young participants, and test and improve my teaching skills. Now I work with children, who are engaged in recreational activities for the summer, and it is a demanding job and a responsibility, but that, if done with the heart, can give great satisfaction.
There is another element that makes the EVS beautiful and important: it is training (usually two, one at the beginning and one in the middle of the volunteer service) organized by the National Agency for volunteers of all the country. For a few days we live together with other young people from all Europe, an intense experience of non-formal education (this time on the side of the user), where we learn a lot, reflects on our project and on the EVS in its various aspects, and we know many new people, with whom you can get into confidence very quickly thanks to group activity and the friendly context.
For these and other reasons I can say that this kind of experience can give so much and creates the conditions to grow from a human and work point of view, get to know each other better, and also have fun, and I advise everyone to try it, maybe just in Portugal.

6 things that I’ve learned working with kids

Tomorrow is our last day with the kids and I’m having mixed feelings about this. I don’t really know if I will miss them but saying goodbye is a hard part. Thinking backwards, it was so cool having them around and form close relationships so quickly; definitely made my stay here more enjoyable even though I had days when it was so hard to get out of the bed and make all the way to the school that the idea of facing those mini humans fully charged with energy in the early hours of the morning seemed so scary. By the time I learned to couple with their enthusiasm even after just 4 hours of sleep. Now, that is almost over, all I can say is that I care about each one of them cuz they really teach me important life lessons.

  1. Don’t forget to bring your smile..each day
  2. Not every time in life you get what you want
  3. Who said that the rules can’t be broken?
  4. Not everything has to make sense
  5. Saying “I m sorry” can do magic
  6. Change your mind every 5 min it’s a thing





The Mummy SPA

It’s the end of August and our project is starting to come to an end. For the past two months we have been traveling to a local elementary school, where kids are spending their summer holidays doing different kind of leisure activities. Although, masksdealing with adorable, innocent, noisy and in some cases extremely shameless kiddos is a big test on patience, it has been an interesting experience in total. The biggest struggle for me of course has been the language barrier. The best way to practice a new language is in an environment like this and I discovered that the most comfortable I felt with the youngest of the kids, because they would just talk and talk and they don’t seem to care much that I don’t understand most of what they are saying or that my answers are actually not making much sense [ – that is if I manage to answer at all] .. : mummy spa]

Besides a waterbaloon fight and being a judge on ”The Voice”, a challenging, but exciting activity we took part in was creating clay masks directly on their faces. They had to manage to be quiet and patient, waiting for the mask to get done and spend extra time for it to get dry. I think most of them enjoyed the whole process with the light face massage until the mask was done and had to be removed from the skin, sometimes taking a few hairs out with it. Some tiers and cries had to be let out of the system..






Shadow play

Here, the final bell is about to ring.  In about 2 weeks, the school will close its gates, leaving the summer plans in the children’s charge. But before happening that, we thought to bring some joy and amusement moments on children’s faces before the exam season starts.

The idea of creating a shadow theatre has been inspired by the work of the previous volunteers who left us great handouts. Neither I nor my colleague did this kind of performance so our engine was feed by the desire to create something different from the traditional way of storytelling and to spread some inspiration among kids. Although the performance was short, the preparations behind of it lead to some tension situations and misunderstandings that were afterwards peacefully discussed with mentors and we managed to keep them under control. The text that we were about to propose has been inspired by a story called “Cavalinho Branco”; but from the original tale we kept only the message and the thread of events but the text and some characters were completely changed.IMG_20180517_123539_421

We opted for a color shadow theatre because it s well known that the children’s attention is drawn by colors and for us was also entertaining to play with shades. The story itself has lots of meanings scattered around the plot but the message that we wanted to disseminate through the main character was the idea of pursuing your dream no matter the obstacles.

The output was the expected one; the kids enjoyed the animation as much as skipping the math class 😛  .In the end, we were the spectators so the kids formed groups of 4 and had to improvise their own shadow puppetry using the figures.

From what I have heard and seen, believe me, great puppeteers are about to show up! Stay tuned!



The Journey

Once again, your summer breeze and bohemian scent brought me here; this time in Porto.  I missed so much this semi-chaos, with your glossy mosaic and cubic stone, narrow and extremely steep streets, crowded, agitated, cars and people walking along the street, the fresh smell of the laundry hanged on the windows. This city is a labyrinth of streets, stairs with very small hidden markets. . Just a little bit and I’m getting into the vibe.

And Even If I have had some last minute changes in the airport, somehow I managed to arrive earlier than expected. Here, the tribe is waiting for new adventures, with wide open arms under the sunlight. So far, the nest is peaceful and warmly, with late awakenings, morning rituals and lazy breakfasts. Today we are all right.  Tomorrow we are not the same. We change from day to day, from one hour to the next, as the wind blows, depends on what we hear, how we wake up that morning, or how we fell asleep the evening before, depends on who we meet and where, there are many things that make us have another thought. From now on, we must make room for the unexpected.




That 1 issue I have here

It’s been almost two months since we got all four of us, the lovely foreign volunteers, together in our GAIAC penthouse. Unlucky for me, I got here already a little bit ill and inhabiting a new home, where  keeping the heat inside the house is quite a challenge, I was having a very unhappy time health wise. I will always be amazed by these houses with  windows without a proper isolation from the cold winds and heavy rains. Not even going to question also the lack of the central heating.. The way the Portuguese people survive their humid winters is constantly wearing dozens of layers of clothing both inside and outside, and making decisions about whether to turn the heating on or having a reasonable electricity bill [I’ve been told that Portugal has the second highest electricity prices in Europe]. Sometimes people who are geographically located at least above Portugal are having a hard time to believe me, the spoiled princess, who is passing palm trees on her way and whining about having hard times in a +10 °C degree winter with no snow.. : D

Maybe it wasn’t the best approach to start my first post with complaining about Portugal, I love this country so much, but this issue has just been on my mind constantly, I just can’t seem to get over it – why would you torture yourself like that, my dear, Portugal ? In nowadays, it’s not like the technology is not there, it’s not like the materials are not there [if we can waste resources to import many useless products from Asia, why not to bring windows from Central Europe that are practical not only in the summer time?].

One Portuguese person expressed their opinion, that finally gave me some logical explanation behind this phenomenon – Portuguese people are kind of in denial that it’s cold in the winter. Omg, yes, that is it ! Apparently, it used to be a lot warmer all year long, but due to the global warming the climate has changed in the last years, and in a way many people are having a subconscious resistance towards admitting this change and improving their homes for winter time.

With this blog post I can now finally conclude this topic for myself [at least for some while] and just be thankful that ”Abriláguas mil” passed. My health is alright and I am about to enjoy a warm May evening in Porto with music, a glass of wine and a good company.

Até logo !

: ]

preparing europe

and so it is, my dear friend, that after a month at the edge of the continent, in the land of  schizophrenic skies and endless black and white cobbles, in the city-catalogue ‘buy your bridge today’ and under our wuthering heighted roof, i write to you.

the times find us in the midst of preparations. the annual celebration has arrived and we, as a forgetfull spouse on the eve of an anniversary, rush to remember all the reasons why we continue in this union. but you know better than me the problem with anniversaries; full of big words. so, i thought we might try something different for a change. this time, take a step back, and look at the little things that possibly link us together. a glimpse at the minuscules for some, for others the fundamentals.

i’d say the natural elements come first. the water, its masses, and the strikingly similar effect it has had since ever and everywhere on the humankind. we gather around it, busy little beings going about our busy little chores, we cherish it, we build our greatest constructions by its side, begging it to mirror in its eternal blue our accomplishments.

then comes music. and the instruments that seam to have been stolen from your village, but in truth they were made somewhere far away. and the lyrics that turn from incomprehensive murmur to a song in a way that would make all the good-natured filologists of the world abandon their futile work.

and afterwards are the habbits and the tastes and the gestures. the tiny smirk when someone tells you that this or that is typical from here. we know better, my friend, now don’t we? and of course nothing is exactly the same, every thing a little bit different in its way, each person is a culture (at least a friend of mine believes so. i believe him too).

and lastly, there come the almost imperceptible. a face of a friend appearing in the middle of an unknown crowd, only to become a stranger after a moment. a street you swear you have walked before. a colour so familiar, it must have been from that shirt you wore constantly for two summers in a row. oh, have you seen our colours?


On the 9th of May it is Europe’s Day. We’ll be around ; )