The experience at the arrival training in Porto with the other volunteers that living in Portugal was wonderful. We had the opportunity to meet new people, new stories, we confronted each other and made new friends and someone even new possible loves. I left Lisbon together with 5 other volunteers who work with Rota Jovem.
We arrived at the seminar hotel in Porto at around 2 pm, we checked in with the covid test and settled in our rooms, each of us had a single room available. During the rest of the day we visited the city a bit with other new volunteers. In the evening, before dinner, we all met at the hotel to get to know our work group and our trainers, my group was the yellow team, with Hugo and Ana as trainers. In this short time each of us introduced himself and after that we began to complete some simple exercises around the room, where we could express our ideas on volunteering, our period of stay, our fears and expectations. It was a good opportunity to get to know the new teammates and to listen to their thoughts.
The walls of the work room began to come to life with our thoughts written on colored post-its, the chairs were arranged in a circle, the environment was transformed in a few minutes with our presence. After this hour of getting to know each other, we all went to the dining room to have dinner, another excellent time to start talking and getting to know each other. The first evening was free, we walked around the city a bit and then went to sleep.
In the following days we worked with our teams applying a non-formal education, each exercise involved sharing one's ideas and experience. There have been many team building exercises where the whole group or smaller groups had to accomplish a goal together. I found it a very useful exercise to understand the group, others and especially oneself. I understood that the opinion of each of us is of equal importance and that it is important to share it. A group that thinks, asks itself questions and finds answers is a great strength because what one does not see is seen by someone else and vice versa.
Discussing in a group, reflecting, finding new ideas I found something very intense and strong, full of ideas and new possibilities, it is something that enriches you, influences you in a positive way. I learned to express my ideas, to listen to those of others and to find compromise, also to accept and trust ideas different from mine, these are experiences that open your way of thinking, make you flexible, I think that the comparison with others is the best mental gymnastics!! In general, the days were full of activities with coffee breaks and lunch breaks in which all the teams met together to chat, to talk about their life and their experience. During lunches and dinners I had the opportunity to eat with different people, changing tables almost every day. The restaurant service was very good!
Each day ended with a moment of reflection in which each of us expressed his idea, his feelings, I loved these moments because they close the day with awareness by giving an essential final touch, something that is not always there in daily life and it is however useful to become aware of one's own thoughts and that of others.
The evenings after the daily training continued with a tour of the city all together in the center of Porto or in the lounge of the hotel on the -4 floor, there all together we found ourselves talking, playing the guitar, playing many group games, all this made us even more connected and made the experience even more intense, they were unforgettable moments! In these playful evenings, outside the training activities, I became more aware of how important and indispensable “play” is in life, it makes us feel like children and therefore free, happy, it was wonderful.
I felt and understood thanks to this and other experiences that the most important and beautiful thing in these events is being together with others. Over a period of 5 days we shared everything and learned a lot from each other. On December 6, with a little sadness but also happy to have met so many beautiful people, we said goodbye, staying in touch on the various whatsapp groups !!