ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: training course
Venue: Aldeia de São Sebastião, Portugal
Dates: 14—23 November 2023
National team: 4 participants + 1 group leader
Please read the info-pack.
Hosting organisation: The Associação Desportiva, Cultural e Social da Aldeia de São Sebastião
I have had the great opportunity to participate in an Erasmus Youth Exchange in a remote city called Aldeia, Portugal. Considering the topic of the project: Rural Development, we couldn’t possibly be staying in a more thematical place. With its population of about 80 inhabitants, we were almost outnumbering the locals. Aldeia is located near the Spanish border, so we had the chance to enter Spain as well. On the first day, we participated in getting to know each other activities, learned each other’s names and explored the place where we were staying, and we ended the day with a Portuguese intercultural night organized by the project’s facilitators. Throughout the whole project, we were learning about the opportunities remotely located areas have to attract young people and investors, as there is the known problem of urbanization that causes remote areas’ populations to drop. We had the chance to develop potential business ideas in groups that would connect financial profit for small villages, preserving traditions and culture. One of the highlights was a fall celebration festival with the locals, we had the chance to experience their way of life and enjoyed BBQ with baked chestnuts.
I really appreciated the facilitators’ effort they were putting into the intercultural evenings, they provided us with a huge room where we could organize it, and gave us enough space in the program to present our country, its history, traditions, traditional dances, and of course typical food items and drinks.
The project’s program was very well balanced, we had a bit of theater playing, sports, trips to the surrounding cities, discussions, meditations, and free time to be creative and facilitate our own activities, such as getting tattoos! To my favorites, I would count am improvised theater about the situation in remote areas of our countries, bike tours in our free time, creating a business concept of guided tours in the remote area, face painting, and Romanian intercultural night. We were so lucky with the weather, we enjoyed the last summer days before fall entered.
I am so thankful to my sending organization, to the hosting organization, the facilitators and other participants for creating this unforgettable experience. I met people that were so inspiring and helped me in so many ways, I truly believe I have made friendships for life.
I have been to more than 15 projects but this is easily in top five for me. The organization of the project was very well done, they knew what to do at any moment. They took very good care of us in all aspects of the project and also during the nights when they stayed up with us having fun long into the nights. If something was missing or we had any complaints they listened and did their best to improve/help us. The food provided in the venue was excellent, we were always full and happy. The only downside was breakfast which was very basic and always the same but lunch and dinner always made up for that more than enough.
I never felt like I’m bored or have nothing to do, we either had some activities to do or we could explore nice surroundings. We were also lucky enough to be there during the celebration of end of the fall where we had a chance to meet nice local people and together share BBQ and home made vines. It was truly unique experience. They took us to few trips to explore surrounding villages and castle which gave us great taste of rural Portugal and made us fall in love with it.