Uden in Sobreda – 10th-16th December 2011
Saturday, 10th December – The expectation was huge – as usual! – and our students were nervously waiting for their partners. Finally, the Dutch group arrived: first hugs and kisses and off they went to their new homes. Sunday was the “family day” but some of the students had the chance to get together at the beach or at some other touristic sites – Belém, Sesimbra, Cascais… On Monday we went to Sintra – Portugal’s fairytale town on the edge of Europe – and we visited the “mysterious” Quinta da Regaleira, where the students had to accomplish their very first task: to grab their maps and set out to explore the property, which has several exquisite constructions, and try to find some fremason symbols. On our way back to school, we stopped at Cabo da Roca, a cliff rising about 140m above the Atlantic, famous for being Europe’s westernmost point. Here students couldn’t resist posing against the Crucifix Monument for their photo or against the amazing view to the Atlantic. The cultural activities proceeded according to plan – well, not quite. The donkey riding in Serra do Louro, Arrábida, planned for Tuesday, had to be cancelled for safety reasons (the ground was too muddy, as it had rained the previous day). Nevertheless, we had a plan B – making bread! So the students put their hands in the dough and an hour later the bread they made was ready to be eaten.
Wednesday morning we took the ferry and went to Parque das Nações and visited the interactive expositions of the Pavilion of Knowledge – Ciência Viva, which is an interactive museum dedicated to science and technology. Next stop: Downtown, more exactly Rua Augusta, a car-free street in the heart of Lisbon. It was time for our volunteer activity: fund raising for Make a Wish – “selling” Christmas stars of this foundation and painting on canvas. After a previous briefing on what they were supposed to paint, our “artists” sat behind the easels and unleashed their inner artist. Bearing in mind that the theme was solidarity, the students created wonderful art work and some of the paintings were immediately sold to the curious passers-by. We all enjoyed this activity and thanks to the students’ commitment and enthusiasm we were able to raise €344 for Make a Wish. On Thursday morning we made a short tour in Almada Velha and visited Casa da Cerca, a cultural arts center. In the afternoon, the students gathered for some sport activities: football, volleyball and a latin dance class. And that’s it – the exchange week was almost over, but we still had the highlight of the day, the Portuguese traditional dinner with all the parents and other members of each family. Once again, the parents excelled themselves and brought a variety of wonderful Portuguese dishes and, we must tell, it was the most pleasant way to complete the first part of the exchange programme. See you in February!