There are many reasons why people decide to leave their country; however, we all search for a better future.
I am one of the 12,000 foreigners living in Aveiro and one of the 250 million migrants in the world today. When I first arrived in Portugal I had no idea what I was going to do, I didn’t know enough Portuguese and I didn’t have many friends. It wasn’t easy to leave my home along with everything I knew and I was certainly afraid of not fitting into my new home country. It was around that time, a little over two years ago, that I ran into SPEAK. I felt instantly attracted to the project’s mission and identified with its values of respect, openness, and multiculturalism.
I signed up for the Portuguese course, where, besides learning the language, I met people in the same situation as mine; recently arrived in the country, with many doubts and fears. Little by little, we created a network of support and affection. In the same time, I began giving Spanish courses as a Buddy, and my then “students” became my friends. We organized events where people could try famous Mexican dishes, such as quesadillas, molletes, chilaquiles, micheladas and água de Jamaica; or be part of a Mexican tradition; we organized an Altar de Muertos and a piñata.
Many times I get homesick but sharing a bit about Mexico somehow makes me feel closer to my dear country.
In a world where exclusivity is king, what I like most about SPEAK is its inclusiveness. SPEAK does not discriminate against race, sex, age, ideologies, religion or sexual preferences. SPEAK is not only for migrants! SPEAK is for anyone who wants to learn a new language or is curious about another culture; a student in a new city trying to make new friends, a young migrating couple, or a retired senior who feels he/she still wants to learn new things.
I am proud to be part of this program that has changed many lives, including mine. I want more people to have this experience. This is why I have decided to start SPEAK in my new lovely city, Aveiro. The adventure SPEAK Aveiro has started! Aveirenses, come join us and help create a stronger, more tolerant and united community!
If you also want to help grow inclusive communities and start SPEAK in your city, check the program Take SPEAK to your city!