In our #FounderFriday blogs, we introduce you to our founders. What is a SPEAK founder? A founder is someone who took SPEAK to their city. With the goal to make this city a place where everyone feels at home and where diversity is championed. Today we give you the chance to meet Sébastien, who is the new founder of SPEAK Braga, Portugal. He wants to have a big impact in Braga.

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Sébastien Leroux, 36 years old. I’m born in France, and I have been in Portugal since I was 10 years old. Being “connected to computers” from an early age, I studied Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Minho in Braga, having worked in Braga for a few years. Currently working at Porto Editora, in Porto. I’ve always loved learning new languages. I speak Portuguese, French, English, and Italian, and I would love to start learning an oriental language.

#FounderFriday Sébastien
Why did you become a SPEAK founder?

I started at SPEAK Braga as an ambassador during the pandemic. While I was an ambassador, I also led some language groups (Portuguese and French). At the beginning of 2022, the previous Braga founder left the project and I decided to continue the project. I choose to become a founder because, for me, it was a nice experience when I was a buddy and I met a lot of people while I was an ambassador. I wanted to expand all these experiences.

Tell us about the first time you ran a language group in your city – how was it?

I started with 2 groups at the same time: French Basic 1 and Portuguese Basic 1. The first sessions were “difficult”, but after a couple of sessions, I gained confidence and it started to go well.

What is the most rewarding part about being a SPEAK founder?

I’m building a small team to help me with the project. I’m managing the language groups and getting feedback. I’ve also participated in some events and talked with a lot of people. That’s probably the part I like the most because I learn a lot about cultures and people.

Language exchange, learning about other people and cultures: big impact
What was the biggest challenge you faced, and how did you overcome it?

Currently, the biggest challenge is to get the project back on track after the pandemic. COVID-19 had a serious impact on the project since everything went online. The steps to achieve this goal are: more language groups, creating a small support team, and organizing some events like typical language exchanges and events related to Braga.

What impact has SPEAK had on your community?

I don’t have yet the perception of the impact on the community because I started as a founder a few months ago. I started the process at the end of January/beginning of February 2022. But, of course, I hope to have some impact in Braga in the future. For example, being one of the first contacts for people coming to Braga like refugees. As a buddy, I know I helped a lot of people with learning a new language.

For me, social inclusion means equal opportunities for all, regardless of origin, language, money, or education.

Sébastien – Founder of SPEAK Braga
Sébastien as a buddy, leading his Portuguese language group and making an impact
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?

The first session as a buddy and the first event I participated in as “Braga almost-founder”, an event called “Ucrânia no coração”, to support Braga’s Ukrainian community.

How has being a SPEAK founder impacted your life?

With SPEAK, as a buddy and as a founder, I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve learned a lot. Currently, because of the “single person team”, it’s tough to manage my full-time job and balance that with SPEAK. But with the help of 1 or 2 more people, I’ll be able to do a lot more.

What kinds of relationships/connections have you built with your community?

As a buddy, I still talk with some of the people I met during the language groups. As a founder, I’ve met people from other organizations, and I’m currently starting to spread the SPEAK message everywhere.

Do you want to help Sébastien with spreading the word of SPEAK and support him and the (refugee) community in Braga? Feel free to send us an email and we’ll put you in contact with Sébastien!

Do you want to read the stories of other founders? Meet the SPEAK founder connecting migrants & refugees in Castelo Branco!

Author: Aster Taken

Aster is a part time content marketer at SPEAK. She finished her masters degree in Communication Science at the Radboud University Nijmegen and moved to Lisbon in January. She loves food, hanging out with friends and exploring her new temporary place of residence.

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