It is just us or is it looking like we are living in a parallel dimension? 

I find myself checking the news every hour. As time passes I feel more anxious about what’s going to happen in my country (Portugal). Are we getting to China or Italy numbers? Does our National Health System have the capacity to deal with all of this? These are some of the questions that pass through my mind every day.

The truth is that in the middle of all this craziness, good things are happening as well. I’ve been calling my family and my friends more times the last couple of weeks than ever before. Air pollution has dropped as countries shut down. Venice’s canals are clear for the first time in decades and fish and dolphins were seen swimming in it! 

All over the world, we are watching organizations adapting to this situation and finding new solutions to help overcome the challenges that this public health threat is creating. As you know, since the very beginning, SPEAK aims to connect people and fight social exclusion. Our model is very simple. If people are together with the same goal in mind – learning a new language and sharing their culture – they will inevitably build strong connections with each other and feel that they truly belong to a community. 

With that, we are creating the means to make sure that everyone, particularly the ones who are more vulnerable, can have a stronger support network, friends and sometimes even a new family in the city where they live. 

We couldn’t be indifferent to this situation. Just sit there and wait for the storm to pass was no option. We felt the strong need to create a solution to help everyone deal with these uncertain times and the anxiety of what’s going to happen in the future. To keep connecting people in these difficult times. Assisting the best we could. And that’s exactly what we did. We adapted at a fast pace and with the support of our community, we can now keep sharing our mission. Creating impact all over the world. 

SPEAK will, for the time being, run online language groups.

SPEAK is providing free online language groups, open to everyone that wants to learn a new language, share their culture and keep building human connections with people from all over the world. 

In this temporary online model, we will have intensive language groups, with a total of 10 sessions that will happen Monday to Friday, with a duration of 90 minutes per day.

Anyone, wherever they are, can be part of this community of people who refuse to settle down, and register to the online sessions. The language groups will be free, but those who want to contribute to the project can pay what they want. 

With all of the not so good parts of this isolation and quarantine period that we are living, there’s something good that we can take out of this. I mentioned some of them before, but we would like to talk about one more – TIME. 

Time to think about how much we took for granted and the way we lived our daily lives. Time to finally pay attention. Attention to our loved ones, friends, but also attention to the most vulnerable groups of our society and their challenges. 

Time to think that some of the people that are living in our cities may not be able to leave their houses. They may not be able to speak the native language. Furthermore, they don’t know anyone who can bring them food, medicine or just chat online. Time to think that everyone of us has a role to play and we should play our part every day, with or without a virus threatening our freedom and health. 

From inside our homes, let’s keep sharing our worlds, our language and culture. With all the extra time that we now have, let’s make sure that even though the borders are closing all over the place, our minds are free and open.

Stay safe. Stay connected.

Did you know our first blog post was titled "A Flor de Cerejeira Sakura no Japão"? It was about the Sakura Cherry Blossom in Japan.

Author: Teresa Couto

Teresa is a Junior Full Stack Marketeer at SPEAK. She loves playing volleyball and visit old libraries (the oldest, the better!). She may have a coffee addiction problem and she likes to record random sounds in the street.

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