Leiria is a special city, because it is where SPEAK took its first steps! SPEAK was born in Leiria in September 2012. It started as a Language Exchange program, but today, four years later and having gone to six other cities and looking forward to the launch of SPEAK in Italy, it is a global community, where diversity, equality and the democratisation of the language learning are promoted.
SPEAK is not only about learning new languages and cultures, but it is also about making friends, growing with the experience and discovering the world. Sofia Xavier, our Ambassador and Volunteer Teacher, explains what she felt when she arrived in Leiria and what took her to SPEAK: “At first I felt a little lonely. I came to Leiria to study and didn’t know the city nor the people here. SPEAK couldn’t have appeared at a more appropriate moment of my life. I know what it feels like to be far from home, although in my case the physical and cultural gap were not as big as most of those who come to Portugal and find SPEAK. I knew what it was like falling like a parachute in a place where you know no one, and I could imagine their additional difficulties due to the language barrier. Being able to contribute with a little of my spare time to make someone’s life easier and happier, seemed to me a strong enough argument. I signed up, and since that time, I began to feel that Leiria was no longer a strange place for me, because here I had found very special people. During this time, I grew a lot as a person, I shared my knowledge and in return, received worlds. Different and beautiful worlds that I’ll keep in my heart. I’m sure it couldn’t have been a better experience.”
Sofia has left SPEAK to go to Beijing. It was great to have her, I would like to thank her for her time, good mood and friendly way of dealing with everyone. I also wish her the best of luck!
I would also like to say thank you to the City Hall for believing and supporting us from the very beginning. Their help has been essential to reach more and more people. I’d also like to thank them for allowing SPEAK to use their facilities – first Centro Cívico, in the middle of the historical city center with a great view of the Castle, ideal for the classes and for the games, songs and dances present in events; and also a cosy room full of history in Biblioteca Municipal Afonso Lopes Vieira, where SPEAK can count on very friendly and helpful staff.
At SPEAK, we keep trying to find ways of contributing and helping others and in this sense we have just started a new collaboration with Redes na Quint@-E6G, a project aimed specifically to children and young people between 6 and 30 years old with problems like school failure and absenteeism, deviant behaviour and social exclusion. This project has several partnerships to achieve its goals with either direct or indirect participants.
Patrícia Lourenço, one of the people responsible for this project, gives her opinion about this partnership: “The partnership with SPEAK fits the goals with indirect participants with the aim of leveraging skills concerning written and speaking Portuguese language of this population. At the moment we are developing the second edition of this activity with a group of women, mainly of Moroccan nationality.
Each class has been a world of discovery, contributing to the substantial increase in motivation of the team which drives this activity, and mainly in the growing commitment and enthusiasm of all the participants. Thank you SPEAK!”
If you want to be part of this special team, visit the site here and join! SHARE YOUR WORLD!