SPEAK went to Porto in September, 2015. It was a huge step for us, but we did it and now PoScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 16.46.26rto is the fifth SPEAK city in Portugal after Leiria, Coimbra, Lisbon and Cascais. Why Porto? Because there are more than 23 thousand migrants in Porto from 143 different countries around the world, and this makes the population of Porto city more diverse. Some migrants are struggling to feel integrated in the city, so SPEAK is here to help them.

Check here for more information on how to share your world with SPEAK Porto.

In the last 2 trimesters SPEAK has grown in Porto. We started with just 9 teachers, 3 languages and 33 students. We are proud to announce that this trimester we have already reached almost 70 student applications, and 12 teachers are teaching 4 different languages – Portuguese, English, Chinese and Spanish and we thank them a lot. We are happy to see that our work has paid off and that we are doing great in Porto as well. We also need to thank our great SPEAK ambassadorsNelson Lopez, Lara Delgado and Kai Zhang – for helping us in this process. Ambassadors help us to organize super cool SPEAK cultural events and spread the word about SPEAK. For more information about SPEAK Ambassador’s program click here.

We also need to thank our amazing partners – Centro São Cirilo and Junta de Freguesia do Bonfim – for helping us to reach our target population and allowing us to use their facilities as classrooms for SPEAK classes.

Centro São Cirilo was established in January 4, 2010. The centre hosts and enables foreign and domestic individuals to spend some time there, while they try to overcome a period of social fragility – people who were evicted from their homes, homeless Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 16.46.38people who want to get off the streets and find a job, migrants and refugees who have traveled to Portugal to look for better life conditions with no support behind them, people with no family support. Since the opening 6 years ago, Centro São Cirilo has hosted over 4600 foreign and national people from 95 nationalities.

At the moment we are teaching 4 languages at Centro São Cirilo.

What Nelson, our English teacher says about the Centre:

“Personally, I love teaching at Centro Comunitário São Cirilo. Why? Because they get us. They understand what we’re trying to achieve with SPEAK and there’s a mutual admiration between both projects. From the start, the centre’s headmaster and staff welcomed and encouraged us to feel right at home, caring for our comfort with a sense of proximity and trust. From our side, the utmost respect for the Centre’s spaces, routines, and population, for whom the place is, in fact, a home.

Being a Centre mostly inhabited by displaced migrants, it manages to have a “family home” feel to it. With a bonus, an incredibly diverse and international home.

The cozy yet modern infrastructures are a great match for the staff’s availability and support. And even the more knowledgeable tenants will step up and offer to help if they sense any kind of hesitation from you.

Classes are conducted in a well-lit room with loose chairs and tables – so you can change the layout in a minute – wide floor-to-ceiling windows, and a drawing board that begs for notes and Pictionary. So all the pieces are there for a successful SPEAK experience. And bringing it all together, there’s you. The people, the sounds, the experiences, and the sharing.

Junta de Freguesia do Bonfim is probably the most central parish council in Porto. It has about 35 thousand inhabitants and is the most recent parish in Porto. At Junta do Bonfim citizens can find administration and social services, use the day centre and home support service for elderly people and get help to find a job in case of unemployment. Junta also organizes street markets for their citizens and created public showers and laundry rooms for homeless people.Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 16.46.48

This trimester we have 2 Portuguese classes in Junta de Freguesia do Bonfim. Our volunteer teachers in Bonfim share their emotions about the centre:

“The Bonfim Community Centre is one of the most important social institutions in the town. It has been providing support to the community for many years, and now, thanks to SPEAK, it reaches the international community in a whole new level.

In this highly appreciated partnership between us, we have been teaching at the Centre since September 2015, based on an ongoing relationship of trust and service to a cause.

The facilities are cozy and ideal for class settings, with plenty of chairs and big tables and boards. Also, the staff is always there for you. And since our classes happen at the end of the day, no one minds when things get a little crazy in class, with our games, singing and hot debates. It has been a joy to teach at the Bonfim Community Centre, to whom we thank for giving us such great place for us to  S H A R E   O U R   W O R L D !

As many of you might know, events are one of the most important parts of SPEAK project, which are organized by SPEAK volunteer teachers, ambassadors, team members and students.  

Why are Porto events different from events in other cities? Because SPEAK just went to Porto in the last semester and has already a significant community there. There have been already 8 supercool events organized in SPEAK Porto community, not only because the different cultures, but also for the joy to be together, meet new people, share experiences and have fun.

Everyone is welcomed to join us for SPEAK events and share the world. Check here to see upcoming events in Porto and in other SPEAK cities!

Author: Diana Uzulina

Diana is SPEAK intern from Latvia. She is passionate about the project and loves movies, books and water sports.

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