Between 28th March and 1st April, the 3rd mobility of the Erasmus + Living in a Rural Area project took place, this time, in our school.
On 27th March we headed to Porto airport to welcome the 24 students and six teachers, Spanish, French and Slovakian. In the afternoon of that same day, already in Cinfães, 21 families kindly welcomed the foreign students. A little shy and reserved at this first meeting, as if they did not know or dream what was to come.
The welcoming to the foreign entourage in the auditorium was a wonderful moment: piano music exquisitely played by our students (Maria Abrantes and Tiago Andrade) and our student Gustavo Pereira embodied the character of our school Patron General Serpa Pinto so well. At the Town Hall, the group was received by the Mayor and the Councillor for Culture and our school Principal. At the end of the small ceremony, the students already carried in their backpacks, kindly offered by the municipality, the name of Cinfães. And it was through Cinfães that we walked, that morning, in a small tour around the centre.
This project aims, above all, to showcase local products and the beauty of our landscape, from the mountains to the river. And that was what we did on our first visit to the Douro vineyard, classified by UNESCO, in 2001, as World Heritage. Through the winding roads that follow the course of the river and the terraces that rise up on the banks, in a unique landscape, our eyes were drawn to that living picture, to that magnificent view.
After experiencing the beauty of Douro vineyards, it was time to visit the wonderful city of Douro and Porto Cálem Cellars, one of the most the famous cellars where Port Wine, the sublime and bacon-like drink, is stored and aged,. We went there on a sunny and beautiful day. After an explanation about the process of production and ageing of the wine, we took our partners on a small cruise along the Douro, “The six bridges cruise”, on the typical rabelo boats. Glances oscillated between the bridges and the houses on the other bank and you could hear: this is beautiful! Later that day, on a walk through Foz, the children enjoyed playing on the beach.
On one of the last days of a very active week, after a walk along the Bestança Valley, breathing the fresh air and contemplating the lush landscape, we went up to the highest village in Portugal, Gralheira, known as the “Princess of the Mountain”, in the Montemuro mountains. To visit the Casa das Serranitas is to return to the past, to another way of life, to know the traditions and customs represented in the handicrafts made of burel and also in the most famous garment, the burel capuchin.
The activities at the school for all the students that integrate this project were several. On the first day, they had the opportunity to paint tiles, always having in mind the rural world. Already ready, these tiles were divided between the initial letters of the project – LIRA – and will be placed in a wall inside our school, giving life and representativeness to the Erasmus + world. They got to know well all the school building, through guided visits by our students who very well received their European partners.
At the end of the week, on Friday, the group tried very funny traditional games in an unforgettable morning. In the afternoon, they applauded the small group of the Rancho Folclórico de São Cristóvão de Nogueira, who invited them to dance to the sound of the accordion, in what was a very lively and funny moment. It was a memorable week that will surely be remembered in many conversations. It ended with a snack attended by the families who accommodated the students, already familiar with their guests whom they already missed, expressed in heartfelt hugs and frank smiles.
On the day of departure, the initial shyness gave way to hugs and tears, to friendships begun, new loves and, who knows, future reunions.
This is what remains of this fantastic project: the promotion of cultural diversity, the development of social and intercultural skills and enriching experiences. In addition, the dissemination of our products, traditions and customs and the contemplation of our magnificent landscape. Our Erasmus programme is based on the premise of sharing knowledge and expertise which makes us all proud and richer. The world is only fun in its diversity.
On the departure day, the phrases we heard most often were: “This was the best experience of my life!”
And it really was!