SPEAK: Language and Culture Exchange

SPEAK: Language and Culture Exchange


It is extremely important to understand that SPEAK changes lives. When I said that it changed my life, you can’t imagine how much, both at an internal and external level, everything, everything, everything. Hello, my name is Alina. I’m from Ukraine, and I’m a Buddy at SPEAK. I moved from France, where I was studying, to Portugal. I met a boy, we were together for a long time, but things didn’t go as we expected and when we broke up. I was a bit isolated, socially speaking. When we arrived here, especially in Leiria, I didn’t speak any Portuguese, I didn’t have family, or friends, and particularly for me, there are no Arabs here. When I arrived in April, I couldn’t speak Portuguese. I was walking on the streets but I couldn’t speak to anyone. That was a bit difficult. Then I met SPEAK. SPEAK, or the prototype of SPEAK, was an advertisement in a local newspaper, a language exchange, and I applied. The idea was to learn a language and, just in case, I also applied to teach Russian. I never thought of anyone wanting to learn Russian! I’m a volunteer teacher of Russian, and sometimes of English too. My name is Sartha, this is my mother Fatema Ammar, from Libya, and this is my father David Sani, from Guinea Bissau. I started teaching Arabic with my husband. I have so many friends now, I feel like I have a family, I have friends and I don’t feel so lonely. Besides that, now I can speak Portuguese, I don’t have problems in communicating. My name is Naki, I’m from Togo, I’m a volunteer teacher at SPEAK and I’m also a SPEAK student because I’m learning Portuguese. It is like travelling, without leaving Portugal. I share my culture and I learn other people’s culture. That helps me understand how people live, and how they think too. We have cliches In the north of China people are taller and, that, I didn’t know. For me all the Chinese people looked the same. Not all the migrants from Eastern Europe are blonde with blue eyes. The language is a small step towards integration, an important step but we need much more. This is what makes SPEAK different from other projects, it is this integration and the creation of meeting opportunities, to know the other, to know something different, to get out of our shell, to leave our comfort zone and find out that the other zone is also comfortable. You only need to open your mind a little bit.

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