Imagine a place where not everyone speaks English. A place where the internet is hard to find; when you do find it, is extremely slow and people rarely use e-mails or even text over mobiles. When you arrange a meeting at 15:00, you can count on everyone arriving at 15:30. A place where, when you want to talk to someone, you pay them an impromptu visit at the local grocer.
Now imagine another place; an island 2.5 hours flight from the nearest shore. Created by lava from volcanic eruptions and surrounded by ocean, sharks and whales. A place where the water is so attractive you can’t resist jumping in, even when it’s raining. A place where your boss tells you to relax and enjoy yourself - stress is an unknown word.
Now try to combine these two places… Welcome to Terceira! A place very beautiful to live in and challenging if you need to work as well! The moment you step foot on Lajes Airport, you need the leave behind preconceptions and begin learning a new way of working and living. RCE (Regional Centre of Expertise) Azores was an initiative started by the Biodiversity Group in the University of Azores in Terceira. It is an international network, part of the United Nations RCE which aims at promoting education for sustainable development, by supporting various organisations and individuals from the 9 islands of the Azorean archipelagos.
My work in the RCE Azores was much more than a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 office-based job. The Change Agents UK Leoanrdo Mobility funded placement provided the opportunitiy for every day - every hour - was an opportunity to work and enjoy myself at the same time. I started my placement by creating a Facebook page for the RCE Azores, as this would be the easiest way of communication among the partners of the RCE in all islands. The next stage was to contact the partners and find out their activities, their plans and their availability in general to become actively involved in the RCE. As soon as I understood that people do not really use e-mails, I decided that it would be worth walking around town and visiting people to discuss with them. We arranged some meetings and brainstormed about what could be done to overcome the challenges presented when trying to work among 9 islands. I also participated in activities organised by partners which aimed at promoting sustainable development: cleaning up beaches, teaching young children about sea-life.
The Placement Results
· Introduced social media platforms to the RCE-Azores communications strategy to facilitate communications between partners, students and stakeholders.
· Organised a series of meetings for partners in Terceira, to plan delivery of a two-day event and arrange a new Steering Committee.
· Developed a partnership with the local University Student Association, to increase student engagem3ent in the RCE activities.
Blog by Vivi Marinou
“Vivi helped develop enhanced awareness of and communications for RCE Açores which will continue to support education for sustainable development in the Azores”Dr. Neilson, Director, RCE-Azores