The latest grant to be given by the Bristol-Oporto Foundation was to João Sousa, an engineering student. He seemed to have had a very pleasant and profitable stay - he even wrote a report of what happened:
Portuguese perspective on Britain and British people
In my first trip to Britain, I found an ancient
country with a vast amount of amazing attractions to offer to its tourists. I
also found a special nation with various curious customs. First of all, I would
like to emphasize the extreme politeness, respect and courtesy of British
people. There is a slight exception to this behaviour, that will be addressed
later. While working, everyone is really professional and focused on doing
their best. For instance, in the Bristol Language Centre, the language school I
attended for two weeks, both the teachers and the staff were not only
approachable and friendly but they were also available to promptly help the
students in whatever they need. Other services, like public transports, are
extremely organized and effective. Definitely, British punctuality is not a
myth. I caught at least two buses per day and they were always on time! When
the traffic was calm, the bus stopped for a short period of time in order not
to arrive earlier at the next bus stop. In the beginning I didn't understand
why this happened and I found it awkward, but after I realized why it makes
absolutely sense! By the way, in the first days I went crazy due to the left
hand traffic, especially at roundabouts and zebra crossings, where I didn't
know in which direction I should look. Every time I took a glance at a child
inside a car on the left front seat, I was shocked "A child driving?".
But then I remembered I was in Britain, so the driver is on the right front
seat and I calmed down.
Regarding the weather in Britain, it is known
worldwide that it isn't good. Even in summer, at least from my experience, the
rain is always there. Although the frequent showers, the British people, who
were always equipped with waterproof clothes, kept doing their daily life
routine as usual, as if there wasn't any rain.
When there is a sunny day, everyone had lunch in one
of the several city parks, which is definitely a pleasant experience. In fact,
this city parks culture is uncommon in Portugal and I found it amazing. Whether
it's a student or someone in a suit, it's certain they will get the most out of
the sunny day! Either way, at lunchtime, they lay on the grass and enjoy their
meal. This brings to mind one of the most-talked about topics regarding the
British culture: the food, that it is perceived worldwide as bad. To be honest,
I can't disagree with this opinion. At least from what I noticed, British food
is a bit plain and most of the meals involve fried food, such as chips, that I
ate in most of the meals. Besides the dish "fish and chips", eating
fish is uncommon, which is something strange for a Portuguese. Nevertheless,
there is a wide range of international restaurants, ranging from Italian to
One of the most interesting facts about British people
is their "new" behaviour on Friday and Saturday evenings. After
leaving the work on Friday, it is common to go to a pub and drink some beers
while catching up with friends. I consider this a very healthy practice. The
problem relies on the amount of beers they drink. After two or three hours, it
is easy to identify the effect of the alcohol and, gradually, the courtesy and
politeness start to go away. This is the exception I mentioned before. Anyway,
going to a pub to drink a couple of beers while listening to live music is an
amazing experience and something typical from Britain!
Last but not least, I found the country a bit divided
by a current affair that involves everyone: the "Brexit". Although
the referendum was in June, it is still one of the main topics of conversation.
I often listened to people discussing it in public places and we also talked
about it in classes. I tried to hear as many opinions as possible so that I
could understand their perspective. The thought on this matter is related to a
broader opinion on globalization and how countries should embrace this
inevitable future reality or not. On the one hand, I found the younger
generation were more open minded and wanted to embrace globalization, even
though there might be negative consequences. Obviously, they wanted to remain
in the EU. On the other hand, the older generation are afraid of open borders
and claim "We want our country back", as a sign of preserving the old
beliefs. They argue that the Great Britain is a powerful nationhood, with a
strong economy and a remarkable history. Consequently, according to them, they
don't want to follow "Brussels' orders". It's important to note that
this correlation between age and opinion wasn't always true.
Sometimes, when talking to British people, it wasn't
easy to understand some words due to the unique accent they have. But after a
couple of days, I started to get used to it and I managed to have several
discussion with the natives. It was an amazing
experience getting to know the British culture. They are incredibly polite and
also funny, mainly on Friday and Saturday evenings, when they are in high
spirits! I am very grateful to have had this opportunity!
BRISTOL OPORTO FOUNDATION GRANT and Ana Anselmo
Ana was awarded a Foundation grant by Trustees to support her project doing unpaid social work with disadvantaged teenagers in Bristol. Here is her story in her own words:
I arrived at Bristol on the 3rd of May to start a placement with Kids Company, under the Erasmus + program. I already had a room to stay in and had a warming welcome by my landlords who picked me up, at night, from the airport, filled my shelf on the fridge and prepared my room for a quiet start in this new city.
I started working on the 5th of May at The Island. I have a very vivid memory of the first day at work; of thinking how chaotic it seemed, with staff coming in and out and full of young people hanging around, laughing and talking loud. It was a, sometimes, hard path to find my way in the team, but soon I learnt to see behind the apparent chaos to find amazing people, from staff to young people, and an extraordinary work being developed. During three months I was a Key Worker and worked close with young people aged 16 to 24, helping them with their needs. During three months I liaised with other agencies, booked meetings, went to appointments, created relationships with the young people and felt accepted by them. Despite being a Social Worker I found it difficult to key work, to respect the young peoples’ timings, decisions and their own evolution whilst being there for them, always. Unfortunately, nothing does last forever and, due to financial problems, Kids Company entered receivership at the beginning of August. To confirm the importance of the work done by this charity, the Local Authority and Creative Youth Network joined forces to bring a softer closure to Kids Company and The Island ran for another month to find its end at 4th of September 2015. And with it also did my placement.
During these last few days I took care of everything to be able to legally work in the UK and I plan to stick around for a while longer. Bristol is a vibrant city, with beautiful views and people, a lot do and experience. Since I arrived I went on a lot of touristic tours and sightseeing, but also tried to experience life as a local and am proud to say that I am getting able to cope with four seasons changing throughout the day!
I have to thank Bristol Oporto Association, especially to Liz, not only for the financial support, but also for linking me with Kids Company. Despite the sudden ending of a placement primarily thought to end in October, I gathered a totally worthy 4 months' work and life experiences that I will not forget and the possibility of a new start in Bristol.
Ana Anselmo 14th of September, 2015
A FOUNDATION AWARD FOR 2016 – POETRY BOOK LAUNCH
Coming up in the New Year – we have a joint book launch project supported by a grant awarded by the Oporto Foundation. The book is of poetry by Paul Hawkins of Bristol and by Bruno Neiva who lives in Porto. We are pleased to support this venture and the local launch in Bristol should be on 26th March 2016 at Artworks in Stokes Croft. This will be confirmed nearer the time.