I truly believe that it was destiny that Beja and Global Volunteers discovered one another. After all, legend has Beja recognized as a peace center dating back to the Romans and Global Volunteers is all about promoting peace through mutual understanding – a “perfect match.”

Today was about coming together as a team, learning about our mission here and the beginning of formulating many new friendships. It began with a scenic, peaceful journey through the countryside of Portugal. Along the way we discovered orchards of cork and olive trees, grape vineyards and beautiful storks nesting on the poles above. We arrived and quickly settled into our new home for the next two weeks – Residencial Bejense.

After lunch we gathered for orientation. We discussed the dos and donts to remain safe and healthy, reviewed the Global Volunteers manual and what to expect in our new culture. The group settled on six team goals to focus on. We concluded by agreeing on 12 characteristics that are essential for us to become a cohesive and effective team. Dinner at the Tem Avondo; a favorite of previous teams, ended the arduous but productive day. We dined on a feast of traditional foods accompanied by local wines.

So what have I discovered about this eclectic group in one short day? I learned that one volunteer is honored to be on anyone’s list for whatever reason. That another volunteer is oblivious to the traditional greeting and is going right for the lips. That one has differences with a neighbor over what is considered a political statement and the other assumes is “trash.” That still another who admits to be shy about kissing when greeting someone demonstrated no inhibitions jumping into the arms of a gentleman that she had met on a previous trip. She claims that she was pushed but I surmise that it was voluntary and spontaneous.

My intuition tells me that this group, although small in numbers will accomplish much and make a real difference.


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