EVS&GEAI Together!

GEAI in ‘Pay It Forward’ Competition

Pay it Forward concept means to respond a person’s kindness by being kind to someone else, if you get something, give something back!

This is the main idea of volunteering and also of the European Voluntary Service.

Leargas, the National Agency that deals with the Erasmus+ programmes in Ireland is celebrating 20 years of European Voluntary Service with a big competition meant to attract more organisation to host and send young people for EVS. There are prizes for the volunteers with the best ideas!

GEAI, as a hosting organisation, entered the competition with a video that we made in order to promote EVS and ourselves.

Lisandra, Cedric and Alice had the visit of Barry, a talented student in the visual arts. Together they filmed a video showing what it means to be part of EVS, what have we done during our year in Ireland and what have we learned.  Also you can also see from the point of view of the hosting organisation what it means.

We had a lot of fun filming and we now realise that it is not an easy job to be a star! It definitely was rewarding when we saw the final result. Please watch our short video below and tell us what you think.

And don’t forget, sharing is caring!

 

Advertisements

6th June: From Game of Thrones to the Games of Politics

6th of June was a bank holiday in Ireland, a proper way to begin the summer!

Here at GEAI the volunteers celebrated by taking a road trip to Antrim  that ended up with a rally and debate at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Parliament.

On our way, we stopped at the Dark Hedges, a beautiful avenue with beech trees, planted in the 18th century near Stranocum, County Antrim. Lately it become famous thanks to the Game of Thrones that filmed several scenes on this road.13407712_10156926586265231_1719594546_n

 

After that we headed to one of the places I most wanted to see: The Giant’s Causeway. This is a World Heritage site in one of the most amazing coasts in Europe.

The Causeway was born due to volcanic activity when highly fluid molten rock was forced up through fissures in the chalk bed to form an extensive lava plateau. The rapidly cooling lava contracted and variations in the cooling rate resulted in the world famous columnar structure. The columns are mainly hexagonal though there are some with up to eight sides.

All the geological explanations will not stop me from marvelling at them. It is absolutely amazing what nature can do!

After photos and a very nice walk we moved a bit more east on the coast to see how ‘dangerous’ is the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

This bridge was built by a fisherman to help him get to this volcanic island that is a good place for salmon. Initially was just rope now it is made of from wood planks and ropes and it is a touristic attraction for adrenaline seekers. We were not so impressed with the ‘danger’, it is safe, just don’t look down! 🙂 The most amazing thing was the colour of the water, the landscape looked so exotic!

13414026_10156926586180231_732580019_n

After this stop we took the coastal road down to Belfast were we attended the demonstration of anti-fracking groups in front of the Parliament Buildings at Stormont making use of our “Stop the Drill” banner! Also we manage to see the debate.

To our surprise the debate was quiet and polite! But we were happy to see support in the public gallery from the campaigners against drilling in the north.

13388850_10208746694521297_1921241670_o

What a day!!

 

 

 

Alice

EVS expedition to Wales

A different experience: CYMRU

Cymru, the welsh name of Wales and Wales is known for its rugged coastline, mountainous national parks, distinctive language and Celtic culture.

I and another volunteer had the chance of visiting Wales, going from Holyhead through Snowdonia down to Lampeter. We went there to participate to the launch of the visitor centre of the Long Wood Community Woodland. This is a social enterprise based around the woodland, they manage timber, growing, cutting, selling in the community but also working as an educational and recreational centre. Now, they opened their visitor centre, all timber, solar panels and compost toilet! I was so happy to be present at the launch and find out how the participant perceives and relates with nature.

Visitor centre

Visitor centre

Also, our accommodation was in an Eco Lodge, Denmark Farm. More to admire here, because it’s an amazing place, a conservation centre where you have accommodation in the middle of wildlife in a place that fits so naturally in the environment. It runs on biomass and solar energy and they also has a system in place that saves water and treats waste water using natural processes.

The campsite has an outdoor wood kitchen and a compost toilet. If you don’t have a tent you can rent the ‘Yurt’. What is a yurt? Is a Mongolian portable round tent. Traditionally it is covered with animals’ skins, sustained by wood, and is used as a dwelling by nomads in Central Asia.

The yurt in the camping site is the modern version, very spacious, has place for 4 persons but can have extra beds, it’s heated with wood stove and it keeps the heat in a very efficient way. Also if the sun is shining it gets very, very warm. You can admire the stars at night through the wheel on the roof that sustains the frame.

It’s an amazing place to really be in nature, forget about electricity, internet find other ways to entertain yourself, have nature walks, enjoy quality time with others.

At least for some days…then back to technology otherwise I won’t be able to write this post!

The trip made me more aware of the possibilities that nature offers us through biomass, very useful for my current research!

Amazing Wales…I was impressed to see that people there speak Welsh and kids are going to bilingual schools so they preserve their old language through time.

They care about nature, they are very proud of their green forests and the Snowdonia mountains.

The place and the people made me feel very cosy and welcomed, I can also say there are similarities with the Irish atmosphere and that is normal since we are talking about a Celtic culture.

Alice

A nature walk in Cladagh Glen – Fermanagh

^1A57165DCE87B458BF32BA66B4880E9D5A61CF21FB9CE1B8BD^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrLast Friday us volunteers went for a nature walk in Cladagh Glen Walk, located in Co. Fermanagh. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day and we had a great time!

It was a good opportunity to see some of the Irish spring flowers, such as bluebells and primroses, and surprisingly for me: wild garlic! Never heard about it, in my entire life! But, is very tasty and incredible beautiful! There was wild garlic all over Cladagh Glen. It changes the landscape, for sure, after 3 months of rain and clouds, all over Ireland. The green forest is being transformed by the spring colours, mainly blue (bluebells) and white (wild garlic) and is very impressive! Slowly we are getting the summer spirit! Longer nights, brighter days, colour and energy!

Wherever I go in Ireland, my reaction is always the same: “Wow! I don’t have words to describe this landscape!” In Cladagh Glen I had, again, one of those moments. Even me, from the Azores, I can say that I saw the most beautiful landscapes of my life in Ireland.

I never took so many beautiful pictures, as in Ireland. My family and friends are amazed with the Irish landscape and culture, and so am I.For me, the most beautiful scene was the Cascades waterfall. So stunning!  And of course a nice place for a group picture!

foto

But now, a bit of culture and curiosities:

  • Claddagh Glen

Claddagh Glen takes its name from the Cladagh river, which rises from Marble Arch Caves, below Cuilcagh Mountain. It is also part of the Marlbank National Nature.

  • Marble Arch Caves

It was a French cave explorer Edouard Alfred Martel, accompanied by a young Dublin born scientist named Lyster Jameson, who first ventured into the darkness of the cave in 1895.

  • Maggie’s Hole

The legend goes that a local young girl, called Maggie Duffy, was running down from the mountain and across the arch when she fell through the hole and into the river below. She was wearing wide, voluminous skirts, which opened like a parachute so she floated downwards and lived to tell the tale.

  • Bluebells

They are not protected under international law, such as CITES or the EU Habitats Directive, but they are protected under UK law.

In the end, it was a lovely sunny afternoon, a good opportunity to explore Cladagh Glen’s landscape and forest, with some cultural moments and fun with the GEAI team.

20th April: the 3 volunteers visited a sustainable farm in Fermanagh

James, a friend of GEAI presented us his farm, a different farm, where you can find a ‘little’ wind turbine, a big wood boiler and plenty of solar panels.

He was one of the first people around to install a wood boiler.

Buying wood is very expensive, that’s why I burn only my own wood that I plant in my fields and sometimes I use wooden waste like pallets”, says James.

He was a lucky though because his family owns some hectares of forest land and the wood that he cut is estimated to last between 5-8 years. Before to be useful, trees should grow up during 20 years minimum, that is the perfect age when the size is enough to burn it but not too large to be difficult to cut. Next step, wood must be dried in a hangar and after to be cut in logs fit for the boiler.

2016-04-20_Farm Palm Wood (2)

The boiler has a 40 kW capacity and in the 10 years of use he only replaced 4 small parts.

We were amazed how huge the boiler was but also his house is big.

The wind turbine

Near to his farm, James decided to construct a small windmill as part of his master degree project. In this place, the wind in sufficient to rotate the palm. Inside the windmill, the system is easy: the rotary movement moves the electric generator. A power cable leads the electricity produced to the James’ house. “I chose this place for my windmill because here is the windier field of my farm. There are no land forms or forest around and it is not so far to my house but not too close to hear it” explains James. The energy produced is controlled by an electricity meter. The turbine is mostly active at night time and he uses the energy to charge his electric car.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

His car has a 60 miles autonomy, is not much but is good to go to work and back!

But James is very proud of his solar panels. He installed them almost one year before – 16m2  of solar with a 44 kW power and in a sunny day they would produce 3.5 units.

For him are a very good option and even in winter he can get some electricity despite the weather.

We were impressed with all that we saw, but we also understand that you have to have a passion for tinkering to be able to manage and maintain all that, he really like what he does and he is always looking for new ideas. Is a lot of work involved, of course, but Ireland, because of the climate, is a place where you have to be very resourceful and take in consideration many options for heating and electricity if you want to be sustainable and to save some money.

2016-04-20_Farm Palm Wood (11)

Solar panels

COPYRIGHT

® All rights reserved to GEAI. 2014