We organised this activity in order to provide the newly-arrived international students with the opportunity to meet other international students who were also just arriving in Coimbra, or had been there already. The goal was to foster intercultural dialogue and understanding between different nationalities and cultures in an informal setting, where students talk about anything they wanted.
This activity was the first event in our Welcome Month, being held at "Parque Verde", which is a large park near the Mondego river and the city downtown.
As of 15th of September, gatherings in Portugal were limited to 10 people. For this reason, the 50 participants were divided into 5 groups of 10 people; each group was composed by 1 volunteer and around 9 international students. Everyone wore a mask and respected social distancing, during the entire activity. Everyone got their temperature checked, at the beginning of the event.
After a brief introduction concerning COVID-19 restrictions, our volunteers encouraged the participants to spread across the space and talk to the people in their groups. If they felt like the conversation was stalling, they would jump in with questions to keep it going. Volunteers also organized games in order to keep a fun and enjoyable environment.
After the activity, some volunteers and participants left together to continue to hang out, which only shows that the activity was successful and that our main goal - to break the ice between the newcomers, ESN volunteers, and other mobility students - was achieved. Students were enthusiastic throughout the event, and many met people who would later become their friends. Everything went well, despite the restrictions imposed because of the ongoing pandemic.