From October 18th to 25th I had the opportunity to participate in the initiative “Linking University Knowledge on the Camino” / ”Uniendo el Conocimiento Universitario en Camino” as part of the University of Minho team.
The Compostela Group of Universities (CGU) invited UMinho to participate in the commemorative activity of the 25th anniversary of the CGU, which consisted of making a trail (about 100kms) of the Camino de Santiago (Portuguese Way) with the company of the University of Oviedo (Spain) and the University of Monterrey (Mexico).
Each institution had a team consisting of a teacher, a non-teaching technician and 5 masters and/or PhD students. The CGU challenged participants to develop two projects along the way. The first asked participants that through technological resources they could provide greater integration of the people who walk the Camino with the local populations. The second was to take a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and apply it to the reality of the Camino de Santiago. The first project was developed by each university, but the second was done by 3 inter-university teams. On the last day each group should make a presentation of the project.
Starting on the 18th in “O Porriño”, after breakfast we would walk about 20 km to the next pilgrim hostel, some days of heavy rain and other times with a spring sunny day. At the end of the afternoon we would take a rest and exchange ideas for the projects under development. Each team was even challenged to prepare a typical dish for one of the dinners, ours being an inevitable cod dish…
Finally, we all arrived, as planned, in Santiago de Compostela on the 24th. On the 25th the final session of the event took place, where the various projects developed were presented, after a sleepless night preparing the presentations.
The experience was unforgettable, very enriching and very intense. The fact that we spend 24 hours a day with a group of about 20 people, most of them unknown, many of different nationalities and languages, may at first create some discomfort that gradually disappears. By sharing the same space, the same meals, the same problems, the same difficulties, the relationship between everyone can easily be improved. The long walking period represents a large set of hours that allows sharing experiences with the other participants. It is very interesting to see that bonds of friendship, complicity, closer groups are quickly established. From an initial moment that not even the name of each one knows, to a somewhat emotional farewell at the end of the week, when it seemed that we had known all those guys for a long time.
Acácio Costa – EEUM’s IT Specialist