Over lunch today, enjoying the view over to nearby Naxos, we were able to sit down with Gabriela, one of our Long Stay Program participants. People of all ages come from all over the world to Paros island and take advantage of what our program offers: an immersion in daily life at Tao’s. This means participation in Tao’s daily activities and programs and working at the Center in a soulful international community. Portuguese Gabriela, an independent development and education consultant who works with international NGOs and government organisations, is one of these fascinating people. Her work has taken her across Africa where she evaluates educational programs and projects and was most recently engaged by UNICEF to do research with the Provincial Government of Huila in Angola on the demographics of children and how to create conditions for them to go to school.
Gabriela was born in Porto, Portugal, to a humble working family at the cusp of the revolution in 1970. At the turning point in history when Portugal went from a dictatorship to democracy in 1975, the country opened up to the rest of the world and education became available. With a passion for learning, Gabriela worked multiple jobs to afford her education and independence – working sometimes two jobs during the day and studying at night. “I am the product of the first generation of massified education in Portugal,” she explained. Upon graduating from the University of Porto in language and translation studies, Gabriela began work at a publishing house as an editions coordinator producing books. Gabriela was also volunteering at NGO’s and nurturing her passion for contributing to positive social change. After three years at the publishing house she returned to university to do a Masters in African Studies with a focus on gender equality and education and decided to do her master’s thesis through fieldwork in Mozambique, Africa. She got involved with the Ministry of Education there and opportunities flowed from there. “My project was to understand how girls from poor backgrounds would benefit from a bilingual program at school.” Gabriela now works on many projects in Africa since then.
“At this point, I am ready again for a change. I decided to take some time to heal and have space – so here I am at Tao’s!” Gabriela knew Tao’s retreat from one of her past visits to Paros and read about our Long Stay Program. “The Greek Islands are my second favourite place in the world after home, and I remembered Tao’s for the atmosphere of quietness and the sense of involvement with your surroundings.” Now she is taking time, in a routine of taking care of herself, drinking coffee, participating in the Tao’s activities such as yoga, pilates, The Ring, and working on the garden. She also learned how to ride a quad bike for the first time! She’s finding a soulful nourishment in simple daily tasks “I loved just getting up at 7.30 today in the morning silence and quietly tending to the garden and preparing the meditation hall.” Watering the olive trees allows her to have simple moments to reflect. Gabriela has made deep connections with the other Long Stay Program participants and the wider international community at Tao’s that she will treasure.
Just before heading off to share lunch with the other Long Stay Program participants, Gabriela, reflecting on her journey so far, told us “learn to go with the flow. Life rarely goes according to plans. Things are always changing. In every choice, we gain and we lose, and you have to be OK with that.”
To read more about our Long Stay Program, our daily activities and our workshops, please visit our website