Opening Ceremony kicks off Portuguese Semester


On January 15, over 600 people got together online for the Opening Ceremony of the Portuguese Semester at the Joint Research Centre (JRC).

In these challenging times, we were happy to see that turning the usual in-person event into an online one, allowed us to celebrate the start of the Portuguese Semester across all JRC six sites as well as in many different countries (we traced back people to 28 countries, excluding ‘the moon’ from where someone was present according to our poll).

We started the day at the JRC Ispra entrance welcoming the colleagues who entered the site with tea, a postcard and lovely handmade flowers. We thought of, and chose each of these gifts with love, care and some fun too.

The postcards were inspired by our ´barquinho de papel´ and we hope you can use them to reach out to someone you have not seen in a while. It can be the friend across the street that current restrictions do not allow you to see or  your family that you didn’t greet last Christmas. Just use it to make someone happy. We will be sending copies to all sites and we hope slowly but steadily each one of you at the JRC can have a postcard in your hands! The flowers … oh the flowers! They were the result of the work of an un-famous (yet!) Portuguese artist with as much generosity as creativity. Natália made use of waste material such as recycled cardboards, plastic wraps, coffee capsules and wrapping paper to create unique flowers that are already embellishing and greening our Semester.  And finally the Gorreana tea for you to enjoy a nice cup of tea on these cold winter days. You can read all about the Portuguese connections with tea here.



The opening ceremony held online counted with the participation of the Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, the Ambassador of the Portuguese Republic to Italy Pedro Nuno Bartolo, and the Director General of the JRC, Stephen Quest. The ceremony was chaired by João Cruz, a stand-up comedian and researcher.

Commissioner Elisa Ferreira stressed out the importance of anchoring EU policies on sound scientific advice in order to succeed in building back better and the very important role of the JRC. In her intervention, she also welcomed the initiative of the JRC of celebrating the start of each Presidency of the Council of the EU with cultural, recreation and scientific events connected to the member state acting as chair.

Sandra Caldeira and Ricardo Sousa, Presidents of the Portuguese Semester Organising Committee, unveiled our plans for the next six months and our motto: ‘Dreams drive reality’. Our motto and the ‘Pedra Filosofal’ poem behind it are pure inspiration. Dreams are behind humanity’s greatest achievements and António Gedeão, the author of this poem, a scientist too, lists them up until the man landed on the moon. With our motto we are determined to dream but also to deliver, responding to the Presidency’s motto too.



Portuguese singer and composer Manuel Freire closed the ceremony by singing the poem ‘Pedra Filosofal’ in what was a very special and touching moment for all of us. His voice and Gedeão's words are still an inspiration to millions of Portuguese.



If you missed it go and watch the recording of the ceremony!