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editorial

I

Editor-in-chief:

Katryna Storace acting-editor:

Christine Spiteri Editorial Board:

Claire Bonello Elizabeth Galea Philip Leone-Ganado proofreading:

Matthew Bonanno head designer:

Jonathan Mifsud DESIGN & Production:

Isabel Micallef

HEAD illustrator:

Daniela Attard Illustrators:

t was 00:54 am. A dedicated team had just marked its 11th hour within the four walls of the Insite office. Truth be told, we were still waiting for a miraculous tidal wave to hit our inboxes, flooding it with late articles. Fast-forward to three days later, and the long-awaited seventh edition had finally been compiled. It is amazing how one’s appreciation of the concept of time increases when faced with a strict deadline – and yet there are still many who fail to understand the serious consequences of a missed deadline. The fate of a magazine - such as the one you are holding now - depends very much on respecting deadlines. This is one of the reasons why you are reading this edition in Summer. We would like to apologise for this delay. Fittingly, this edition’s contents are a testament to the very values that are vital to its success. In a sense, this edition has a lot in common with the World Cup, featured on pages 42-46. Both were filled with surprises. Both were a display of sheer dedication, determination and a huge team effort. ‘Team Dice’, interviewed on page 18-19, were the ‘underdogs’ in a programming competition. By keeping these values in mind, they became the first Maltese students to reach the Top 12 in the prestigious Imagine Cup. This Special Edition would not have been possible without the personal contribution of a number of dedicated individuals, not forgetting to mention those who have contributed to the Insiter’s success in the past. This publication would like to thank each person who has chipped in to this small triumph, particularly in moments when we felt we were simply running up and down the pitch without scoring.

Adrian Abela, Camille Felice, Yentl Spiteri PhotographERs:

inside

Stephen Gatt, Yentl Spiteri, Keith Tedesco STYLISTS:

Claire Galea, Stefan Vella

6 insnippets

Media Officer:

Vanessa Psaila

8 insight

Contributors:

Anna Abela, Claire Bonello, Stephanie Calleja, Martin CallejaUrry, Robert Caruana, Chris Ellul, Massimo Farrugia, Elizabeth Galea, Philip Leone Ganado, Michelle Grech, Warren Sammut, Christine Spiteri, Christopher Spiteri cover:

Yentl Spiteri

10 infocus

Engineering moments

17

14 ineurope

in volved: Imagine going top

Kenneth J Vella

21 P’OUT!

the insiter’s surprise centre

26

A cultural policy for uom

16 inhershoes

Don’t read this column

Special thanks:

© 2010 Insite – The Student Media Organisation. All rights reserved.

Europe’s ideas come from Aachen

15 PHilip’s column

17 INvolved

Imagine going top

20 inthespotlight All about porn

21 P’OUT! 22 interview

instyle

No Bling

28 ingear

Majestic Mini Minor

29 incognito

The Insiter is published eight times a year by Insite – The Student Media Organisation and is distributed free on campus.

41 inthegame

University of Malta Msida msd 2 0 8 0 TEL:

2340 3066 e-mail:

editorial@insiteronline.com Website:

insiteronline.com

Rejkjavik calling

35 inspire

You can leave your thinking hat on

Correspondence:

insite – the student media organisation

The Nitpicker

30 iniceland

46 inperson

Personality of the month

36 intheblogs

Stuff white people like

37 inreview 38 insights

A year later...

40 Fun Page 41 inthegame

World Cup Fever

42 inthegame

Wave your notes

44 interview

Twenty-third man

46 inperson

Paul der Krake


6 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

insnippets news stories THAT CAUGHT our attention this month

University Canteen under new management Whoever was on campus in the past few days and had to quench their thirst or get some grub, surely paid a visit to the uni canteen and detected something noticeably different. JM Operations, the new operators, took over management of both the University canteen and the Junior College canteen as from the 1st of July, 2010. Although the counters aren’t currently brimming with the usual edible delights, here’s hoping that a wider selection of healthier and tastier food will be available to students and staff alike throughout the coming academic year. New degree in Occupational Therapy available at uom Applicants may now enroll online for a four-year B.Sc (Hons) Degree in Occupational Therapy. This undergraduate course will start in October and aims to provide students with theoretical as well as practical classes in disciplines ranging from psychology to medicine, research skills, and health promotion. The all-inclusive course programme mirrors the multitude of concerns that occupational therapy consists of, the most important of which is rehabilitating individuals after having undergone health problems. Occupational therapy students may later on find work in school, clinic, health promotion and community service settings. The Elizabeth Mann Borgese Scholarship Named after its founder Elisabeth Mann Borgese, this bursary worth €3,950 will be awarded to an individual person or a whole team carrying out research in marine or ocean studies at the University of Malta across an academic year. The scholarship is funded by

the International Ocean Institute’s Women, Youth and Sea programme, and intends to draw attention to Malta as the country hosting the awardees. By the end of the studying period, the recipients must write a report on the research he/she carried out, which will later on be published in the IOI Yearbook. Warm Evenings on Campus After being held at the Old University Building in Valletta for two years in a row, Evenings on Campus return to their original location; the University Campus in Msida. This series of performances spans from July 25th till August 10th. This year’s activities, sponsored by KPMG, Corinthia Group, British Council, AudioSystems, and the Italian Institute of Culture, include two one-act comedies by WhatsTheirNames Theatre, a photography installation entitled ‘Under the Lighthouse’ a Chinese film evening, and a book reading by acclaimed author Simon Mawer, among others. Each performance will kick off at 8.30pm. The general theme chosen this year is “Coming of Age – Self Discovery”. Intellectual Rendezvous for English Professors A Conference of the International Association of Professors of English (IAUPE) will call together around 180 well-known English academics from different universities across 32 countries all over the world. There will be attendees from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Toronto, Vienna, Bologna, Venice and Paris among others. The Conference, convened by current IAUPE president Professor Peter Vassallo, will be held from the 19th until the 23rd of July, and will take place at the Old University building in Valletta. The main panel speakers

will be Dame Gillian Beer from Cambridge and Professor John Carey from Oxford. The Conference Programme consists of 18 sections including ‘Shakespeare & The Renaissance’, ‘The Romantics’, ‘The Victorians’ and ‘Contemporary British Writers’.

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Found something news worthy? news@insiteronline.com

For full news stories check out insiteronline.com


illustration adrian abela


insiteronline.com 9

Uni-ology anon.

I

am not weird - I just don’t regard myself as a fussy person, that’s all. Others may think that I’m so laid back, I could almost be horizontal. On a typical normal-looking Wednesday afternoon at the uom, I sat myself down somewhere quiet where no one usually goes. I tend to relish in times of divine solitude, helps me gather enough energy to muster up a fake smile when I am surrounded by certain species of people. I took my time to excavate the brown paper lunch-bag from the bottom of my bag, as I admired the wafting plumes of cirrus clouds through thin sky. My mother always prepared my favourite chicken-mayo sandwich, and it used to taste even better if indulged in my little corner in the shade as I observe random people prancing about haphazardly just like particles in a gas molecule - as we learnt in our simpler days. That day however, as I opened my lunch bag, my stomach gave a loud lurch as i noticed that a black sheet of paper had replaced my daily edible treat. Being the curious person that I am, I picked it up, and through my fingers, I could see it change colour. i squinted thoughtfully, as what was initially black had radically transformed into a palette of vibrant hues. As I gazed transfixed by the colours, I felt a force, almost like that of a magnet, pull me deeper and deeper into the paper until I was finally part of it. The colours had settled into a picture which depicted a park setting, where I stood on a bridge, over a lake beneath a lovely tree of pretty pink flowers. I took my time to skip around and imitate the chirping birds that took flight just over my head. I followed the terracotta brick paving

while contorting my neck this way and that, in order to make sure I got a full view of all the surroundings. The ambience was mystical; I heard a sound of music somewhere in the background. I spotted some kind of tall tower at a distance and sprinted towards it. As I walked through the opening, I was strangely welcomed by a watch-dog who flashed me a smile. ‘He seemed so oddly comfortable in his resting position that it seemed to me that he would not have budged, even if his life depended on it. I continued to walk around and embrace the surroundings. As I struggled to climb onto a horse, it gave out a neigh. I was sure that it did not look real but as I pulled on its brace it galloped off into nowhere. I looked behind me to see an abyss and the path beneath was stamped with the horse’s hooves. I was forced to sharply turn my head to face in front of me, as the horse broke into a canter and we both fell into the lake. I was drenched. As I waded closer toward the shallow end, I looked at my reflection in the water and recognised the girl staring back at me was someone familiar. Before I could make out who it was, I sought my face through the ripples but, before I could make out who it was, the vision was blurred as a boat which sped past at a distance, when it started to rain...I could hear someone beckon me, but all I could see was the silhouette of a boat shrinking across the horizon. In a blink of an eye I found myself back in my favourite corner, still sitting alone staring at the black piece of paper and still hungry.


10 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

infocus

Engineering Moments Chris Ellul, takes us on a verbal tour through the exhibition organized by the faculties of Engineering and Ict as a soon-to-be engineering graduate

T

he engineering and Ict exhibition takes place at the end of each university year and serves a number of purposes: mainly that of acting as a showcase of the students’ projects both to the general public and to any prospective students. The exhibition is also a means of bridging the gap between students and the industrial sector, by exposing ourselves to qualified individuals working in a similar field, and perhaps even potential employers. Both students from the engineering faculty together with those from Ict were undoubtedly anxious while sitting in front of their PCs designing the most attractive and informative project poster they could muster, for this event would reflect our laborious efforts throughout the final year. The engineering

projects investigated innovative and interesting technologies, ranging from materials to electronics. All students endured the arduous process of the research and theoretical aspects before actually implementing their projects into practice. Along with the final product, one should also appreciate the process of brainstorming and lateral thinking a student goes through, in order to come up with something innovative that would benefit the industry. This was also practiced by the Ict section. The Ict students tackled subjects varying from music, flight simulations and holiday planning. These projects differed mainly from those presented by the engineering students because there did not necessarily require the build-up of actual hardware.

30th June 2010 Today saw the opening ceremony of the exhibition. Smartly dressed students and their proud parents gathered in front of the computer building to listen to a number of speeches. The session was introduced by the dean of the engineering faculty, Prof. Robert Ghirlando, after which he went on to thank a wealth of people who in some way contributed to the engineering faculty. The next person behind the microphone was the minister for resources and rural affairs, the Hon. George Pullicino who said how proud he was of the amount of students who made it through the rigorous years at the university. He also went on to remind us of the current local and

international hurdles which we may or will need to tackle with our newly gained knowledge. The next two speakers were Ms. Marija Cauchi – a B. Eng. (Hons.) student coming from the island of Gozo - and Mr. Dylan Seychell, a B.Sc. IT (Hons.) student. Both representative students spoke about their experiences throughout the challenging years of their course; which apart from gaining a substantial amount of knowledge at a respectable level, was coloured by new faces who became colleagues and better still, friends. Later, presentations from the industry and awards to students were given. This time we saw companies such as Enemalta, Lufthansa Technik group and Toly products have their say. A handful of privileged students received awards such as for best academic performance throughout the course as well as best finalyear projects of 2009, amongst others. The ceremony ended with a much welcomed open bar and variety of finger food which helped the mingling process between parents and


insiteronline.com 11

1st July 2010 lecturers, and perhaps gave us students the feeling of being V.I.Ps. As a well fed smile appeared on most faces we all proceeded to our respective project stands spread around the engineering and computing building as well as the metallurgy and materials laboratory where I was located – a place I can call `home away from home`. Parents swarmed these areas and we happily tried to explain to them what it is we did for our final year project, albeit in much simpler terms. I don’t know if this was everyone’s experience, but I still found my parents scratching their heads and eyebrows raised after explaining my thesis project yet again for the umpteenth time. The day ended with a good feeling, from the students’ side as well as their parents and lecturing staff. As we all congratulated each other and made plans for the evening, we began leaving the university grounds contently.

Day 2 – the first official public opening of the exhibition which was held in the afternoon. As we took our places beside our beloved project posters adorned with images of our work, prospective students were ushered in and each of us eager beavers tried to grab their attention. It was very gratifying to find a genuine interest not the mention a surprising amount of attention from these youngsters as well as the more elderly public who perhaps find the technicalities of our work rather hard to comprehend. Nevertheless I felt that a

2nd July 2010 very satisfying grade of communication was being established during the exhibition period and it was pleasant to note how teenagers accompanied by their parents were encouraged by the latter to pursue the engineering course. After a couple of batches of people had listened to what we had to say, the Hon. Minister George Pullicino came in to spend some time to listen to our work. He was impressed with the work carried out at the engineering faculty and encouraged us to publish as many scientific papers as possible. During his round, camera shutters flipped up and down constantly, as was expected. He then proceeded to visit the other projects located in the computing and engineering buildings. At one point, a good friend of mine from Ict came over to our lab to see what I was up to throughout my final year. Since `business was slow`, I took the opportunity to return the favour, so I visited the Ict students’ projects located in the computing building and had a gander at the intriguing possibilities of computer processing power coupled with very powerful software, managed by very able people – WOW! Just as the exhibition time ended, we met up with the rest of the engineering students and they told us how packed the faculty was with people!

Day – 3 in most respects more of the same, with the added good willed atmosphere amongst us knowing that today is the last day. Somehow, more technically oriented individuals (both local and foreign) visited our stands this time, looking to understand the potential of our studies. Finally, the whole exhibition came to an end. Although we were all rather exhausted and needed a well earned drink, we were all ecstatic about what’s next in our lives as fresh graduates! Forgive the technical outlook of this article, but I’m an engineering graduate after all. Now all I need is a job!

photographs uom


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insiteronline.com 13

illustration iella


ineurope

14 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

Europe’s ideas come from Aachen by Massimo FarrugiA

E

ach May, at the town hall of the city of Aachen, Germany, youths from all over the European Union gather to ponder on the origins of their own continent’s political and cultural life. They mingle and discuss ‘who they are’, ‘where they come from’, and ‘who they want to be’, as they wonder in earnest whether their project has won or not. Bringing together the best ideas and projects offering practical examples of Europeans living together, Aachen becomes a spawning ground for ideas - culture, politics and the European worldview - just as it was in the 8th century when Charlemagne made it his de facto regal residence and raised its profile to a kind of Medieval capital of Western Europe. What started in the city of Aachen in the early Medieval period - including the cultural and political ideas which shaped many European values that accorded Charlemagne his historic stature and the title ‘father of Europe’ - continues today, and is celebrated each year in the form of a Prize awarded by the European Parliament and the Charlemagne Prize Foundation. Set up in 2008, the Charlemagne Youth Prize is awarded to youth projects such as exchange programmes, youth conferences and internet projects with a European dimension, and therefore often involving participants from a number of Member States. A winning project is selected from each of the EU’s 27 Member States after a public call. Each national winner is then invited for the award-giving ceremony in Aachen where the top three European Projects are selected. This year, the German project “European CNC Network Train for Europe”, bringing together 24 vocational schools to build a small-gauge locomotive and wagons, was awarded first prize. The project, a Comenius school partnership created in November 2006 and co-ordinated by the Bad Kreuznach Vocational School, brought together over 1,500 trainees from 24 vocational schools to build a locomotive and wagons on the Air-

bus principle. The train has a gauge of 90mm, a total length of around eight metres, and runs on a 12-metre circular track. European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said the project testified “to exactly the essence of the European idea: acting together, overcoming the limits of boundaries, the discovery of diversity and its potential”. Second and third prizes went to “You are here”, an Irish book project and “Best Engineering Competition BEC” from Bulgaria respectively. Who can take part? The European Charlemagne Youth Prize is granted to projects undertaken by people between 16 and 30 years old, and which deal with EU development, integration and European identity issues. What kinds of projects are eligible? Youth exchange programmes, youth conferences and internet projects with a European dimension are amongst the projects selected. These should serve as role models for young people and offer practical examples of Europeans living together as one community. Who awards the Prize? The European Charlemagne Youth Prize, jointly organised by the European Parliament and the Charlemagne Prize Foundation, is awarded annually. The three winning projects are usually awarded funding of €5,000, €3,000, and €2,000 respectively. They will also be invited to visit the European Parliament in the next months. Selection procedure National juries consisting of at least two MEPs and one representative of a youth organisation have selected a national winner from each of the 27 Member States. In April, the European jury, consisting of three MEPs, the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, and four representatives of the Foundation of the International Charlemagne Prize, selected the three winners from the 27 projects. If you think your project would make an interesting entry for the European Charlemagne Youth Prize get in touch with the European Parliament Office in Malta by calling 21235075 or emailing epvalletta@europarl.europa.eu. If you wish to ask for information in person, turn up at Europe House, 254, St Paul Street, Valletta.


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A Cultural Policy for uom

illustration camille felice

Dear Stephanie Soler and Mario Cachia, The Common Room is a common room Unfortunately our University is not blessed with world class theatres, rehearsal rooms, studio cinemas, dance studios, or music halls. I’m not asking ksu to provide us with these things. But for our budding artists, the beleaguered Common Room is all those things. So let’s start by not charging students money to use facilities common to all of us (it’s all in the name, you see). Then perhaps we can redecorate it with a thought to something more than how much money Melita plc is willing to toss at us, so any students intrepid enough to present their art there will be able to welcome guests to something more than the interior design equivalent of an outhouse. And finally, we can set about actively encouraging students to make use of the Common Room for their artistic endeavours, rather than dissuading them with bureaucratic hoola-hoops (on fire). You have money, us not so much Money makes the world go round, you know. To stage a play, one needs to rent a theatre, buy performance rights, buy or rent costumes and props, build a set, and print flyers, posters, and programmes, quite apart from hiring directors, cast, and crew as required. By way of example, my first production with WhatsTheirNames Theatre was done on a skeleton budget of €400; upping the scale even minutely for the next production required an additional investment of €1200. Having to pump out that much money just to get your work seen by people has dissuaded many bands, drama troupes and dance companies, and yet ksu takes down so much money each year in revenue and corporate sponsorship that these costs must seem like mere beer money to you. The solution seems simple enough – invest, and you’ll be amazed at the returns in terms of student involvement in the arts. It’s like those OXFAM ads – a simple grant of €500 can inspire a team of student artists to take the leap and put their work out there, and let’s stop fooling ourselves: you can afford a lot more than one such grant. Have you heard of TESPI? I’ll assume you haven’t. TESPI is the name of a performance space nestled behind the Faculty for the Built Environment. It is a small Greek amphitheatre, and while it is a little more than a hole in the ground it has seating for a hundred and fifty patrons,

An open letter to ksu’s new Culture Office A monthly Opinion column by philip Leone-ganado

magnificent acoustics and enormous potential. But problems such as its position on the ring road and the lack of adequate light and sound fittings make using it quite difficult right now. It would be so easy to fix the place up, and University students would have a second space for theatre, dance and readings. So why have your predecessors allowed it to sit there derelict while students pay prices far beyond their means to use facilities off campus? You probably don’t know the answer to that any more than I do, but unlike me, you have the opportunity to do something about it. Students’ Fest Let’s say I wanted to direct my own play. I would first need to find some good material, recruit some decent actors (despite having no money or recognition to offer them), find a suitable venue, somehow attract an audience (having no name to draw in the masses), and undertake a huge financial risk, probably out of my own pocket. Or I could get myself onto ksu and bypass all that extravagant mucking about. The last two iterations of the Culture Office seemed to believe that being SDM’s most cultured individual (allegedly) also made them the single student(s) best suited to coordinate and direct an event intended to showcase student talent, often involving close friends in the effort, you know, because ksu’s friends are ipso facto the most suitable for any task whatsoever. The substandard (to be generous) productions of Ommi Ma and Robin Hood that we were forced to witness demonstrated two things: first, they were horribly wrong; second, the talent is there, and it is being squandered by people with more money and self-worth than sense or prudence. For the love of Thespis, do not make the same mistake. This year, put out a wide call for writers, directors, and performers, and then judge what you receive fairly, and with regard to talent and potential, as evidenced by auditions and by previous work. Nothing else. Or, if you too want to direct your own musical, do it the hard way, like the rest of us do. Thank you for your kind attention, and I wish you all best of luck for the coming year. Break a leg. Yours, Philip Leone-Ganado.


inhershoes

16 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

Don’t read this column.

Apparently, I’m dull and boring.

Full-time law student and former editor of The Insiter, Anna Abela, shares her ideas in a monthly column

S

ince you’ve decided to read it anyway, I’ll let you in on a secret: I started looking forward to University from the tender age of three. My mother, a University lecturer, would occasionally take me with her to work. Being a gregarious child, I soon befriended the beadles, her students and the occasional stray kitten. Against this backdrop, and amid the colourful characters who inhabited it, my imagination would run riot. When I did finally make it to University, this time as a bona fide student, I was overcome with sheer expectation. This was it. Much like the naive protagonist in An Education, I relished the thought of the books I would read and the steep learning curve that surely lay ahead. If this narrative were a movie trailer, this is where the saccharine-sweet soundtrack would suddenly grind to a halt. After a few months at University, I quickly got used to the idea that a fair few of my lecturers put very little premium on intellectual discovery. Lectures were often spartan and utilitarian. Debate was rare. Critical thinking was not particularly encouraged. I still remember the disillusionment I felt after my first tutorial, when I tactfully expressed my differences with a lecturer on a philosophical argument, only to be met with a disproportionate volley of disapproval. This set the tone for a large part (though, thankfully, not all) of my undergraduate life. When, last month, the results of a ksu survey among University students revealed that more than half thought lectures were not stimulating, I finally felt vindicated. But instead of the flurry of consternation I half-expected from our more enlightened academics, their reaction has been lukewarm at best and patronising at its worst. The Sunday Times’ editorial trotted out its usual trite clichés about the sheer cheek of stipend-guzzling students, who should take a long hard look at themselves before complaining about their lecturers. Elsewhere, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Dominic Fenech called the entire exercise “pointless”. Yet, surely Dr Mark Anthony Falzon, Head of the Anthropology

Department, takes the biscuit: “The minority of students who constantly moan that lectures are boring tend to be themselves boring and dull.” When I had stopped reeling from the startling discovery that I have been a boring dullard for all these years, I still couldn’t help but feel that the survey’s detractors have completely missed the point. Yes, ksu’s survey had its teething problems. It could have been more holistic, granted. More importantly, it should have been carried out on a faculty-by-faculty basis. Its major flaw was that it unfairly lumped all lecturers in one basket, and, as was to be expected, this has ruffled the feathers of the truly committed among them. Yet, surely, when over half the students surveyed claim not to feel stimulated at University, then dismissing them as “mollycoddled” (the Times’ putdown of choice) is an unacceptable response. The very word ‘stimulated’ implies that these students desire to be engaged – not spoonfed. Surely that is not a sentiment to be discouraged? The survey’s critics have also taken ksu to task over questions about lecturer punctuality. At face value, this may seem a facile thing to ask, but in a University that often depends on part-time lecturers who show varying degrees of commitment to their little bit of lecturing on the side, punctuality and irregular attendance remain daily annoyances for an already demoralised student community. And when your daily experience includes lecturers garbling rehashed notes without once making eye contact, then questions about pedagogy and student participation, however basic, do strike a chord. Seen from the other side of the lecture theatre, the Sunday Times’ and Dr Falzon’s comparisons with Oxbridge seem laughable. Instead of falling over themselves to scapegoat students, they should have taken the survey for what it was: symptomatic of a University where quality assurance is still in its infancy.


insiteronline.com 17

Imagine going top The Microsoft Imagine Cup could very well be the most sought after programming competition accepting applicants from all over the world, and takes place every year. The statistics show an exponential increase in the amount of enthusiasts taking part over the years. Having started with 1,000 participating students in 2003, the number has risen to 325,000 this year. The top three ict institutions on our island – uom, mcast and stc – give their respective students a chance to take part in the major competition, but only the best are chosen to represent our country on an international level. The themes for the projects vary from year to year; for example in 2004, participants were asked to develop a project about how “smart technology makes everyday life easier.” This year, the main theme revolved around tackling the world’s toughest problems through the 8 millennium development goals, as set up by the United Nations encircling the “end poverty 2015 millennium campaign.”

Those who are interested in acquiring more information regarding this competition are advised to contact Dr John Abela on john.abela@um.edu.mt

How to Participate The Faculty of ict gives 2nd Year students the opportunity to develop a software application through a 10 ECTS study unit, and they may also choose to enroll their project in the running for the Microsoft Imagine Cup. • Students must enroll in small groups of 3-4 students each. • The team of students must then come up with an idea for the concept they choose to tackle, whilst remaining faithful to the theme proposed by the organizers. • Once this is done, the team can proceed to the implementation of the project. • Deadlines are very tight and tend to clash with other work related to the course. Therefore students must be willing and dedicated enough to manage their time properly and create a balance, in order to be successful. • Finally, the projects are presented in front of a panel of judges and the best from each of the aforementioned three institutes is chosen to represent Malta and compete on an international level.

involved

The year 2003 saw the birth of the Microsoft Imagine Cup. seven years later, Team Dice, a group of four Ict 2nd Year Students, represented Malta AND placed among the top 12 teams. Jonathan Mifsud catches up with our national programming heroes upon their arrival from Poland.


18 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

Who are Team Dice? Daniela Cauchi, Claire Dimech, Kurt Farrugia and Stefan Lia are four down-to-earth individuals, who came together as Team Dice. Only the girls and the boys knew each other very well before both dyads decided to join forces. Obviously, they had no idea as to whether or not they were going to be successful as a group, however they took the risk and managed to carve a strong enough bond that saw them fly off to Warsaw. The four chose to be called “Team Dice” to refer to the fact that one needs “to roll the dice at the start of every game,” the team explain, implying that the four of them together could be a kick-start to many things. “As time passed and we started working together, we started to realize that we did have the necessary elements of a winning team,” they say. With each member’s contribution, the four proved to be creative, innovative and productive. Out of the seven Maltese finalists, Team Dice won with myDerm. The Project myDerm is a solution dealing with dermatology. The idea is based around the lack of communication between doctors in developed countries and volunteers or health care workers working in less developed countries; Team Dice’s software aims to act as a bridge. “We designed an infrastructure on which this communication can be established, thus allowing the necessary knowledge to reach the patient many miles away,” Kurt explains. “We chose dermatology because this is one of the few areas in medicine where scanning devices such as X-Rays or Ultra Sounds are not a fundamental means order to make a clinical examination. The examinations that are performed with the help of our expert system are consulted by doctors, and the way ahead for treatment is provided.” Since this year’s theme was to create software aiming to solve the world’s toughest problems, namely the 8 millennium development goals, choosing a single title may seem to be quite a daunting feat. “In order to decide which solution we wanted to tackle, each of us had to rank the ideas based on several factors,” Daniela says. “For example, how innovative it is, how technically challenging and how fitting it is to the theme proposed by Imagine Cup requirements. We finally chose ‘bringing medical knowledge to less developed coun-

tries,’” Daniela continues. After having consulting their mentor for advice and experts from the medical field, they refined their original idea to specify dermatology as they all suggested that this area could be perfectly implemented through an ict solution. Sweating it Out With a concept in mind, the team immediately set out to work: “we dedicated almost 50 hours per week for 6 months in our project,” the team confess. In fact, they were so determined that at a point they even sacrificed other projects pertaining to their course at University. Until the reality of the exams looming around the corner finally dawned on them - “we realised we had about 2 weeks left until the end of the semester. By that time we had to finish about 7 assignments each and actually start studying!” Apart from all this, they were faced with other challenges such as working in a group: listening, discussing, sharing of ideas and also putting our theoretical knowledge into practice whilst learning about new technologies. “We have to admit that the technologies we used were nearly all new to us in the beginning. Looking back, we still amaze ourselves as to how we managed to do all this work in just 6 months!” The team also expressed the disappointment they felt at the lack of external support they received. “Malta does not really take this competition seriously,” the team told theInsiter. I could not help but nod in agreement, since I probably would not have even heard of their success if I were not an ict student. “Other countries’ contingents have around four mentors supporting them throughout the entire project, whereas we could not even find a company willing to sponsor us and had to pay for the printing of our brochures, flyers, business cards etc. from our own expenses.” However, on a more positive note, the team was accompanied by Karl Davies - a Microsoft Malta representative and a also journalist from a local newspaper. All in all, this experience proved to be a gamble from the very beginning…


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Special Moments …which in the end, paid off. In Poland, the group received world-wide exposure and it also served as a learning experience through the sharing of ideas with other international students. Thousands of Ict students gathered in Poland and amidst the final 12 were also Masters and PhD students. Daniela recalls the night when the finalists were announced. “We were all holding hands and biting our lips in anticipation. When the presenter uttered: ‘for the very first time, from the small island in the Mediterranean…’ We were screaming our hearts out with joy! The feeling of actually going through to the final 12 will always remain a vivid part of our lives,” she explains, bursting with emotion. “The fact that we are the first Maltese team to actually come this far, magnified our excitement further. From that point onwards, our stay in Poland became much more significant; everyone knew us as the team coming from Malta: the press, journalists and their photographers were all around us. It felt simply amazing - a feeling that will never fade away. Even the thought of it gives us the thrills.” Words of Encouragement The feeling of success is highly contagious. Could we expect more from Team Dice? “Well, the idea of doing it again is very attractive. Many judges and other teams, as well as Microsoft staff encouraged us to try again next year. Judges led us on the right track for a winning solution. We would undoubtedly consider the possibilities of entering the competition again next year,” says Daniela. On behalf of Team Dice, I myself, as an Ict student encourage all prospective competitors to step up to this challenge. It is definitely a once in a lifetime experience which widens up many horizons for us students in particular – it is a kick-start to one’s future in the ever growing world of technology. Team Dice have played the game, became national heroes and it’s not over yet….

What is MyDerm? MyDermOnline is essentially a portal where both patients and doctors can join and share information. A patient will be aided in identifying the skin disease which s/ he currently has using our expert system. The patient is then assigned a doctor who would help throughout the recovery by following the patient’s case and providing essential knowledge. myDerm ensures that: • the necessary knowledge arrives in the correct place • data to be inputted in the expert system is fully verified • a mobile application will help the health care worker when there is no internet access; • full statistical information is available with full customisation; • if any possible outbreaks occur, the correct people are notified. MyDermOnline is targeted at bringing knowledge about skin diseases to less developed countries. In these cases, skin diseases are not given enough importance. They can lead to many social problems, such as loss of production at school and work, and discrimination due to disfigurement. Other serious implications of skin diseases are that they can lead to more serious diseases. In fact, having scabies during childhood would increase the risk of kidney damage several years later. The following points have been highlighted: • Knowledge is easily present in the West, however lacking in developing countries. Furthermore, even though volunteers and social workers are present in these countries, they do not always possess the necessary knowledge regarding skin diseases. • Skin diseases are not given their due importance in developing countries. • The 10 principle missions of the International Foundations of Dermatologists are all based on education. However, we believe that such applications are lacking. www.mydermonline.com www.imaginecup.com


inthespotlight

20 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

All about porn Robert Caruana meets Malcolm Galea to discuss the achievements of porn the musical.

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here’s something about the word Porn or anything porn-related that makes one keen on discovering more about the subject. It’s a phenomenon that has led to many an unsuspecting YouTube browser becoming ‘Rickrolled’ and is generally assumed to be the motivating factor behind the 260 porn websites that pop up on the Internet daily. The spirit of this age is quite simply sex and society’s voyeuristic obsession with it. This is the age of porn. And with that I present the focus of this article: Malcolm Galea’s Porn, the Musical. Some of you out there might feel that the ‘musical’ bit is a bit of a buzz kill, and admittedly it did make it less enjoyable to search on Google; but contrary to being a buzz kill, Porn is a musical packed with double-entendre goodness and raunchy revelry that is sure to please. What makes this play so singular among other home-grown work is the striking success it’s had abroad, going from a local production at the MITP, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to a fringe theatre in London. Sipping his second glass of Coke at the St James Cavalier cafeteria, Malcolm reflects on when the show first opened at the MITP theatre. “At the beginning the tickets didn’t sell very well, but as word spread the audiences grew and on the last day people were forced to sit on the floor, because it was the last time they could see the show.” The play was then reduced to 70 minutes in order to conform to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival regulations and was shipped off to Scotland. Who funded the Edinburgh project? “A random rich guy who we met at one of the show’s after parties,” Malcolm answers. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is generally perceived as being a launching pad for quality acts which haven’t quite made it big yet, so it was important for the play to be received well, which it was. Porn was nominated together with three other plays for the ‘Best new musical’ award, out of about 60 plays. Several people from various nations including Germany and Poland approached the production seeking to take it to their theatres, but the group were only interested in the London theatres, which is exactly where Porn ended up: in a London fringe

theatre called Theatre 503. Although the play has generally attracted sparkling reviews, there have been one or two which were less warm in their appraisal. In a review for The Guardian website , Michael Billington wrote that he expected the play to take its subject seriously and objected to the ‘pervasive jokiness’. He was immediately confronted by a flood of angry fans who pointed out pretty much what Malcolm told me: “If you watch a play called Porn the Musical you ought to know that it’s a piss take. We don’t do morals anymore in 2010. People should make their own decisions. It’s more of a mirror”. I suggest that art reflects society, sticking my little finger out prominently as I hold my cappuccino aloft, but Malcolm is quick to point out that he doesn’t think of himself as an artist. “I just love the medium and work with it.” I had long since abandoned the formal sequence of questions I had prepared as having a conversation with Malcolm turned out to be a bit like trying to figure out how to stem a leak in your flooded bathroom. He had answered most of my questions a minute into our interview (I’m still new at this). “I tell stories. I talk a lot, I enjoy talking and saying stuff and when there’s no one in front of me I write things down so they can hear them later.” I laugh with him as I cross out my last question. Malcolm is talking about how hard it is to establish oneself as a playwright. “The bitch about writing is getting anyone to read it. No one will read your script abroad unless you have an agent, and no agent will read your script because they get hundreds of submissions. Much less one from Malta; who cares?” But through the success of Porn, Malcolm has acquired an international agent and, more importantly, a reputation. I ask him whether he plans on writing more serious plays in the future. “Definitely. I wrote Porn just to get people to watch, even if only because of the title, and once they’d watch it they’d realise it wasn’t bad. I just needed the attention.” If you’ve read my article thus far, then Malcolm’s plan has worked out perfectly.


P’OUT! No Bling Interviewed


22 P’OUT!  •  Special Edition 2010

Don’t bring yo’ bling No Bling is a local band with a twist. Michelle Grech interviews the hard-working sestet in a loud cafe next to the University gate. Even here, it seems they have a spotlight.

N

o Bling is a music group which manages to merge its foundation in hip hop with the diversity in style, inspiration and abilities of the six group members, and all of this in the Maltese language. They show us that to make rap work in Maltese, what you really need is a dedicated band, and members who can “practically live together”. The group has been made up of its current members since last November, but seems to have been successful for far longer. They have clearly dominated Facebook, considering their few gigs, with approximately 1,500 fans. The group members crossed paths in their music carriers through connections and friends who acknowledged that they had talent. The band’s interest in hip hop doesn’t come down to the fact that ‘it’s great to dance to’ or ‘it’s so popular, people are sure to become fans’. Jon tells us that the band’s pre-vision depicted

music “which in lyrics, style and genre promoted social equality, justice and having fun”. Jon adds that “necessity pushed [him] towards the genre [he] loves so much,” and that hip hop expressed this vision best. Roots When one looks at hip hop’s origins in the South Bronx in 1972–73, it is evident that the genre has the same intention of giving a voice to those who lacked one, and to create peace and harmony primarily by getting communities to work together. Born in a culture which still did not have clubs or bars, groups used to organise ‘block parties’ in which they would plug equipment into street lamps. They were an attraction to all, including different gangs, even punks and hippies. Fights between gangs and deaths still existed, but at least a popular culture


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Alan iz-zghir

Dana McKeon

Chris it-Toffer

Jon

Benji L-Banjo

Il-Morales

was promoting opposite beliefs. Interestingly enough, hip hop is a mix of African-American, Jamaican and Latino influences combined in the form of another combination of genres like funk and soul. Gigs The band gives value to the designing and promoting of its own gigs, which up till now have included Id-Dell ta’ Lucija and Figolla No Bling. They also participated in ‘Jamming Session’ at the Open Centre, Marsa, and a recent gig at Hard Rock Cafe. Their best venue to date was Il-Buskett, and their best show musically was Figolla No Bling. Planned projects for this summer include the Għana Fest, and a massive outreach gig at the Open Centre. Although the crowd’s favourite song is ‘Lucija u Samwel’, a song based on the story of a couple of teenagers in Mosta, distinctively, No Bling play different songs and have a different set-up in different shows. The only way to appreciate No Bling’s music is by attending their gigs, and this is why they put so much effort into it. For the band, music is an experience. Their songs are all characterised by intensity, social political topics and a great deal of “fire” Music and Video Production Jon Mallia quietly and passionately writes the lyrics to No Bling’s musical compositions, and perhaps a rhythm or tune for the chorus. After, the group synchronises this with the best composition they can produce. Another inspirational contributor to the musical arrangements is youngest group member IzZghir. whose unique interest in classical music, jazz and heavy metal make him “a driving force” within the band, Jon adds.

Rehearsals tend to be very demanding for the group members, considering they are also the organisers of their own live performances, and a concert can sometimes include more than twenty-four musicians at one go. For their last gig, Jon, Benji and Iz-Zghir, used to meet every afternoon. “These are the nucleus of the band, in the rhythmic sense. That section of a hip hop firm needs to be tight as, well – you get the picture”, Jon claims. The full band used to meet once a week, and these included a choir and musicians who played traditional instruments like iz-zaqq and iz-zummara. When it comes to the production of the music video Lucija and Samwel, it took the band three months of daily hard work which could last up to eleven hours. Take 2 produced the video; with Justin Farrugia in the director’s chair, Isaac il-kelb (Jon’s Hypeman) on camera, Abigail Mallia as editor, while Lilla and Vangelle took care of the production work. Jon claims that “this was the most demanding project yet – imagine a small crew having to direct about 100 extras”. Fame and Challenges Their biggest challenge is to “keep up and continue to be relevant”. They are religiously attached to the belief of staying true to their root, and not “getting lost” in the meantime. For them it’s “all about the music,” Iz-Zghir hastens to add. No Bling Would Like to Thank Take 2, 6th Simfoni, their families and, of course, their fans! More No Bling Updates Website: http://www.noblingmalta.com Become a Fan of their Facebook Page


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insiteronline.com 25

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28 P’OUT!  •  Special Edition 2010

ingear

Majestic Mini Minor

I

while the powers that be might still want us to believe that public transport is the way to go, students, being the relatively wised-up bunch they always were, have most times opted for a private vehicle of their own. in the insiter’s monthly ingear column, we shall be taking a look at a number of cars which, by some virtue, happen to be perrenial classics in the world of student mobility. This month: the Mini Minor. By Christopher spiteri.

n 1959, a car changed the face of motoring. The Ferrari? No. The Lamborghini? Nope. The Mini Minor? You’d better believe it. Just 3m long, it was the most efficient and effective use of road space ever seen. Wait a minute, isn’t it the car owned by a certain Mr Bean? Sure, but it was voted the second most influential car of the 20th Century – not bad for a likeable buffoon. The Mini was manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000. The BMC included Austin and Morris, and marketed the Mini under both - to keep the names before the public (or ‘in the public eye’?) – so the Mini Minor is not to be confused with the Morris Minor. The original is considered an icon of the 1960s – the apparent miracle of Sir Alec Issigonis’s design was to create a frontwheel drive, two-door, four-seat economy saloon that sacrificed nothing to exact steering, superb handling and super-agile response (yes, I’m still talking about the Mini). The car was a social revolution as much as anything. The Mini Cooper (essentially the sporty version of the Mini Minor) was developed in 1961, and was the car of Britain’s elite. The manic screeching of tyres at night is said to have only been tamed when a local policeman got his own Mini Cooper to give chase. So why would an average uom student want to buy a Mini Minor? Well, its features are actually much more impressive than you’d expect. It was designed to be the ultimate miniature car, and as such is ideal for parking. The car is affordable, can go quite fast when it wants to (over 200km/h), and has a remarkable fuel economy (488 miles per tank). In other words, Photography Keith Tedesco Styling Claire Galea Stefan Vella MAKE-UP ARTIST Ariana Camilleri Model alberta jade cassi

one needs 489 tanks to go from the earth to the moon in a Mini. However, mankind has not yet developed the technology for cars to go to the moon...yet. For all its positive attributes, there are certain hitches that need to be considered. It is a car with low suspension. It is thus suitable for smooth roads, albeit this is Malta we’re talking about. Therefore, if your name happens to be Goliath, steer clear from this car. This aforementioned quality makes the sight of a Mini Minor navigating the Msida floods a sight to behold, although it is not something I would recommend trying out. If you’re out to impress the ladies, I suggest looking elsewhere – unless the lady in question is an avid UK vintage car fan (which is unlikely to be the case). Looking to have some naughty fun with your boyfriend/ girlfriend in a car? Don’t even think about doing so in a Mini. Furthermore, if you’re seeking to tune up your beloved car, the build and the factory customisation means that additions such as spoilers and body kits will look ridiculous and quite hilarious on a Mini Minor. This means that it is not ideal for a scenario such as: “Tlaqna għal Ħal Far man!” Friends of mine who own Mini Minors point out that customised Minis were stars in films such as The Italian Job, A Shot In The Dark, and The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. In addition, owners included Steve McQueen, Enzo Ferrari, Marianne Faithfull, all four Beatles, and Peter Sellers (whose Mini had wicker side-panels designed by the Rolls-Royce coach builder, Hooper). So the Mini Minor, despite its limitations and obvious size restrictions, is by no means a car to overlook.

MODEL: Mini Minor (1959) SAFETY FEATURES: “Crash Sensor System” STUDENT AFFORDABILITY: FUEL ECONOMY: TOP SPEED: BACKSEAT FUN: CHICK SWOON FACTOR™:

OVERALL RATING:


instyle

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The Nitpicker incognito Tehran Calling How good to be back. I had almost conveniently forgotten about this column had the Editor not rang me up recently while I was busy frolicking and making a mess of myself in a stubbornly sticky concoction of sand and seaweed—a poor student’s mud bath. There I was, a bare-chested Peter Parker of sorts on a secluded beach known best for exposed stars and prying oldies, killing time reading Intelligent Life and splashing sun cream where the sun shouldn’t shine. But now that The Insiter (and public decency)’s calling, pray tell it’s time to don my superhero costume again lest anyone gets their knickers in a twist. I’d much rather spend my holidays emptying coconuts in Ayia Napa as planned rather than parading up and down the streets of Iran on a state-paid visit. For Iran seems to be the new Marrakesh or Thailand among the politicos lately and I like my beard smooth and shaven. eSIMS: The Sands of Time News that exam results are out spreads quickly like crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s rather sad that while BP is trying to get rid of millions of gushing gallons per day, our very own eSIMS servers could desperately do with a drop or two come results time. IT Services (and their equally-illustrious previous incarnation as CSC) have this dubious honour of still failing miserably at surviving the barrage of hits after five whole years since eSIMS’s inception. At least they’re consistent, but we sure hope BP won’t be looking their way for industry best practices. And at the risk of slowing down the loading times of Miniclip.com on the uom network throughout the rest of the year, might I suggest the geeks-in-charge cut down on the server infrastructure and hire additional resources only during crunch time. (Or at least steal Twitter’s adorable Fail Whale to amuse the fuming, if they so insist on the services remaining unavailable at peak times.)

It won’t be long before the eSIMS servers rise like a phoenix from the ashes (or an oil-soaked pelican from the Gulf), I’m sure, but at this rate, even the notoriously lethargic Boiler No. 7’s set to eclipse eSIMS on the performance-over-time graph. Loan, Sack, and Back it The perversity of the Universe tends towards a maximum, some wise-ass once cracked. And there’s something quite perverse about the timing of issues that manage to hit a raw nerve with an otherwise stoic—no, even doped, like true working class hero dilettantes—student population in Malta. It all tends to happen just when the proverbial shit would have already hit the fan (and given the traditional Spanish Tomatina food fight a run for its pulp) and sent students scavenging for missing lecture notes of that elusive 8AM 10-ECTS lecture. Last year it was the uom’s academic staff throwing a hissy and going all drama queens on us in the run-up to the January exams. This year, the EU got suspicious of Malta’s green fingers in managing the Lifelong Learning Programme funds and, in a fit of questionable bravado, decided it would be opportune to just suspend Malta’s funding altogether. Words uttered by prospective Maltese Erasmus students (caught unawares tricking themselves with another game of Erasmus carrot and stick while studying for their end-of-years) should best be left unwritten, needless to say. Parliamentarians were handed a petition; scapegoats done and dusted; funding still suspended. The Government heroically upped the ante and declared it will be chipping in “a grant of €300 per month for a duration of maximum 4 months” per participant. Tip of the hat for not ruining Maltese students’ chances to experience lush blond locks and Swedish beach balls, alright, but it seems a bit of a Pyrrhic victory, especially after you’ve been told off the gravy train. Thankfully, the soothing sound of crushed waves and the smell of sand-filled chips are a fittingly convincing red herring for even the most discerning of student activists among us. And thus we shall forget all about this one too, to the merriment of that familiar crackling sound that piles upon piles of lecture notes make when they’re engorged in flames by the sea. Piña colada. Now.

illustration camille felice


iniceland

30 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

Reykjavík calling Coming from a micro-state, Claire Bonello writes about her intercultural and educational experience in the small state of Iceland.

A

fter embracing my inner International Relations geek and writing a short essay for a competition on the security of small states, I was fortunate enough to nab one of two spots for Maltese students at a course on Small States and Security at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, Iceland, for two wonderful weeks. In transit Since it was the first time I was properly travelling alone, I was looking forward to the sense of freedom and independence I would have. Before long, I was weaving in and out of the shops I wanted to visit and stopping only when I wanted a toilet break. No standing around for others while they grabbed a coffee or tied their shoelaces or whatnot. I did however miss having a travel buddy by my side to take pictures of me and join me while I squealed at the “pretty, white glaciers” and the abundance of blonde people. On my way back home, I stopped over in the Netherlands and went to a city called Leiden where I met a Dutch friend. My Dutch afternoon was stupendous: lunch on a boat in a canal, orange flags everywhere, a bike ride, a short shopping spree at H&M, and the purchase of some yummy stroopwafels. Intellectual stimulation The course in Iceland was truly an intensive one, with up to 5 hours a day of lectures, alongside other intellectually taxing activities. Moreover, the course was not a simple lectures-only sort of thing: we had crisis simulation games and diplomatic scenarios which involved much participation and kept us on our toes. We were taught by top-notch professors from the UK, the US, Sweden, Ireland, Lithuania, Switzerland, Iceland itself, and even the ever-entertaining and exceptionally knowledgeable Maltese Professor Godfrey Baldacchino. I learned all about the Cod Wars, neutrality, all forms of security, and anything and everything about small states. We visited the Icelandic Parliament – the “Alþingi” – and had a discussion with a Member of Parliament about quite a few sensitive issues (read: Iceland and fisheries). We also got to listen to inside

information about Iceland’s EU application from chief negotiators from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Another highlight of the trip was meeting the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. A lovely man; a former political scientist, in fact. Apart from the very intriguing lectures, activities and field trips, we also had to be assessed for our 8ECTS. This involved a 3-hour exam at the end and an academic journal which we had to compile after each class. The University of Iceland was the perfect haven for working on my journal and soaking in all the course’s information: computer labs open around the clock, a pristinely clean canteen with heavenly food, and free printing facilities(!). Culinary delights In Iceland, I spent two whole weeks eating the most excellent fresh fish and some very unethical dishes, including whale meat (which was similar to beef, and cooked to perfection) and puffin (my new favourite meat). This unethical whaleand puffin-eating took place only a few hours after I had been whale- and puffin-watching. There was certainly a new meaning to the phrase “watch what you eat”. I also sampled some shark and dried fish at a market, which I found to be rather unpleasant to the palate. All the fish and seafood I tasted were heavenly, such as proper tiny-fishing-village fish soup, lobster soup, Icelandic cod, and sushi. An odd side of Icelandic cuisine is a hotdog stand situated by Reykjavík harbour, which owes its fame to being the “best hotdogs” in Iceland and even lists Bill Clinton as one of its clients. I managed to eat around five of these babies in the course of the two weeks, and think they are utterly delicious. Crunchy fried onions and special sauce seem to be the magical touches. Cultural exchanges and highlights When you’ve got a hotchpotch of nationalities thrown together for two weeks, a little phenomenon


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called “cultural exchange” takes place. This involved drinking neat Lithuanian vodka, listening to Scandinavian sagas (or “Wonderful Viking Tales” as I liked to call them), and learning all about Slovakian dance companies. I watched countless World Cup games with nationals of most of the European teams which were playing seated right next to me, and lamented some Irish hurling team’s loss at a game. I was also fully immersed in the Icelandic way of life, what with all the Icelandic cuisine I was eating and the fact that I learned how to say “Cheers” (Skál) and “thank you” (takk) in Icelandic. As expected, during the trip I made friends with a very quirky, pleasant lot. For instance, I met the loveliest, smartest and most fascinating Swedish girl called Maja, who shares my love for The Economist, quaint little cafés and making wacky facial expressions when a camera is pointed at you. I thoroughly enjoyed numerous nights out with my new friends; most especially a free open-air concert next to the Pond, where I was lucky enough to have Damien Rice serenade me (well, me along with hundreds of others and anyone willing to watch on the web via live streaming). The moral of my story is: go abroad. Experiences like these are there for the taking. Through this scholarship, I had all of my tuition, flights, accommodation and some meals completely paid for through Erasmus (from the University of Iceland’s perspective, not the Maltese one, naturally), and the Centre of Small State Studies at the University of Iceland. Added to that, I got to experience one of the most gorgeous places in the world. Small (states) can be beautiful. Volcanic Ash The notorious volcano that disrupted countless flights across Europe, is Eyjafjallajökull (which I finally learned to pronounce properly – although it took me a couple of days.) (Hint: the “ll” sounds like a “tl”.) The strange thing was that they were actually selling the volcanic ash – everywhere! – and for exorbitantly different prices (the cheapest possible price was around 6 Euros). The money goes to paying for the rescuing of people, for the massive clean-up efforts, and to compensate farmers who lost valuable time and money due to the disruption. Then again, a few of my classmates visited the site close to Eyjafjallajökull and remarked that the ash was everywhere; bringing home (free) bags of it, in fact.


32 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

Capital: Language: Currency: Area: Population: Highest Point: Latest Eruption:

Top things to see and do in Iceland • Visit the Blue Lagoon. This is a geothermal spa where you can lounge around in milky water heated (by lava) at 40°C and smear silica mud on your face. A very relaxing experience (which I had to do twice). • Go up to the top of the Hallgrimskirkja church, the tallest building in Iceland, for a fantastic view of Reykjavík and beyond. • Shop for woollen goods. They can be quite expensive from the tourist shops, but heading down to the weekly flea market by the harbour each Saturday will do the trick. I both my own lopapeysa for nearly half what I would have paid at the high street, and I got to meet the lovely old Icelandic lady who knitted my jumper herself. • See the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Reykjavík – being a country with only 2% of the population being Catholic, their cathedral is worth a little visit. I heard mass in Icelandic and Latin, which was a surreal yet oddly spiritual experience. • Spend an evening strolling by the Tjörnin (the Pond) and plop on a bench for a couple of hours drinking beer and chatting. That’s what I did with the other Maltese person, Joseph, who was there, and we had an exquisite evening of conversation, beer and even a spot of impromptu tangodancing. • Visit the National Museum (it’s free on Wednesdays). They have very well-put-together exhibits and the highlight of the building was a dressing-up room where I got to be both a

Reykjavík Icelandic Icelandic króna (ISK) 103,001 km2 317,593 2,119m Eyjafjallajökull

Viking (complete with sword) and a Bishop (complete with funny hat). • Relish the all-day-and-night-long daylight. It never, ever gets dark in Iceland in June-July, and therefore... • ...thoroughly enjoy the pulsing nightlife in Reykjavík! This starts properly at 1am and keeps on going for quite a while. Pop from one cosy club-cum-bar to another with ease, although be wary because the alcohol is pretty costly at such places (so be sure to befriend some Icelanders who will treat you to pre-party drinks at their place, or purchase and consume alcohol before hitting the clubs). • Go hiking in the mountains. We trekked for over 6km, through slippery mud paths and steep stretches of loose rocks, to catch a glimpse of the highest waterfall in Iceland, Glymur. Definitely worth it. Be sure to look up every few minutes during a hike to fully take in the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings. • Rent a car. You must. Icelandic drivers would not hurt a fly and the roads are mostly decent (unless you head into the mountainous and volcanic regions which require 4X4s and a confident soul). But discovering Iceland by car is definitely the way to do it. I cannot wait to visit again and go on long endless road trips around this magnificent country. •Behold geological phenomena and other assorted natural wonders. On my short trips around the country, I managed to see spouting geysirs, extremely loud geothermal powerplants, eerie lava fields, and majestic waterfalls. Iceland is simply Amazing.


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Letters to the editor

Dear Editor, Following President George Abela’s welcome speech to the Pope, I would like to congratulate you for believing in the intertwining of the Maltese government with the church, by not removing the mention of Roman Catholicism as the religion of Malta from the constitution and having laws which are influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholicism is an opinion which is shared by the majority, and in a democracy it is only the majority that matter. Not to mention that it is also part of our culture and identity and hence it is important that it stays in the constitution, regardless of how valid the arguments of the insignificant secular minority are. I am concerned however, about the fact that religion is only one opinion of the majority and only one aspect of our identity. It is clear that there are other opinions which deserve a mention in the constitution and I would like to highlight two of them in this letter. The first opinion I think should be mentioned is that of politics. In Malta we have one of the highest turnouts of voters in the world, with a minimum of 93% of the country going out to vote. It is clear that politics is at the heart of the Maltese and that it is an identity of our country. Another opinion worth mentioning is that of football. I’m sure you’d agree that the majority of Maltese people support a football team and this fact alone is enough to say that football is the official sport of Malta.

I urge parliament to amend the constitution to reflect these facts by mentioning them in it and to make the vilification of politics and football a crime, as is currently the vilification of the Roman Catholic Church. Should anyone go to carnival dressed in a football gear or a party’s shirt, they should be arrested immediately. Children should be taught about politics and football in government schools and, along with a crucifix, emblems of PN and PL and emblems of the Italian and English football teams should be placed in each class room, so that children are raised in a religious, political and football-fevered environment, specifically those of the majority. Before class begins, after praying Roman Catholic prayers, pupils should be directed by teachers to sing PN and PL anthems and to hope that Italy or England win the next world cup. I therefore press the matter for you to consider these serious issues which are relevant to government, and are definitely not to be left in the hands of the people alone. It is the government’s job to ensure that the Maltese stereotype that we are religious, politically partisan, football-fevered people is forcefully respected and promoted among the citizens and this should also be reflected in our laws.

Concerned Citizen, Marc Tanti

illustration jonny


The Job Chain Success Part 2: The Curriculum Vitæ (CV) Three important steps stand between the application phase and the job placement. The covering letter, the Curriculum Vitæ (CV) and the job interview reflect these three steps. In this article we will be discussing the CV. What is a Curriculum Vitæ? Translated to English, Curriculum Vitæ, a Latin term, stands for “a running life”; the CV is in fact an overview of someone’s career. It can be described as a list of details about a person’s working experience and educational background. The CV is used by interviewers in the shortlisting exercise. From the CV, the interviewer will extract the needs and wants related to a particular position. Therefore, together with the covering letter, the CV is the key to obtaining an interview. The Content The CV should be concise; a ten page CV would not encourage the employer to read it. You should include all of the following content in a maximum of two pages: Personal Details – include your full name,

address, e-mail address, contact number, nationality, date of birth and whether you possess a driving licence or not. Personal Mission – this will show the employers that you are focused and determined to pursue a career in the post they are offering. Qualifications – list your qualifications in a chronological order (most recent first). Work Experience – list your work experiences in a chronological order as noted above.

The Technicalities -Proof read your CV before sending it, avoid grammatical and spelling mistakes. -Be sincere. -Utilise a clean, reader friendly layout which is well spaced and legible. -Use conservative fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. -Use the same high quality paper used for printing your Covering Letter.

Interests – describe your extracurricular activities and interests e.g. sports, student organisations and hobbies.

Conclusion The CV plays an important role in your job search as it will lead you to be short-listed for an interview. Always be concise and to the point; remember that interviewers read tens of CVs per job application. Always use your CV to promote your career profile. The third and final part of this article we shall discuss in detail the Do’s and Don’ts during an interview.

References – Employers may wish to contact these people before offering you employment, therefore provide the contact details of people who may give a positive representation of yourself.

MISCO promotes graduate recruitment – feel free to contact us for tips on how to optimise your job searching skills. For more information contact us on graduates@miscomalta.com or on 22054505.

Skills - mention skills you possess such as computing skills, interpersonal skills and languages.


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By Jonathan Mifsud

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’d like to think that we are slowly drifting away from the manufacturing society which was brought forward with the industrial revolution, and that our cities have evolved from being mass-production oriented to becoming more intellectually inclined. The strategy in most developed countries - especially with the rise of China as well as the rest of Asia into the world markets - lies in offering cheap mass products, that even if Europeans wanted to compete, their wage and welfare structure would never stand a chance on the basis of pricing. This has led Malta, as well as the rest of the EU, to look forward to building an economy based on products which are of a higher value. The government is trying to promote the best education systems, in order to fulfill this, especially with vision 2015. The more students furthering their education, the more powerful Malta will be. As undergraduates and post-graduates, we are tomorrow’s workforce and the more eqiupped with resources and skilled we are in our fields, the more investment we are likely to attract to our tiny island. Innovation and entrepreneurship are two important factors which push the economy forward. The more creative and innovative fresh graduates are, the higher are the possiblities of having a country producing higher valued goods. The creativity and enterpreunerial skills of Mark Zuckerberg who was once your “average” student turned him into one of the youngest billionaires of all time. Creativity belongs to everyone, if they know how to use it. Dr Edward De Bono, came up with the concept of “lateral thinking” and the famous “thinking hats” which help one maximise her/his potential. Creativity is something that can be taught. At the uom, the Dr De Bono Institute offers a Masters course as well as optional credits to students pertaining to enhancing one’s creativity. An exciting subsidiary area of studies is being offered: Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Lecturer Leonie Baldachhino clearly outlines what the course entails. “The words creativity and innovation are often used interchangeably but there are distinct differences between the two. Creativity is about developing thinking skills that allow you to come up with new ideas. Innovation converts these into new value. Entrepreneurship involves the ability to recognize new opportunities and the willingness to take risks in an unpredictable scenario.” One can notice that the course is in itself intended to help the government in its vision for 2015 and hopefully beyond, although it still lacks the promotion it deserves. Whenever I attend a meeting related to my Ict course I always hear speakers mention “creativity” and “innovation”, but few of them point out that there is an actual course which is intended to encourage

thinking out of the box and not merely in a logical manner. One is not necessarily required to follow a course in Ict in order to enroll for a course offered by the De Bono Institute. “The topics to be covered as part of this secondary area of studies, offered by the Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking, include Thinking out of the Box – A Toolkit for Idea Generation; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Design and Innovation; Psychology of Creativity; and Creativity, Innovation and Digital Technologies. “ Melanie Aquilina is one of the first five students who enrolled in this subsidiary course, and shares her insights to what the institute has to offer, should one decide to embark on this three-year journey, “When choosing my undergraduate course at University, I wanted to delve into a study area which comprised not only of technical and theoretical material, but one which could possibly provide me with a competitive edge. Combining Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAI) with Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) offered by The Edward de Bono Institute, proved to be exactly what I was looking for. Living in a fast-paced world, one cannot just sit and wait for the bulb to light up above one’s head. If one wants to have an overall competitive edge in this environment, ideas need to be generated continuously and opportunities have to be grasped when the windows are still wide open. This and much more, is exactly what these courses are aimed at achieving…”

website: www.um.edu.mt/create Email: instituteofthinking@um.edu.mt Tel. 2132 3981; 2340 2434

inspire

You can leave your thinking hat on


36 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

Stuff white people like If you’re utterly bored and want to make something of yourself, we’ve got the answer for you right here: create a blog. Elizabeth Galea invites you to share her intrigue in Christian Lander’s blog where he keeps track of all that makes a white person white.

I

f you find yourself trapped in the middle of the woods without electricity, running water, or a car, you would likely describe that situation as a ‘nightmare’ or ‘a worst case scenario like after a plane crash or something.’ White people refer to it as ‘camping’. This particular brand of white people, to whom Ph. D. dropout and internet copywriter Christian Lander dedicates an entire blog, is the educated, affluent, left-leaning and indie-loving kind. In the blog, which he started just for fun after an instant messaging conversation with a Filipino friend, Lander gently pokes fun at such people, among whom he numbers himself, describing himself as “a self-aware, left-wing person who’s not afraid to recognise the selfishness and contradictions that come on the left.” He does this by posting his entries in the shape of a list, a definitive guide to what ‘white people’ like. In the first week, the blog attracted 200 viewers a day. In the second week it attracted 600 daily viewers and by the third week it was receiving 4,000 hits a day. After two months, the blog was getting an average of 300,000 daily hits. The blog is such an entertaining read partly due to the way it is written as a foolproof, step-by-step guide to dealing with ‘white’ people and making ‘white’ friends. In post 41, ‘Indie Music’, Lander solemnly informs us that “if you want to understand white people, you need to understand indie music.” However, Lander continues, knowing that ‘white’ people like something is not enough. One has to know how and when to use this knowledge, and this could be a slippery slope. In the post about indie music, Lander warns the reader against overlooking certain essential points, for instance the fact that “if you mention a band you like and the other person has heard of them, you lose. They own you. It is essential that you like the most obscure music possible.” In post number 40, he tells us that “Apple products tell the world you are creative and unique. They are an exclusive product line only used by every white college student, designer, writer, English teacher, and hipster on the planet.”

Lander manages to pinpoint the kind of attitudes and taste which one has come to expect from supposedly individual, intelligent, educated ‘white’ people. Even though the site was initially geared towards portraying Americans, you will find that a lot of people in your circle of acquaintances would fit the description. Yet, even if at first you are tempted to start feeling good about yourself because you had previously noticed the clichés Lander mentions, after a while you start to see yourself being painted in the posts, and that, ironically, makes the blog even funnier, and makes you even more eager to make all your friends read it. (In true ‘white person’ fashion, you will own them because you knew of the site before they did.) Lander attempts to leave no stone unturned, uncovering the suspect motives that lie behind even the most well-intentioned actions. In the 18th post he writes, “An interesting fact about white people is that they firmly believe that all of the world’s problems can be solved through ‘awareness’.” In fact, Lander notes, missing an opportunity to express your outrage at another person’s political incorrectness and to lecture that same person is “social death”. He attributes ‘white people’’s conversations about classical music to the fact that “white people see little to no value in enjoying classical music without recognition from other white people”, while their purchase of moleskine® notebooks is fuelled by the belief that they are creative and by the need to imitate old writers and artists. His ‘Full List of Stuff White People Like’ includes anything ranging from film festivals, liberal arts degrees, grammar and Ray-Ban wayfarers to writers’ workshops, self-aware hip hop references, and standing still at concerts. However, even though Lander mocks, he does so gently rather than contemptuously, in the full knowledge that he is dealing with sweeping generalisations. The picture he ends up painting is that of people who want to feel good and be liked, albeit a little misguidedly and awkwardly. Lander definitely identifies with these misguided souls, and the entries he posts have undertones of affection. With many laughs and potentially forward-able posts, Lander manages to not only entertain but to keep any soaring self-assurance and pretention firmly in check. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.


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Pick of the month: Book By ElizabetH Galea

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aterland is told in the form of a series of lessons given by history teacher Tom Crick to his pupils, after he discovers that his subject is going to be squeezed out of the curriculum because of lack of ‘practical relevance to today’s real world’. For this reason, Tom starts to deviate from the syllabus to tell them the history that feels ‘relevant’ to him: the economic and social history of the Fens and the personal history of his own teenage years, and the way the two are inextricably connected. The novel’s narration masterfully maps out the brooding, monotonous fenland as ‘a landscape, which of all landscapes, most approximated to Nothing’. While it links Tom’s private history to the history of the region where

he lived, it avoids facile connections. Crick manages to find recurring patterns in history; however, any kind of explanation for these patterns is far away. The entire novel reads as Crick’s attempt to come to terms with the story of his own life, and the part he played in other people’s lives. In this sense, the novel itself is an instance of what Crick believes characterises the study of history: the question, “why?” Just like any student of history, however, it is unclear whether Crick will ever discover why, and whether this discovery would improve anything at all. Waterland might prove just a little bit slow at first, but it is worth the patience, for it unravels into a truly beautiful novel.

Book By Elizabeth Galea

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As the reader starts to perceive the child’s reality as it is filtered through his consciousness, the sense of the imminent shattering of Paddy’s world starts seeping through his more ordinary concerns, such as fights, games and friends. It becomes increasingly clearer that his parents’ marriage is about to break down, and this seems to be pushing little Paddy forcefully towards adulthood. While the novel does meander a little bit too much at times, it works brilliantly as a touching evocation of childhood as well as a painful lament for its death. Despite its non-linear progression, the development of the sense of the impending devastation of a child’s world is impressive, and will stay with the reader long after the novel ends.

addy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, written by Irish author Roddy Doyle, was the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 1993. Last year it was published in a new edition as part of a series of Booker Prize winners published by Vintage. In the novel the reader experiences the life of an Irish child living on a housing estate in Dublin in the 1960s. The novel is narrated by the child himself, who conveys his impressions in a series of non-linear episodes and observations. Despite inevitable echoes of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Doyle’s voice is distinctly his own. Paddy tells us about his brother and what it feels like to be so close to him and yet so distant. He describes the violence and bizarre dialogue he comes across among fellow schoolboys, all set against the backdrop of his native city.


38 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

insights

A year later... B Isabel Micallef is currently reading for a degree in B. Communications and Philosophy, and was last year’s Sec-Gen with Insite

eing actively involved in a student organization can really make a difference to one’s student life, or so I have come to realise after two years of being a member of Insite. Nevertheless, working in a student organization can leave scars but in the end, it is definitely the better memories which make the whole experience worth it. Possibly, the beauty of being involved in a student organization is that it moulds one’s student’s lifestyle in exciting ways. To begin with, one grows into a social butterfly through meeting new and different people, learning how to work with them within a team environment, and even getting to socialise with them on a less ‘professional’ level, in the many events that are organised throughout the year. It occurs to me that one of the many reasons that encourage students to join an organization might be in order to get a sense of belonging. Within our ‘mini society’ at the uom, many might feel lost amongst the ten thousand or so diverse students, not including the foreign students that hover around campus. A student organisation can guarantee one having a group of people that s/he can share common interests and similar goals with - helping in making these feelings bearable, because of the unity that an organisation creates. On the other hand, other students may seem to aim towards achieving something within this “mini-society” and beyond, when looking to enroll in an organisation. Sometimes, even the smallest achievement, such as students asking about the organisation’s work can leave a feeling of pride and satisfaction. One can only understand the rewarding feeling experienced upon having a freshly printed copy of The Insiter in your hands after being part of its production process. Furthermore, many interpersonal skills are learnt from the different circumstances that occur in an organization, such as the inevitable need for problem solving, planning and communicating with other members. All these skills improve one’s student life and will also be at hand for future work experience and in the “larger society.” However, the experience in a student organisation will

never be lacking in stress, responsibility and commitment. Three factors that can seem hard to chew but can also keep the organisation moving forward. In fact, from personal experience and also from looking at what other student organisations have gone through, it appears that manpower is not the be all and end all of an organisation’s success. Needless to say, it is these three factors that can make or break an organisation, as one must always keep in mind that the well-being of the organization is at stake. As a matter of fact, a wise friend once told me that personal conflicts should never get in the way of the student organisation. Nonetheless, it is important to bear in mind that a student organisation ultimately consists of students working on a voluntary basis in their free time. Therefore, student-related work should always be considered as the highest priority, and it should never be overridden by work pertaining to that of the organisation. This requires maintaining a good balance between the two which can at times be tricky, yet achievable with proper time management. It is unfortunate that many consider student life to solely mean studying, going to lectures and maybe spending time in the quad. The inability to look beyond this aspect of student life has led to the suffering of student organizations, as a sense of apathy may overshadow the experience of being more proactively involved within student life. This issue is common discourse among student organizations, and many attempts have been made in order to try and understand why there is a lack of interest on the part of students. Some might resort to the general excuse of being too busy with assignments and studying, others may suggest that students are conforming to a passive way of life, leading to some students not even knowing what ksu is. What I am saying is that wherever the wind blows, student organisations should make it a point to include the encouraging of students to enroll in student involvement as a milestone in their plan of action. A student’s life is an enriching experience. However, adding a student organisation to one’s activities gives you an experience of a lifetime.


insiteronline.com 39

illustration yentl spiteri

It’s Time! Join us Send us an email on talents@insiteronline.com


40 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

funpage wordsearch Iceland Microsoft Musical No Bling Paul Referee World Cup Gossip Engineering Mini

udokuPuzzles.com sudoku

8 5 1

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inthegame

World Cup Fever


inthegame

42 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

Wave your notes

Would students actually sacrifice watching their favourite team’s attempt at winning the World Cup in order to study? Martin Calleja-Urry speaks of this summer’s football fever clash with our end-of exam period.

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s the army of fans flock towards the stadia in South Africa, all around the world viewers can be seen glued to their television screens, eagerly anticipating the moment when the excitement begins. As the referee blows the whistle, a cacophony of “vuvuzelas” can be heard echoing around the stadium. World Cup fever has officially reached pandemic status, and Malta is no different. Mini-flags attached to car windows, colourful national team shirts seen in the streets and giant projector screens dotted around the island can only signify one thing. Now that the mighty tournament has resumed after four long years of waiting, zealous Maltese students are faced with a dilemma akin to no other. Should I watch closely as Argentinian international Lionel Messi glides past a seemingly rock solid defence, or should I build a study plan, and hit the books to get that grade I always deserved. As responsible adults, we should resist the temptation presented by salty snacks and golden pints found in our local pubs and settle for a nice healthy dose of textbook. However, clearly the youth are outraged at the overlapping of the events. While our older generations may have taken to the streets to protest this atrocity, students of the technological age have responded in a peaceful, yet predictable manner. The Facebook group “Exams during the World Cup should be

illustration iella

illegal” highlights the plight of the individual who once unsuccessfully tried to balance education with entertainment. One may argue that only avid supporters would take time out of their study plan to watch a World Cup match, however this does not paint a realistic picture. The sheer beauty of the tournament lies in its ability to draw in crowds of people that couldn’t define the term ‘offside’ if their lives depended on it. People from all four corners of the globe, regardless of gender, age or race, will be tempted out of their daily routines. It is a time when our spirit, morals and determination should surpass any notion of distraction. To have even made it this far up the education ladder, it is clear that we must have done something right. Nowadays in this fast-paced society a student must not only be equipped with the intellectual expertise, but must also be focused, and well aware of how to manage his/her own life. Therefore, with a little careful consideration and a few early nights we can all enjoy the world’s most viewed sports tournament. Yes, our mettle will be tested, and many of us will fall prey to the football frenzy. For those less fortunate enthusiasts, there is no cure for the World Cup sickness. The final barrage of vuvuzelas to be sounded will serve as an appropriate funeral song once a realization is made that hope is long gone. Could I have changed those F’s into A’s with a little more effort and a little less ‘carcading’? On a positive note, it will soon be possible to purchase a nifty World Cup DVD highlighting the memorable moments of the tournament, for those who took the high road. Some skeptics question as to why a man in shorts is paid extraordinary amounts of money week-in week-out to kick a circular object around for ninety minutes. However, its entertainment value cannot be overlooked when the combined viewership of all the World Cup games is estimated at 2.2 Billion. While it is hard to believe that the zombie-like fans sitting in front of a 50 inch plasma screen are actually members of society, once that final whistle blows it’s back to reality. The quick passing and exciting


goals may temporarily lull us into a false state of contentment, but our responsibilities will be knocking at the front door soon enough. Just like countless managers have done in the past, many of us must rethink our strategies at the metaphorical half time and return stronger than before. As University students, we should let nothing and nobody get in the way of our futures, not even an event of this magnitude. Will it affect our results? Possibly. Should it affect our results? Definitely not.

Start of Exams:

27th May

Start of World Cup:

11th June

Group Stages Round 2: 16th June Group Stages Round 3: 22nd June End of Exams:

26th June

Last 16:

26th June

Quarter Finals:

2nd July

Semi Finals:

6th July

Third Place:

10th July

Final: 11th July


Inthegame

44 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

The twenty third man There is much more to a B.Sc Biology and Chemistry student than field-work and a couple of titrations. When not at University, Andrew James Sammut is a Second-Division Referee. He talks to the Insiter about his experience as the impartial man on the pitch.

In the Beginning For the Sammut family, football is about more than just a ball. Andrew James Sammut and his two brothers are all involved in the sport, however in different ways. The youngest of the Sammut siblings plays for the local Hibernians team, while the eldest coaches Gudja United’s under 10s. Andrew is involved through a more authoritative role, as an mfa second division referee. “It was my eldest brother who introduced me to an advert in the newspaper to apply for the course,” he says. Andrew never actually chose to become a football referee as it was never really one of his main ambitions. “I really wanted to be a player, until I realised that I could only make it as far as the substitute bench, and this is Gudja Utd. we’re talking about!” he chuckles. Andrew always craved to be on the pitch and refereeing has guaranteed him the twenty third place on the field. “Little did I know that I would be competent enough to take charge of the game after I successfully completed a course for Trainee Referees.” Role of Referee As witnessed recently in the World Cup, supporters gathered from all across the globe in order to witness their very own (or favourite) nation in action – I doubt anyone ever really notices a referee on the pitch except when he makes a mistake, let alone supports him. One might very easily claim that a referee is just that “man in the middle” or even “the boring guy in the game” – however, Andrew asserts the opposite. “There exists an art in refereeing which the players, specta-

tors and coaches are not aware of! The artistic element in this profession is in the referee’s capacity of sensing infringements by the players that actually affect the game and are actually worth whistling for. Therefore, the referee is continuously taking decisions all throughout the game.” For the naive onlooker, a referee might simply seem to be earning a living for running around in tight shorts. However, Andrew explains that even deciding that there will be ‘no free kick’ is a choice that has to be made sharply. “It is extremely important to remain focused throughout the whole 90 minutes; you cannot give in to the players. It is very easy to become influenced by the players or supporters and that is why refereeing is in itself a discipline.” No matter how neutral a referee strives to be, he is always subject to the influence of many factors on the pitch. “The factors I refer to are those pertaining to the general emotion of the crowd, the more favoured team to win and perhaps also those individuals on the pitch who sometimes try to put that bit of extra pressure on a referee.” Andrew goes on to explain that an awareness of such factors helps a referee grapple with certain decisions more fairly. “A wrong decision can affect you throughout the whole match, leading to more wrong decisions due to a lack of concentration. Only experience will help you eliminate these feelings.” This leads me to ask about the obvious, or not so obvious if you’re a Uruguayan referee, goal that Frank Lampard scored in the game against Germany in South Africa 2010. “Referees’ mistakes seem to be part of every international competition,” Andrew sighs. Errors would only be eliminated if there were to be


insiteronline.com 45

photographs stephen gatt

a perfect referee, but the attempt to find a perfect referee would be just as futile as trying to empty a river. Amidst the whole controversy I suggest goal-line technology and his thoughts on the subject, to which he replies, “if introducing technology means reducing the chances of errors by referees in vital decisions, then why not?” Andrew considers it very unfair that a team should lose a match by one goal resulting from a genuine error by one of the officials and on the other hand, introducing technology would reduce the pressures endured by referees during important matches. And, what about corruption in Maltese football? “The only thing I’m sure about is that the mfa takes such allegations extremely seriously,” Andrew strongly asserts when I ask whether or not he was ever faced with anything to do with this act of sheer dishonesty. Instead, I quickly divert to a lighter aspect of his enriching career and ask him to recall his best moments so far. Whistling into the future At just 22, Andrew James has already proven that he is particularly promising. He is already at Second Division and is also highly ambitious too. “My ultimate goal is to officiate at higher profile matches – this is what motivates me; even though I may sometimes find it hard to cope with all my studies and other commitments, I still manage to devote as much time as I can towards refereeing, as it gives me satisfaction.” Andrew also explains how refereeing has helped him throughout his social life by enhancing his leadership skills, especially when his friends are faced with stress, as he knows how to handle such situations.

His job also helps him maintain an appreciation for the complexities of the sport that a casual supporter could easily fail to notice. On a final note, Andrew would like to encourage those students who might be interested in taking up such a challenge. “I’d like to warn them beforehand that it is very tough, especially at the beginning, but exceptionally rewarding for those who are up to it.” He advises that they should never be overshadowed and should continue persevering towards fulfilling their dreams. “As a football lover I will always love being part of such a game.” Andrew says, as we shake hands on the final whistle.


inperson

46 the insiter  •  Special Edition 2010

Personality of the month

This month, Christine Spiteri sets out to interview an armed and extremely brainy individual.

T

his year’s World Cup hero has never played a minute of football and has got eight legs, not two. Meet Paul, formally known as Paul der Krake. He lives in a fish tank and has never been outside of Europe, and yet he is well known by people residing in every nook and cranny of our planet. Green’s blunder, Puyol’s curly hair and Maradona’s lucky charms are considered insignificant and boring when compared to anything involving Sir Krake. Dubbed as the “psychic” and the “oracle,” Paul correctly guessed the outcome of all of Germany’s matches, as well as the identity of the eventual winners, Spain. His methods of fore-

telling the future did not involve any palm reading, crystal ball gazing or anything of the sort. It involved placing two glass containers in which were planted Paul’s favourite snack (mussels). Each container displayed a picture of the teams’ national flag. The winning team was prophesized according to which mussel he scoffed first. Since the only way to communicate with cephalopods is to ask them to choose between two things, I had to rely on this method to carry out the following interview with this month’s personality.

ocean

aquarium

Palm reading

Fortune telling

blonde

brunette

stripes

spots

oyster

plankton

vuvuzela

World cup illustration yentl spiteri


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