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A newspaper promoting integration and diversity in Malta November 2013

Kif naraw lill-barrani

Living in Malta... Making a difference

Dakinhar li rċivejt ‘email’ biex niltaqgħu, għedt bejni u bejn ruħi “dan barrani”. Ismu u kunjomu jinstemgħu mill-Ewropa tal-Lvant. X’ħin daħal l-uffiċċju deher li ma kellux xeħta tipika Maltija: bjond, għajnejh żoroq u twil. Kellimtu bl-Ingliż. Weġibni bil-Malti. Kellimni b’Malti perfett mingħajr ħjiel wieħed ta’ aċċent stanġier. Naħeb li kien iltaqa’ mar-reazzjoni tiegħi kemm-il darba. “Jien iben ġenituri Pollakki imma għext hawn ħajti kollha u għalhekk inħossni wieħed minnkom”. F’dinja li qegħda tiċkien, it-taħlit bejn innazzjonalitajiet m’għadux ħaġa rari. Maltin isiefru u barranin jiġu…uħud jibqgħu. Falza hi l-impressjoni li ħafna barranin jiġu hawn jisirqulna xogħlna, jew li jfittxu ażil, inkella għax pensjonanti. Il-verità hija li bosta jiġu għall-imħabba. Għosfor iż-żmien ta’ meta kien jingħad li “baqra tajba tinbiegħ pajjiżha”. Illum wieħed minn kull tliet żwiġijiet f’Malta huwa ma’ persuni barranin. Ħarsa lejn il-kunjomijiet fid-Direttorju malajr turik kemm it-taħlit biżżwieġ minn dejjem kien komuni; aktar mal-

Maltin jitħalltu bis-safar, studju u komunikazzjoni bl-internet, żwiġijiet mal-barranin qed joktru b’rata mgħaġġla. It-tfal barranin f’pajjiżna ma jiġux biss bl-adozzjonijiet. Hawn mijiet ta’ tfal ċkejkin ta’ fattizzi, karnaġġjon u dehra ‘differenti’ li naħseb iħobbu jinku daqs in-neputi żgħir tiegħi. Meta lanqas għad għalaq seba’ snin diġa’ ntebaħ li meta jaqbillu jista’ jgħid li hu Malti, meta jaqbillu jgħid li hu Ingliż. Naf fiċ-ċert li la qatt se jkun tifel tipiku tar-raħal Malti imma lanqas qatt m’hu se jħossu purament Ingliż. Lidentità tiegħu se tibqa’ mfassla x’imkien bejn hemm u hawn. Bħalu fl-iskola ta’ San Pawl ilBaħar issib tużżani ta’ tfal oħra: Missier Malti u omm Russa; missier Ġermaniż u omm Maltija; omm Niġerjana u missier Malti eċċ eċċ. Ta’ min jgħid li din l-iskola hija post fejn jiltaqgħu tfal ta’ aktar minn tletin nazzjonalità. Daqs sebgħin tifel u tifla minnhom waslu l-ewwel darba fuq l-għatba tal-iskola la jafu jitkellmu Malti u lanqas Ingliż. Imma t-tfal jaqbdu tarf malajr; fost iċ-ċkejknin din id-diversità tista’ żżid is-seħer tat-tfulija u tintuża’ bħala riżors edukattiv li jiswa’ mitqlu deheb. Iżda x’jiġri meta t-tfal joħorġu mill-iskola? Is-soċjetà tagħna kif tgħin lil min jasal fostna ħalli jintegra biex jasal ikun komdu jgħix hawn? Ironikamenet minkejja li llum huwa tant faċli biex popli diversi jikkomunikaw u jivvjaġġaw, hawn reżistenza għall-‘oħrajn’. Waqt li aħna l-Maltin dejjem kellna l-fama li aħna ospitabbli mal-barrani, fl-aħħar snin rajna tiżdied fostna biża’ ta’ kulturi oħra. Hemm ċerta reżistenza għal wasla tal-barranin fostna forsi għaliex għad ma drajniex inkampaw f’soċjetà li kull ma jmur qegħda ssir aktar kumplessa. Hemm min idarrsu l-aktar il-kulur tal-ġilda skura. Biżżejjed wieħed jara l-kummenti fuq ‘Facebook’ jew fuq l-internet biex wieħed jintebah li hawn ansjetà liema bħalha. Iżda ironikament huwa l-internet u l-midja soċjali li huma l-akbar mezz komunikattiv interpersonali bejn il-ġnus. Paġna 13

Prior to commencing our project, SOS Malta conducted a survey to evaluate the current situation in Malta vis-à-vis integration and cultural diversity. The survey was conducted through an electronic survey interface over the internet where respondents were asked thirty-two (32) questions related to their feelings about interculturalism and the integration of Third Country Nationals (TCNs) in Malta. For the purposes of this project, a TCN is a person who came to Mal-

ta through legal channels from outside the European Union and is not a refugee or an asylum seeker. The questionnaire was divided into three sections, one general section for all respondents followed by a section for Maltese nationals and another for Third Country Nationals. The survey was based on a blend of  yes/ no,  open choice (OC) and multiple choice (MC) questions,  regarding the personal views on cultural diversity and integration of people legally residing in Malta who are nonEuropean citizens. Page 5

Be-Trade

Will’s Friends Pay it Forward

Mixja

Andrew Chetcuti: Life in America

Dr Carmen Sammut, Senior Lecturer fil-Midja

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Damian Ozoemena Iriele They say that sometimes you meet your destiny on the road you take to avoid it. But whether coming to Malta was my destiny or not, I intend to pursue with vigor whatever dreams I had as a child, regardless of the obstacles that lie ahead. I have survived, I intend to succeed....by divine intervention or sheer willpower. Armed with lots of ambition and dreams of making it abroad, I left my country, Nigeria, prepared to take whatever the world threw at me. Yes, I have taken some beating…. more psychological than physical. But I haven’t been deterred by the discrimination, stereotype perceptions, sometimes hostile and negative attitudes of some local persons and even foreigners, in the host country, which, instead of rejecting, I have used positively so far in order to pursue my dreams. Page 4

The Side by Side Survey Fotini Matskani

General Programme Solidarity & Management of Migration Flows 2007-2013 European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (IF) Project part-financed by the European Union Co-financing rate: 75% EU Funds: 25% Beneficiary’s Funds Sustainable Management of Migration Flows

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November 2013

Promoting interculturalism through the media Dear Reader, Welcome to the first edition of Side by Side, Malta’s first newspaper promoting integration and diversity. This project came to life following the hard work that SOS Malta has been doing since 1991. Social Solidarity is one of the four pillars SOS Malta focuses on. Following a number of projects involving integration and diversity, such as Media Interact and Intercultural Malta, SOS Malta felt the need to produce this newspaper, and today we are proud to present you with the first edition of Side by Side. Malta’s rich history is an excellent example of how cultural diversity shapes a nation. The different rulers who reigned over this tiny archipelago left an imprint on the

Maltese culture. Today, with just under 5% of the population being non-Maltese, different traditions, lifestyles and cultures are fusing with the Maltese way of life. We can now eat specialties from around the world in traditional restaurants as well as sample interesting blends such as the typical ‘sausage roll’ – a blend of German sausage, French pastry and Maltese ingenuity. A survey conducted prior to commencing works on this project indicated that at times, lack of knowledge and understanding may lead to a sense of fear which can act as a barrier to appreciate diversity. Side by Side wants to address these issues by informing and educating its readers. This innovative pilot project initiative, co-funded through the European Fund for the Integration of Third

Country Nationals (TCNs), is an example of how the media can actively promote integration – by celebrating cultural diversity for a healthier society. Enjoy reading the first issue and follow us on Facebook for updates. Do give us your feedback and suggestions on what you would like to read about in the forthcoming editions in January 2014 and April 2014!

The Editor Bartosz Romanczuk bartek.romanczuk@sosmalta.org www.sosmalta.org

Take action: Fight discrimination NCPE Maria Theresa Portelli

SOS Malta’s Aims and Activities SOS Malta is a registered Voluntary Organisation, set up in 1991, which works with local and international partners. The organisation assists socially disadvantaged groups in improving their quality of life by providing support services and opportunities to implement development and change. SOS Malta also encourages advocacy on behalf of social causes and promotes models of good care and practice. SOS Malta works on four pillars that encompass the above objectives. These are: Social Solidarity; Volunteering; Overseas Development; and Research and Training. Within the pillar of Social Solidarity, SOS Malta implements projects advocating for increased intercultural understanding and the introduction and implementation of measures which contribute towards the two-way process of integration and social inclusion of migrants living in Malta. Contact Details SOS Malta, 10 Triq il-Ward, Santa Venera, SVR 1640 Tel: +356 21244123 Email: info@sosmalta.org Website: www.sosmalta.org Facebook: SOS Malta Voluntary Organisation Registration No. VO/0033

Racial and ethnic discrimination occur on a daily basis, hindering progress for millions of people around the world; from denying individuals the basic principles of equality and non-discrimination to fuelling ethnic hatred, that may lead to racism, intolerance and genocide, that destroy lives and communities. How can I identify that I am discriminated against on the basis of my race or ethnic origin? Discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic origin occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of his/her race or ethnic origin. For example, it would be direct discrimination if a real estate agent refuses to rent a house to a person because s/he is of a particular racial background or skin colour. It is also racial discrimination when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people of a particular race, colour or ethnic origin. This is called indirect discrimination. An example of indirect discrimination on the basis of race is when a company says that employees must not wear hats or other headwear at work, as this is likely to have an unfair effect on people from some racial/ ethnic backgrounds. How am I covered by Maltese law? Discrimination on the basis of race/ethnic origin is covered by Chapter 456 of the Laws of Malta, Equality for Men and Women Act, and by Legal Notice 85/2007 – Equal Treatment of Persons Order. These laws foster equality on the basis of race or ethnic origin in employment, banks, financial institutions as well as education and vocational training; and in the provision of goods and services and their supply. Who can help me if I feel discriminated against on the basis of race/ethnic origin? The fight against discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic origin is one of the areas of priority for the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE). NCPE envisages a society which is equal and free from discrimination and champions inclusiveness whereby everyone, irrespective of their gender and family responsibilities, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, and gender identity, is able to achieve their full potential. In order to have a society which champi-

ons equality, NCPE works to promote equal treatment and also the elimination of discrimination by raising awareness, monitoring national laws and EU Directives, implementing policies, networking with different stakeholders, investigating complaints and providing assistance to the general public. What can I do if I, or other persons I know, experience discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic origin? You may want to deal with the situation yourself by raising the issue directly with the person or people involved or with a supervisor, manager or discrimination/harassment contact officer. If this does not resolve the issue, or you do not feel comfortable doing this, you can lodge a complaint with NCPE. How can I file such a complaint? It does not cost anything to file a complaint with NCPE. Your complaint needs to be put in writing. NCPE has a complaints form on its website www.equality.gov.mt that you can complete and send to its offices. An NCPE’s officer can also assist you in completing a Complaints’ Form if you come across any difficulties. Following receipt of a written Complaints’ Form, the case is investigated by NCPE. NCPE is bound by confidentiality and in this respect cannot divulge any information to third parties in relation to the investigation. Once an investigation is concluded, the Commissioner delivers an opinion on the case. Depending on the outcome, the parties involved may be called upon for mediation in order to consider proposals for remedial action. What can I do to prevent or combat discrimination? Stopping discrimination is not always easy. Everyone has a role to play to help ensure that people from diverse cultures and backgrounds have the same opportunities to participate in

political, economic and social life. You can address discrimination in a number of different ways: By seeking the advice of others in order to understand why discrimination may have taken place and how the system and structure can be changed; If behaviours or attitudes of others are discriminatory, promote change and highlight the benefits of inclusion and diversity. Practice inclusion in all the spheres of life including at work, and with friends and acquaintances, and give everyone the opportunity to make their voice heard. Know the law and your rights and seek the help of organisations which promote equality, like NCPE. Most importantly, take action, if you experience or witness a discriminatory situation, contact responsible bodies such as NCPE and seek advice. NCPE can be contacted on 2590 3850, equality@gov.mt or on its Facebook Page ‘National Commission for the Promotion of Equality’.


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November 2013

Be-Trade:

Man trades part of his identity in order to go to university and to work

Jasen Ogle Twelve years after his parents brought him to Malta, Mario Cucciardi had to trade his citizenship to seek work and higher education. Despite living in his parents’ home land for a decade, overcoming challenges to fit in, at 18, Mario had to renounce part of his Canadian identity in order to attain Maltese citizenship. Shortly after marrying, Mario’s parents emigrated to Canada in the 1960s to find work and start a new life together. Mario was born in Ontario, Canada in 1966. Growing up in Canada, the only Maltese people he knew were his parents and a distant cousin. Holding up an old school photo, he points to some of his friends, little boys and girls from around the world. His tall chubby figure stands smiling behind them. Mario tells us he still remembers white Christmases, big classrooms and wide streets and going to mass in the church that still holds a copy of his baptismal certificate. He gets up to search for a photograph, and returns with a photo of an old German Telefunken radio which brought back strong memories of that day in 1971 when his mother celebrated the news of a change of government in Malta. That moment was a turning point that would begin his journey to his parents’ home, his new home. Less than a year later, after a 12 day trip across the Atlantic, the Cucciardi family arrived in Malta. He still remembers the

“It was a traumatic experience. I was deprived of my rights. I had no support” impressive scene in the Grand Harbour. Bighi Military Hospital on the left and the Lower and Upper Barraka on the right. His family moved in with his aunt in Birgu and he attended St. Francis school in Cospicua. It was a struggle for the six year old Mario to adapt to his new life in Malta. Big streets with traffic lights and zebra crossings became small alleys, white Christmas turned to sunny Christmas, public school teachers turned to church school nuns. He had difficulties in communicating with his new friends and even with his cousins because he did not know Maltese and his spoken English was not that much accepted. He began learning Maltese at the age of 6 and his classes were in Maltese. “I thought my parents were speaking Spanish,” he recalls, when his parents spoke Maltese in Canada. At school, the nuns tried to replace his Canadian-English with British-English while at home his cousins teased him about his typical Canadian phrases and accent. “Oh my days” or “Oh my brother” were common exclamations that young Mario would use. His cousins would jokingly respond with “Oh my nights,” and “Oh my sister.” “But at the age of 18, things changed,” Mario says solemnly. After living more than half his life in the country of his parents’ birth, Mario was faced with the decision to trade part of his identity in order to go to university and to work. “To get a stipend and have free education, you had to be a Maltese citizen.” So he was asked to renounce his Canadian Citizenship. Alternatively he could return to Canada where there was no family to welcome him, no shelter and no job. But there was no choice. Mario went to the Capital to re-

nounce his citizenship in Castille. “I remember going in through the side entrance... to this day I still remember that moment when I pass by”. After explaining his situation to an official, he was given a form to complete and was told to go to the Commissioner of Oath’s Office to take an oath. Sometime later he received an official document from the Canadian government confirming that he had renounced his citizenship. Having spent twelve years attending school in Malta, he could not (and still cannot) understand why at the age of 18, he suddenly was not Maltese. Mario is still unsure of his legal status during that time, and no one has been able to explain it to him. “It was a traumatic experience. I was deprived of my rights. I had no support.” But life had to go on. Although learning Arabic was required in school when he was growing up, he continued studying it at university level where he specialised in Arabic and Maltese. He fell in love with the Maltese language and went on to study Maltese literature and linguistics. Mario taught Maltese before becoming head of Personal and Social Development at a secondary school. He pays extra attention to foreign students as he is reminded of his struggles adapting as a youth. “My heart aches for them,” he says. He can relate to his students’ frustration in learning a

“I thought my parents were speaking Spanish” new language and adapting to a new culture, because he has walked the same road. Mario is fluent in Maltese, English, Arabic and Italian with a good ear for other languages. He has a passion for learning and teaching. When in a diverse cultural setting, he uses these languages to bring people together through conversation. Mario has turned his challenging experience of adapting to a new land into a positive one. “I promote intercultural communication a lot. I’m a bridge, I love it.” However, he still feels uncertain about his identity and still struggles with being Maltese. “I feel mixed up. I’m contributing to this land, I am Maltese, but it hasn’t sunk in yet… I’m proud to be Canadian.” In 2000, the government announced that Malta would extend dual citizenship rights to second generation Maltese who were born outside Malta. The problem for Mario is that he had already been forced to give up his citizenship 25 years before the announcement. Having contacted the Canadian government several times to explain what happened in his youth, he was instructed that to regain Canadian citizenship he must return to Canada and live there for at least a year. He did consider going back, but found it difficult because he has settled down within the Maltese community with his wife and his two teenage children.

“I feel mixed up. I’m contributing to this land, I am Maltese, but it hasn’t sunk in yet… I’m proud to be Canadian” For Mario, returning to his homeland would feel like going on a holiday, not truly going home, because he is not recognised as a Canadian citizen. If he returns to Canada with his wife and kids, to show them his homeland, he would like to return as a citizen, and not a visiting tourist. “The idea of going home [as a visitor] hurts me.” Mario has made it a goal to regain his citizenship and help others like him regain their lost citizenship. For him, citizenship is more than a piece of paper. “Dual citizenship means my life, my history, my family.” Mario hopes the government will help him undo what he feels he was forced to do all those years ago.

Malta? What is Malta?

raisa Tarasova I met Silvia in the evening of a very hot July day when a breeze is everything you wish for. Despite the exhausting heat, she came to meet me fresh and energetic, to share her story of becoming Maltese. Raisa Tarasova: Silvia, what brought you to Malta? Silvia: I came to Malta with my husband who I met in my hometown, Guayaquil, in 1998. On the day I met him, some friends and I went to watch a football tournament. I was not much of football fan, but I joined my friends at a party after the match. The party was great. We spent the night dancing and I happened to meet a guy there. When I asked him where he was from, I thought I did not hear him correctly. I thought he said “Manta”, not “Malta” (Manta is a city in Ecuador). Although he seemed foreign to me, I asked him, “Are you from here, from Manta?” He replied, “No, I’m from Malta!” “Malta? What is Malta? Where is it?!” I had never heard about this place before and I had absolutely no idea where it was. “Give me a clue!” I told him. That was how I met my future Maltese husband. He told me he would have to leave in the morning. We exchanged telephone numbers and our ICQ chat number and he promised we would keep in touch. Next day my friends and I went to the same place for another party. “Look!”, my friends told me, “The guy you were dancing last night with!”. True, it was him - “What a liar!”, I thought. Then I found out that he got too drunk the night before and missed the flight! Despite the distance, we managed to keep in touch until he asked me to come to Malta. On 10th December 2000, I came to Malta. I soon found a job as an interpreter. The situation with work permits was complicated and finding a stable job was a problem. Malta was not an EU Member State back then and therefore, finding a job here was tough even for other European citizens, let alone a Latin American. After a year in Malta I returned to Ecuador; nevertheless, my Maltese boyfriend suggested coming back and giving it another try. “Come back and we will get married”, he said. I was so surprised by a marriage proposal made in such a way! In March 2002, I returned to Malta and on 1st December 2002 we got married. RT: Did you have any plans before coming to Malta? S: I did not have a clear plan as such, just some ideas. A friend of mine from Chicago invited me to go there to study. Most probably, that is what would have happened but instead of Chicago, I ended up in Malta!


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November 2013 RT: Was it difficult to integrate in Malta? S: No, it was not. At first, when surrounded by Maltese and hearing an alien language, I felt awkward and lost, as if I was on another planet. But other than that I do not think I found any difficulties. I am a qualified interior designer. At the beginning of my stay in Malta, I managed to find a job as an Assistant Interior Designer. Unfortunately, I had to quit after one year. The business was not profitable; we had to rely on foreign clients. My director told me that the “Maltese do not like trying new things”. I am a Roman Catholic and share the same faith with most Maltese persons: common values, common ground for integration. I immediately made friends with my future mother-in-law. She allowed me to stay at her house, with my fiancé, not in the same bedroom, of course. In return for her hospitality, I would help her around the house. The strongest connection to Malta I have now is my 8 year old son. RT: What do you like most about Malta? S: The sense of security, especially when compared to my home country. In the beginning, I could not believe it was possible to walk around Malta without fear of being robbed or abused. In Ecuador, I would never imagine going on a bus with a wristwatch! It was hard to believe such safety could be real! Then I got used to it and started sinking into it (she says smiling). Now, when I go back to Ecuador I am too careless sometimes, I forget I am not in Malta. It can be dangerous. Another thing I love about Malta is the easy living. Life here does not require any planning; it’s so easy and manageable. RT: What do you miss most about your home country? S: My big family. I have four brothers, many nephews. It is a big Latin American family.

I also miss friends and food. And, yes, shopping malls’ opening hours I miss as well! In Ecuador on Sunday it is possible to go shopping. The malls with cinemas and restaurants are open any day of the week. RT: Do you prefer the Ecuadorian way of spending weekends or the Maltese way? S: As Theodore Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy”. I try not to compare things I like. RT: Is there anything you cannot get used to in Malta? S: Yes, and it is winter! I have learned how to bear it but will never ever get used to it! In winter I complain about cold and humidity every day. Where I come from the weather is hot all the year round. My first winter in Malta, I suffered so much; now I just wrap myself in layers of clothes. RT: Does being a wife in Malta differ from being a wife in Ecuador? S: It does. In Ecuador we are still used to having home helpers. My mother had three persons to help her with the housework: a nanny [she was more like a family member], one helper to cook and another to clean the house. Here in Malta, I do everything myself and I am fine with it. My friends in Ecuador are almost shocked when I tell them. They would be helpless without maids. RT: Did you bring any Ecuadorian traditions with you to Malta? S: I can say so. The way I am bringing up my son might be different from a common Maltese way. The Maltese are soft on children. I try to teach my son to respect older generations; I always remind him to speak politely to his grandparents, to give them a hug and a kiss. I am an easy-going mother; however, I can be very strict too.

We learn quickly when we are young and that is why I think respect and manners should be taught as early as possible. RT: If abroad you are asked “Where are you from?” what would your answer be? S: I would say “Ecuador”, because that is where I come from. However, I am also Maltese. I am very grateful to Malta. My life here is not always pink but, overall, my experience is a good one.

Who is Raisa Tarasova? Our contributor, Raisa Tarasova, was born and raised in Astrakhan, a provincial city in the southwest of Russia. She studied marine ecology and biodiversity at the Astrakhan State Technical University and volunteered for the International Ocean Institute-Caspian Sea. At the age of 23 she travelled to Malta for the first time to participate in the Pacem in Maribus conference, organised by the International Ocean Institute (IOI). After attending two short scientific courses in 2008-2009, she moved to Malta as an employee of the IOI-Malta Operational Centre, where she is currently working in the field of operational oceanography. Raisa’s strong interests in different cultures and her own immigration experience encouraged her to meet other foreign residents in order to share their stories of becoming Maltese.

Living in Malta... Making a difference Damian Ozoemena Iriele The Maltese Island is known for its hospitality dating back to St.Paul. Nothing has changed but experiences differ…..especially as a black immigrant from a third world nation, especially as it is influenced by the migration brouhaha which has affected attitudes and levels of tolerance in recent times. But it is also encouraging that despite some of the obstacles described above, Malta offers migrants various, business, welfare, security, fundamental rights and academic opportunities which are sometimes are taken for granted in other parts of the world.

I have raised a family in Malta, as a naturalized Third Country National (TCN), with a very limited grasp of the Maltese language, but the lack of spoken Maltese has made very little or no difference in all my personal pursuits and engagements. As a matter of fact, academic pursuit has led to credits in MATSEC (Ordinary and Advanced) level subjects, a Bachelors of Arts (Hons) Degree in Criminology and a Masters of Arts Degree in Diplomatic Studies from the University of Malta. The opportunities that are open and hassle-free compared with other foreign tertiary institutions. If you present the basic requirements (and even when you don’t) channels towards obtaining the right requirements are provided through expert guidance. The opportunities are there to be taken, as long as you are a legal resident, regardless of country of origin.

I have survived, I intend to succeed Malta is a model country and a suitable place to take up residence. Apart from its welcoming climate, it offers a safe environment and sociable English-speaking population. Malta offers a variety of benefits to persons seeking to procure residence on the Island, given its beneficial tax system and reasonable cost of living. The Island is one of the gateways to mainland Europe, and because of this geostrategic position, serves as a good business link with the African continent. Malta’s tourism industry has made it a prospective importing country. Business profits are more likely if one imports goods rather than exports from Malta, (the reason being that goods are a little bit more expensive if bought in Malta than if bought from Asian countries, the Americas or even from other parts of Europe. Experience shows that breaking even may be likely when exporting from Malta, but making profits compared to the margin of effort in a given transaction may prove a little difficult. Hence, some people use Malta as a base for contact and residence, while engaging in business activities outside the Island. With less than half a million people, Malta is a small state, so, opportunities are limited. Resources can be scarce, with fierce com-

petition between foreign residents and the rest of the population. There is always going to be some resentment towards foreigners and other foreign elements. But what do you expect? I have lived in Malta for the past fifteen years. Having spent about three years in Libya, I witnessed life under dictatorship and this was just under an hour’s flight away from Malta in 1999. I arrived in Malta to unlimited freedom in almost everything. I cannot help but wonder of what life would have been like if some African leaders could take home a cue from the democratic leadership practiced in the West. Nigeria for instance, the giant of Africa, the most populous black Nation in the world, with natural resources worthy of envy by most Western countries; yet still, more than half of her citizens live daily in abject penury….you can’t help but wonder. For a Nigerian and a legal Third Country National (TCN), there is always the problem of selective engagement. While other country nationals, especially African third-world countries are more likely to be seen as better partners for engagement, Nigerians are seen by some to be criminals, dubious, wild and aggressive. This is of course, the result of negative publicity propagated by a handful of Western Nations, emanating from political or economic disagreement. What makes a great Nation? The good, the bad and the not so good. Nigeria is no different. My experience with one of Malta’s leading NGO’s proved to some extent to

As Maltese society’s beliefs we enshrined in the Catholic doctrines and the fear of God, Nigerian culture is based on very diverse religious worship what was suspected: that, even amongst the foreign population, some individuals and institutions label and stereotype they apply a systematic method to segregate. These methods of discrimination on whom to engage with, are a little difficult to detect and very difficult to prove, especially when they are perpetrated by those who are supposed to assist, guide and, to some extent protect you. On the other hand, those who have dealt with or who have interacted with a Nigerian or who have had the opportunity of visiting Nigeria, know that Nigerians are fun loving, yes, sometimes wild but this is natural in every individual. Nigerians are very friendly and caring people with a cultural dynamic similar to that of the Maltese people. Family bond is fundamental hence, the high rate of money remitted from all over the world to relatives back home. Extended family relations, also found in Maltese culture, are very much, if not more, prevalent in Nigerian ethnic society…yes, lots of cousins, nephews, nieces and so on. As Maltese society’s beliefs we enshrined in the Catholic doctrines and the fear of God, Nigerian culture is based on very diverse religious worship. A substantial number of the population is Catholic but is now nearly outnumbered by people from the Protestant faith, which is also gradually creeping into the Maltese Islands. Yes, Christianity is an integral part of the life of many Nigerians. People marvel at and are sometimes envious of, the ease to adjust, the way in which most Nigerians adapt and integrate in the host country. This can be explained by the political and economic dysfunction that they have endured for a long time back

home. As a result, most Nigerians are used to being independent, with a nurtured survival instinct and adaptive skills to mingle with other people. Nigeria has well over a hundred and fifty million inhabitants with a significant number of foreign residents. The registered Nigerian diasporas are well documented the world over; hence, the ability to relate and integrate with people of other Nations, including Malta. Where other Nationals appeal to their host for a ration, a Nigerian wants to eat on the same table with the host…proud to be Nigerian! Before academic pursuits, professional journeys have taken the writer to a few football clubs on the Island. A good number of Nigerian Third Country Nationals (TCN) have pursued professional football careers in Malta. As in any field of endeavor and irrespective of the small size of the Island, some have been successful but some have not because of a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, that did not dampen the spirit to succeed in other areas. I have been engaged professionally by a security company in Malta, a security company in United Kingdom, and, for a few years, in one of Malta’s five star hotels. As the saying goes in Nigerian folklore ‘’ a masquerade festival is never seen from one

Nigerians are very friendly and caring people with a cultural dynamic similar to that of the Maltese people direction’’….. If you don’t have a good view from a particular direction, move to a space with a better view. Another saying goes ‘’there are many roads that lead to the market place” The writer is a good example of a few that have taken a different road other than the one originally intended. When the opportunities to succeed are non-existent, when the means of livelihood is taken away by a few, when you are faced with very little hope to realise your dreams, choices are made for better or worse. Chances are taken by individuals with dreams and hopes of making a difference in whatever society they find themselves in. The will to succeed, to be greater than the perils to the destination, will drive the individual to the dream by any means necessary…..even on rubber dinghies! The life of any individual is full of tales, some unexpected, some foreseen. Some say that whenever you leave your home, you are already in trouble. A lot now depends on the kind of trouble you get yourself into…so is the life of an immigrant. A lot very much depends on how much these activities affect your life, wherever you decide to take up residence…in Malta, for example. Glory comes to those with guts. Dreams come true if you dare to try. You have to dare to win...


5

November 2013

A good start with much more work ahead Fotini Matskani The main objective of this survey was to get a general overview of the current situation in Malta; to see what should be addressed and what potential elements of interest could be included for the benefit of our readers. The survey was advertised on news portals, social media and disseminated through email to both Maltese nationals and TCN contacts acquired to date. A total of 318 respondents participated in our survey, out of which  around 82% were Maltese and  18% were Third County Nationals with the majority being in the 25-35 age group bracket (38.67%). The first part of the survey

The main objective of this survey was to obtain a general overview of the current situation in Malta (Questions 1-11) included general questions referring to cultural diversity and interculturalism. The survey clearly showed that there is a lot of interaction between Maltese nationals and TCNs in the Maltese society, with an overwhelming majority of 84.05% stating that they know people from different cultures or ethnic backgrounds and 48.64% who have friends from a different culture or ethnic background. Further to this, we discovered that more than half of the respondents, 51.27%, would like to live in a neighbourhood with more cultural diversity, whilst 69.29% of the respondents would like to have more opportunities to meet people from different cultures or ethnic backgrounds. Food dominated the interests of our respondents, with 80.62%

of respondents willingly showed interest in cuisine originating from different regions worldwide. This was followed by language at 59.91%, music at 58.15%, religion at 52.42% and finally clothes at 35.68%. Moreover, Northern and Southern American cultures received most interest in our survey as far as regions go, with 33.19% of respondents stating they are particularly interested in getting to know more about them. This was followed by the Asian culture at 26.38%, African culture at 23.40% and finally the Australian culture at 17.02%. When asked to define cultural diversity, omitting a few insignificant answers, the majority of the respondents showed a good knowledge of its meaning, defining it as an environment created by different co-existing cultures which, when coupled with mutual respect, interaction and harmony which can result in a culturallyricher, healthier and more peaceful society. We also realised that, although the notion of interculturalism is relatively new, the majority of respondents understood the meaning of this term and showed a positive outlook towards it. To summarise, we can say that the general view obtained through this survey explained interculturalism as the exchange and interaction of cultures reflecting equal opportunities, social justice and mutual respect where different cultures are not absorbed into one but co-exist peacefully together whilst retaining their individual identities. The following are a few examples of the comments received: “Exchange of cultures, merging but also retaining their own diversity” “I think that interculturalism is the mixing of ideas between people in order to enhance a conversation or a dialogue to better understand a culture” “It is going beyond mutual understanding of cultures into estab-

lishing a common ground where each culture can benefit but is also ready to give up something of its own in order to keep balance” “It is the integration of the diverse cultures living in peace, harmony and understanding” The second part of the survey (Questions 12-19) was only addressed to Maltese respondents in order to delve deeper into local thoughts and opinions about the coexistence of different cultures in Malta and their perspective on the integration of foreigners in their society. An overwhelming majority of the Maltese respondents, 94.59%, believe that “Third Country Nationals” should learn about the Maltese culture whilst at the same time only 37.50% of respondents admitted to have participated in events promoting cultural diversity. Although at first glance the

We cannot neglect the urgent need to raise awareness about our society survey indicates that the Maltese society somewhat objects to the idea of cultural coexistence, our findings indicate another element which is worth addressing. Getting to know other cultures and understanding them are at the core of interculturalism, however cultural events in Malta do not seem to be as popular. To add insult to injury, the few cultural events which are organised rarely reach the general public. 66.31% of our respondents claimed that they would like to participate in events promoting cultural diversity if they were given the chance to do so. As further proof to this, 78.42% of respondents said that events like music, dance, drama and story-telling can promote integration and cultural diversity whilst 75.26% also stated that they would like to read more

about these events and be informed about them. When asked about the genre of articles that would be of interest to our readers, festivals scored almost 84% and ranked above all the rest, followed by cultural events at about 83% and restaurants at 62%. Arts, leisure and education seem to be the themes that carry the widest interest as far as cultural diversity goes with a score of 73% for arts, 60% for education and just over 55% for leisure. Several interesting suggestions were put forward on how Malta can promote cultural diversity in the media, varying from an increase in programmes and documentaries about other cultures along with interviews with foreigners on all the media and also in schools. Moreover it was noted that the media should shift its focus towards the positive aspects of cultural diversity by showing viewers the richness of foreign arts, food, ethics, music etc. Another interesting suggestion offered for the media was to employ presenters of different nationalities with the possibility of presenting shows in other languages besides Maltese. The third part of the survey (Questions 20-29) addressed Third Country Nationals, posing the same questions to them as to Maltese people in order to investigate their perspective regarding integration and what could be improved. Third country nationals (TCNs) who answered our survey have a very positive attitude towards cultural diversity, as the majority (63.16%) participated in events related to cultural diversity and over 71% would like to participate in more activities if they are given the opportunity to do so. In addition to the above, over 84% of TCNs said that events such as music, dance, drama and story-telling can promote integration and cultural diversity and almost 79% of respondents said they would like to read about these events and be

informed about them. With regards to suggestions by TCNs on the promotion of cultural diversity in the media, numerous respondents stated that journalism should become more objective, less biased and focuses on the entertaining aspects of diversity such as arts, food, music and language. Foreign authors, journalists and simple stories of other people could be used in the media to present their perspective on reality in order to inform the Maltese society about their way of life. Finally, the last part of the questionnaire, which was optional, consisted of an evaluation of the questionnaire itself and of this initiative. 42% of the respondents felt that the content of the questionnaire was good while over 39% felt that this project is useful. This survey gave us a general idea on the situation present in Malta regarding perceptions of TCNs living in Malta and how TCNs are perceived by the local society. Whilst acknowledging all the positive outcomes of the survey, we cannot neglect the urgent

69.29% of the respondents would like to have more opportunities to meet people from different cultures or ethnic backgrounds need to raise awareness about our society, in which an abundant amount cultures co-exist. We live in a globalised world to which we have to adapt in the best way possible in order to live peacefully together. For this to happen we need to learn about our surrounding cultures, appreciate the differences and learn from each other.

Lend a helping hand... a path for integration Sara Spiteri Sara met Robyn Miller who confessed to her to be on the really good side of the late 40s. Originally from South Africa, before coming to Malta, Robyn also lived in Switzerland and the UK. Sara Spiteri: Why did you choose to come to Malta? Robyn Miller: I fell in love with my husband whilst here in Malta in 2000. S: How long have you been living in Malta? R: Just over 2 years. S: What do you like most about Malta? R: All of it – as the saying goes you either love it or hate it. S: What do you like the least about Malta? R: I would have to say lack of birdlife. S: How do you make a living? R: I am the Chief Operating Officer of a Telecommunications company. S: What are the biggest differences you see between your country and Malta? R: Generally the culture is the same – open and welcoming. The liveliness in which the Maltese speak (which is really part of Mediterranean culture) is different compared to where I come from.

S: What helps you to feel part of the Maltese culture? R: My family and I are part of many clubs, groups and expat clubs in Malta. Presently we are members of a group which is working towards raising €8,000 for Angela House in Pietà to resolve some of their needs. Further to this, last year we had a lot of support in running a shoebox campaign, where everyone puts gifts in a shoebox for children. We plan on doing it again this year. S: What languages do you speak? R: English, Afrikaans, German and a touch of Dutch. S: Which is your favorite place in Malta? R: I have a soft spot for St. Paul’s Bay, as this was where I first came to live in Malta. S: What would you change if you could go back in time? R: I would have moved to Malta much earlier. S: Tell me a few things about your country: R: Open spaces, open arms from the community, birdlife, the most glorious sunsets after a Highveld storm. S: Tell me about your religion or traditions. R: Well I would not be South African if I did not have regular Braai’s, or as is known by others, a BBQ. As the culture has a love for meat, Boerewors has to be on the grill (which is normally made with wood – no charcoal). In South Africa it is a tradition to meet on weekends for Rugby to support the nation’s

number one sport. Brandy and Coke go with that of course; for some, beers, while women generally opt for our very fine wines.

Who is Sara Spiteri? Sara Spiteri is an aspiring 19-year old student from Fgura who has recently finished her A Levels . She is keen on photography, photo modeling and playing the piano. She aspires to become a successful writer and journalist. In her own words, “Every day I look forward to new experiences which make my life more interesting. I believe that all good things come to an end because better thing are going to happen”.


6

November 2013

Uniquely Maltese PROF. Patrick J. Schembri

The Maltese biota Islands have always had a particular fascination for naturalists. Suffice it to recall that both Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin were inspired to think about how species arise by their experience on the islands of the Malay archipelago and the Galapagos, respectively. One can hardly equate these exotic and remote islands with the Maltese islands, which have an area of a mere 315 square kilometres and are barely 96 km from the nearest large land mass (Sicily). Moreover, the Maltese Islands have a very limited range of habitats, with no mountains, lakes or rivers, or even extensive wet areas, and they have been more or less continuously inhabited by humans for at least 7500 years during which time the inhabitants have modified or impacted practically every corner of the islands. What, therefore, could there be of interest for nature-lovers on these densely populated and much altered islands? Surprisingly, the answer is, “quite a lot”. There is still much we do not know about the plants, animals and other living things (the biota) that live on the Maltese Islands but we know enough © Prof. Patrick J. Schembri to appreciate that in spite of their relatively small size, the limited range of habitats and intense human presThe Maltese Salt-tree, Darniella melitensis, an endemic shrub belonging to the spinach fam- sure, the islands harbour remarkably diverse fauna ily that is most commonly found growing on sea-cliffs or steep rocky ground close to the sea

Endemic species ‘Endemic’ in the present context means restricted to one defined area and not found anywhere else. To be endemic to the Maltese Islands, therefore, means to be found on these islands and nowhere else in the world. Such species are therefore uniquely Maltese and of great scientific interest, not to mention of conservation importance since the entire world population of such species is to be found on these minute islands where they are subject to numerous natural and human-related threats. The list of Maltese endemic species is surprisingly large and includes some 20 species of flowering plants, about six snails, seven spiders, and five woodlice, and more than 40 insects; it also includes a local lizard and a shrew. Moreover, there are many other species that are suspected to be endemic but which are still being studied. Some of the endemic species are very different from their closest

relatives elsewhere; others differ from their relatives to a lesser degree and are considered to be isolated island races of more widely distributed species. Such entities are known as ‘subspecies’, implying that they are on the way to becoming full species in their own right if their isolation continues, but they are not quite there yet. How species reach islands in the first place and become isolated, and how they then accumulate changes as they adapt to the unique environments of islands to the point that they become different from their ancestors, is a fascinating subject. It is consideration of this topic that led Wallace and Darwin to propose their theory of evolution by natural selection. The story of the colonisation of the Maltese Islands by biota will have to wait for a future article, but we may end this account by considering the case of the Maltese Wall Lizard which is one of the best know of the endemic species and which serves to illustrate why the study of Maltese endemics is so fascinating.

© Prof. Patrick J. Schembri

The Filfla race of the Maltese Wall Lizard, Podarcis filfolensis, endemic to the islet of Filfla. The particular dark coloration of this species makes it the most distinct of the various named races of the Maltese Wall Lizard.

The Maltese Wall Lizard The Maltese Wall Lizard, known scientifically as Podarcis filfolensis, is a species that until very recently was thought to occur only on the Maltese Islands and on the nearby Pelagian Islands; however, recent genetic studies have now shown that the populations on the Pelagian Islands were introduced by humans from those of the Maltese Islands relatively recently, so the Maltese Wall Lizard is actually strictly endemic to the Maltese Islands. Other genetic studies have revealed that the closest relative of the Maltese Wall Lizard is the Italian Wall Lizard, Podarcis sicula, a predominantly southern European species that is very common in southern Italy. It would seem, therefore, that an ancestral population of the Italian Wall Lizard became isolated on the Maltese Islands thousands of years ago and gradually evolved into a new species, the Maltese Wall Lizard, unique to the Maltese Islands.

and flora that includes representatives of practically all the groups known to occur in the central Mediterranean region. To date, the tally of species includes some 900 different species of flowering plants, about the same number of lower plants, including the fungi, some 4000 species of invertebrates (animals without backbones), of which more than half are insects, one amphibian, nine reptiles, some 200 birds (most of which are not resident but are regular visitors or regular migrants) and some 20 mammals. These figures do not include brackish water and marine species or species that have been introduced by humans in modern times. As is to be expected given the proximity of Sicily, the main affinities of the Maltese biota are with Sicily and indeed the vast majority of Maltese species also occur in Sicily. However, the Maltese islands are not merely an appendage to Sicily in this respect because there are also species that occur in Malta that are not found in Sicily. Some of these are species that occur in the eastern Mediterranean or in North Africa and in the Maltese Islands, but not further west or north. This might perhaps be expected, given the Maltese Islands’ position at the centre of the Mediterranean. Even more interesting than these are those species that are endemic to the Maltese Islands.

© Prof. Patrick J. Schembri Maltese Everlasting, Helichrysum melitense, a rare yellow-flowered endemic plant of the daisy family that is only known from the western coast of Gozo.

It is very interesting that the populations of the Maltese Wall Lizard on some of the islands of the Maltese archipelago present differences in size and colour pattern, particularly the degree of dark mottling on the back and the colour of the under-neck region of adult males. Some of these differences were deemed to be large enough to merit distinction of these populations as unique island races in their own right and some of these races have received formal scientific names and have been regarded as distinct subspecies. Thus there are named races on Filfla (subspecies: filfolensis) on the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino (subspecies: maltensis), on General’s (= Fungus) Rock (subspecies: generalensis), and on Selmunett (= St. Paul’s) Islands (subspecies: kieselbachi). However, the coloration of most of these races is highly variable and not everybody agrees that these races are different enough to be regarded as island subspecies. Only genetic studies, currently underway, will tell and preliminary results indicate that the story is even more complex, and interesting, than thought previously.

© Prof. Patrick J. Schembri Underside of a male of the General’s Rock race of Maltese Wall Lizard, Podarcis filfolensis generalensis, endemic to the General’s Rock off the west coast of Gozo. Apart from the Filfla race, the other races of the Maltese Wall Lizard differ in the colour of the underside of adult males.


7

November 2013

Malta’s history in a nutshell Side by Side

Did you ever have the chance to watch the fireworks’ show at the Grand Harbour? Taste the irresistible ħobż biż-żejt whilst enjoying a day by the sea? Visit the Megalithic Temples, known as the ‘oldest free-standing monuments in the world’? If you have not, then you have not experienced Malta yet! Centuries of foreign rule fill most of the history of this tiny country in the middle of the Mediterranean, which only gained its Independence in 1964. But although thousands of years have passed, foreign rulers, their customs and survival skills have all remained embedded here and transformed the Maltese traditions, architecture, culture, literature, language, food and much more! This article will give you a glimpse of Malta along the centuries. c.5000 B.C. - 725 B.C. Pre-Historic Era Arguably, the first people to reach Malta originated from its neighbouring island - Sicily. They were probably farmers who were already able to rear animals and amazingly built the oldest free standing temples in the world - older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids! Nowadays these temples are considered to be UNESCO world heritage sites.

Old Maltese Temple painting by Jessica Tonna

1091 - 1194 A.D. The Norman Period Following centuries of foreign rule, the Sicilians once again conquered the Maltese islands through Roger I of Sicily - also known as The Great Count. A Maltese legend says that it was Count Roger who gave Malta its first flag - red and white - as Ruġġieru himself

c.725 - 218 B.C. The Punic Era It is thought that for a considerable period of time, the Maltese Islands were uninhabited, until the Phoenicians pulled in the crowds again. Famous for their purple-coloured fabric - obtained through a dye extracted from the murex trunculus sea snail these marine/naval businessmen managed to expand their enterprise all the way from the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean to the Strait of Gibraltar. Besides turning Malta into a business hub, the Phoenicians introduced the Semitic language in the island. c. 218 B.C. - 476 A.D. The Roman Era The Romans gained control over Malta during the Punic wars. This was an important period for the Maltese islands as the Romans indirectly brought Malta closer to the European continent. The Romans brought Latin along with them - although Phoenician (or Semitic) was still preferred by the people in general. St. Paul’s shipwreck in 60 A.D. brought the Christian faith, for which reason Saint Paul has been named the ‘Father of the Maltese’. 476 - 870 A.D. The Byzantine Period Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Malta’s history is rather vague as little record exists on what had happened but it is said that Malta was captured by the Vandals and later fell in the hands of the Byzantine General Belissarius until the arrival of the Arabs. c. 870. - 1091 A.D. The Arab Period The Maltese way of life continued to transform as new methods of farming, irrigation and other relevant techniques where introduced by the Arabs. The cotton industry evolved in Malta over the 200-year Arab reign which obviously also had a significant impact on the already Semitic Phoenician language that was used in everyday life. During this period, Malta became predominantly Muslim.

Hagar Qim Megalithic Temple c.5000 B.C. - 725 B.C. Pre-Historic Era

tore a piece of his red and white mantle and handed it over to the Maltese before leaving the islands. 1194 - 1530 A.D. The Hohenstaufen, Angevin and Aragonese Domination For around 400 years, Malta was considered as being part of Sicily. During this period, Malta was leased and sold on to various barons until it became part of the Spanish empire under the Aragonese rule. The Maltese were dissatisfied with the situation and started to rebel - for a brief period they also had complete control on their homeland. 1530 - 1798 The period of the Hospitaller Knights of St John of Jerusalem An agreement between the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (King of Spain and Sicily) and Pope Clement VIII led to the granting of the Maltese Islands to the Knights of St. John who were expelled from Rhodes by the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. Over a period of more than 260 years, the Knights of St. John managed to shake the foundations of Malta, turning it into a well-defended fortress. Following the Great Seige against the Turks in 1565, they build the city of Valletta, known as the City built by gentlemen for gentlemen, or the superbissima - the most magnificent - and it was amongst the most powerful cities in Europe thanks to the good use of its surrounding ports. Throughout their stay in Malta, the Knights of St. John built palaces, churches, gardens, magnificent fortifications and decorated the island with superb artworks. The language received another dose of foreign influence - this time from numerous European languages coming from the different Langues of the Order of St. John. The official language in Malta during this period was Italian. 1798 - 1800 The French Occupation ‘Bonġu’ (bonjour) for good morning and ‘bonswa’ (bonsoir) for good evening are clear

indications of the French influence in Malta. During his short six-day stay in Malta, Napoleon Bonaparte introduced numerous changes to Maltese customs - he abolished slavery and feudal laws, for which the Maltese initially welcomed the French rule. Yet the honeymoon period soon came to an end when several convents were closed and many treasures stolen from Churches - the most famous loss being the sword of the Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette. 1800 - 1964 The British Period For over 160 years, Malta was a colony ruled by the British. Since the British Empire was so wide spread, with its power and influence extending throughout the globe, trade started to flow through the Island again - which led to further economic and soMnajdra Megalithic Temple cial progress. The Islands were c.5000 B.C. - 725 B.C. considered an important naval Pre-Historic Era base - one of the reasons for the extensive bombing suffered during the Second World War, following which the Maltese nation was awarded the George Cross (for Gallantry), which is proudly exhibited on the national flag. During this period, the use of Italian was downgraded by the increased use of the English Language. In 1934, English and Maltese were declared as the sole official languages of the Island. 1964 Malta’s Independence Malta gained its Independence from the British Empire on the 21st of September, 1964. Yet Her Majesty the Queen was still considered as the Head of State and the Governor-General took decisions on behalf of the Queen. 1974 Malta as a Republic Ten years on, following numerous reforms to the constitution, Malta became a Republic. The Head of State, a Maltese President, would be appointed by parliament every five years. 2004 Malta joins the European Union On the 1st of May 2004, Malta joined the European Union along with ten other countries.

The Murex trunculus sea snail c.725 - 218 B.C. The Punic Era


8

November 2013

Food for Christmas Monique Chambers Christmas is generally a time for family, though with today’s economic and political climate, many are far from their roots and so an interpretation of their traditional Christmas is enjoyed.   With couples pairing from varying backgrounds, new traditions are borne and spread. In Malta for instance, Christmas is influenced by both Italy and England, with soup, pasta, a roast turkey and panettone making up the main  meal. The midnight Mass is more of an Italian influence, and I believe that soon, Boxing Day, the 26th December, will gain traction as a day of rest post-festivities, as it is in the UK. We are lucky to have a good mix of nationalities in our circle, so we are able, each year, to pick and mix to make our holiday season, some-

thing we look forward to from the end of Summer. A real tree is the start, we decorate this with candles which, like the Germans, we light on Christmas eve. Chocolates are also hung on to the tree but not so many of them make it to present-opening time. We stick to the 12 days concept, and although the cake is started in September, we try to make this the only preparation before December. The day itself is quite normal, but let me share a couple of tips with you. 1.  To ensure your turkey is moist, half fill the roasting tray with water and add a large knob of butter. Lay the turkey, breast side down on a roasting rack in the tray and loosely cover with foil, cook as directed by your butcher, turning only for the last 30 minutes to brown the breast. This method ensures that the juices remain within the

bird, and the bath gives a steam effect, maximising moisture. 2. Use filo pastry to make mince pies, add a cube of apple or chopped hazelnuts or a walnut half to each pie before sealing and you will not have any leftover mince pies!

Roxana Zaharia shares the Romanian Christmas experience with us: “To Romanians Christmas is the perfect opportunity to overindulge in food & drink. So much so that every year there is at least one case on the local news about some poor guy that got so drunk he nearly got an axe stuck in the side of his cranium. The usual interview includes an uptight, rapid-speaking reporter

and an interviewee showing a large smile, slightly puzzled look, two teeth dangling in his mouth and a bright holiday spirit! Thus, I digress. Romanians have been through tough times, and joking aside, if people can’t afford to have certain products (like meat) for months at a time, they will make a financial effort and put their best on the table for the holidays. We have a lot of Turkish influence in our food, and holiday meals are heavy, including a lot of red minced meat, sauces, potatoes & sausages of all types.  Women start cooking days in advance, the house fills with smells of minced meat wrapped in cabbage leaves, sausages, meat roulades, all kinds of starters from dips to eggs with different fillings. There’s a lot of food! If ten years ago making a Christmas tree was a luxury for some Romanians, globalisation has certainly blessed us with products for everyone’s budget, and most houses decorate their living rooms with festive knickknacks. Parents still try to con-

vince children to be good by invoking Santa Claus, not knowing that Google’s already divulged that Santa’s an impostor.  The celebrations are always lively, as Romanians gather from young to old to enjoy Christmas. It’s actually one of the few times in the year when the whole family makes an effort to get together. Romanians are also generous people, and we love to give presents, therefore the tree is often inundated by them, giving the room a joyful, colorful & chaotic look.  In the country-side, women dress in traditional clothing. Two days before Christmas, children gather in groups and go carolling in the neighbourhood. Those that welcome them are meant to treat them with something small, such as home-baked cookies. Traditions vary, depending on the area of Romania you come from and whether it is a rural or urban environment, but one thing stays the same: Romanians plan for Christmas months in advance and they love it.”

Russian Pancakes Pancakes (‘bliny’) occupy a very special place in Russian cuisine: for centuries they have been traditional festive food. Deeply rooted with ancient Slavic cults of the Sun, they became a favourite meal of Eastern Slavs approximately in the eighth century BC. Pancakes are the main attribute of the Russian analogue of carnival - Masnenitsa, or Butter Week - every day of which is celebrated with a particular type of pancake. During Butter week, pancakes serve to bid farewell to winter and welcome spring; they are also symbols of abundant days before the Orthodox Great Lent. Love of pancakes united all classes of Russian society: pancakes with caviar were a treat for royalty, peasants had pancakes with sour cream. Topped with sour cream, caviar, berries or jam, the pancakes below are perfectly suited for an everyday dinner and a festive occasion, it is an easy way to surprise your guests.

Raisa Tarasova

Step 1: Take a deep pan. Whisk eggs with salt and sugar. Do not reduce the amount of sugar; it is the precise amount required for the yeast growth. Step 2: Mix water with milk, warm it up to 37 °C and then add to the egg mixture. Add sunflower oil, yeast and flour to the mixture. Shuffle until the mixture’s texture is even. Step 3: Cover the pan with a towel and leave it in a warm place (ideally next to an oven) for 50-60 minutes. When the pastry increases twice in volume, knead it and leave to grow again. Step 4: Get a large frying pan, pre-heat it and melt a small cube of butter in it. Step 5: Avoid kneading the pastry to save as many bubbles as possible. Carefully, spoon a ladle of the pastry on the frying pan. Quickly help the pastry spread. Step 6: Fry for 30-50 seconds to a minute on each side. Step 7: Serve with your favourite topping. Traditionally, Russian pancakes are rolled and eaten by hand, without a knife and a fork.

Ready in 2 hours 20 mins Serves for 8 persons Caloric value: 328 Kcal per portion Ingredients: 60 g of sugar 3 eggs 100 ml of sunflower oil 300 ml of milk 200 ml of water 1 teaspoon of salt 7 g of yeast 300 g of flour


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November 2013

Where Cultures blend with food

C: Yes. I try different ways to serve things; for example, if I make a Shawarma, I plate it in a Moroccan plate so that patrons get a taste of a whole eating experience. SBS: How has La Mère changed over the past six years? C: We started off as a cafeteria; a year later, when I met Sh, I began to introduce specials every one to three weeks. I used to make Indian curries, sizzlers, tandoori dishes, tagines, shawarmas, etc. Patrons reacted well, because they didn’t find a lot of these dishes in Malta. I built the menu on the favorites from the specials. It changed a lot from the first year to the second year. There was a big turn over. SBS: When did you meet Sharona?

C: I met him at a restaurant in Buġibba over 4 years ago. SBS: What message would you like to give to our readers? C: A lot of people have a misconception that Indian or Arabian food is spicy or they are not going to like it. If you try it the first time, you’ll become addicted to it, that’s for sure. Sometimes people come in and order something Mediterranean. Then they see someone eating an Indian or Arabian dish. They call us over and ask about the dish. The next time they come they order that dish, and from then on, they order an Indian or Arabian dish. At first it’s a bit difficult to try something different, but sometimes you have to be adventurous.

After his question and answer interview, Chef Clinton and the kitchen staff prepared some dishes for us to sample.

From the Right is Chef Clinton, then Chef Sharona, and assistants. Jasen Ogle If you were to ask any business owner whether he or she would expand if business was good enough, he or she would probably say yes. One restaurant owner in Valletta begs to differ. SBS got to know a little bit about La Mère, owner Chef Clinton Cachia and his assistant, Chef Sharona. Side by Side: Where are you from? Clinton: I lived in Zabbar and Ghaxaq, but I was born in Saint Luke’s hospital, like 80% of the Maltese (he says laughing).

We have a mixed clientele - Indians, Arabs, North Americans, Australians. SBS: Why did you decide to become a chef? C: My mother died when I was eight. I am the eldest of three, with my brother and my sister, who is the youngest. Since I was young, I used to cook at home for my family. Later, I got a job in air-conditioning installation and repair. I realised it wasn’t for me. I said to myself, “I think catering is for me.” It was something inside that wanted to come out. SBS: How did you learn to cook for your siblings? C: You learn by experience. I used to watch my father and others cook. Later, I trained part-time at the Institute of Tourism Studies in Pembroke for two years. SBS: What influences the dishes you prepare at La Mère? C: The cuisine here is Indian, Middle Eastern, Arabian and Mediterranean. I like a lot of different cuisines and I like to experiment with food. When I opened the restaurant, there was nothing like this in Valletta, and I thought it would be a nice mix. Not everyone enjoys Indian food, but here a group of diners with different tastes can enjoy a meal at the same table. SBS: What do you cook when you are at home? C: It’s quite difficult for me, because I did not cook at home for about four or five years. I started cooking two months ago for my girl-

friend after work. I cook everything, curries, Arabian dishes, everything. SBS: Do you find yourself eating a lot at La Mère? C: Yes, I used to eat a lot at La Mère before, but stopped because I’m eating with my girlfriend at home now. When I cook at home, it’s a lot different, because it’s quiet with a bit of music in the background and I’m relaxed. When I’m here, I need to cook for so many people. You have to give your heart to the food in both situations, but at home it’s more relaxing. SBS: Do you play music when you are cooking at La Mère? C: No, no no. You have to maintain concentration and be able to communicate with the staff. You can’t have any music because then communication will be zero. SBS: How did La Mère originate? C: I used to work at some restaurants in St. Julian’s before opening La Mère. My brother and I took over this restaurant six years ago and we managed the restaurant on a parttime basis in the evenings only. After a while, I decided to open for lunch as well, because Valletta gets busy during lunch time, so I stopped working in St Julian’s to focus on this restaurant. SBS: Was it difficult to start the business? C: Not only to start, but to operate the business as well. I think it’s more difficult to operate it than it was to start it. On a day-to-day basis you need customers to bring in business, so you can pay wages, suppliers, and other bills. I have to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week. SBS: How did you attract customers to La Mère? C: My girlfriend started marketing the restaurant on Facebook, in local papers and magazines as well. For the first year it was very difficult, we had to start building our customer base. SBS: Why did you choose Valletta as the home for La Mère? C: You know what? I didn’t have any location in mind. I just read that there was a restaurant to let in the classifieds. It met the budget that I had in mind and it was in Valletta. I’m very happy that it was in Valletta because business in Valletta is getting better every year. I remember when I first started: Valletta wasn’t as busy as it is now in the evenings. People come here because there

are a lot of activities like live music. Valletta is becoming very lively. SBS: You have a large customer base now. How did it change from trying to find customers to advanced booking? C: All restaurant owners have to be careful and treat their customers very well. They have to give them good quality food and service. That is the important thing. People will come again and again and word of mouth will spread. SBS: Do you plan to expand the restaurant? C: No. I want to stay small, because like this I’m in control of everything. When you have a big restaurant, you are leaving the service up to the staff. Customers like the approach of meeting the owners. If you are in a big restaurant, sometimes staff just deliver the food and don’t have charisma. SBS: How diverse are your patrons? C: We have a mixed clientele Indians, Arabs, North Americans, Australians. We have a lot of local customers, but being in Valletta, we have a lot of tourists, especially repeat tourists, which is important. We see some customers on holiday two to three times.

At first it’s a bit difficult to try something different, but sometimes you have to be adventurous. SBS: What is your favourite dish to make? C: Mela, I like to make a lot of tagines from the North African cuisine. It’s like a stew which is cooked in a clay pot. The lid is cone shaped. SBS: What is the most requested item on the menu? C: The Chicken Tikka Masala, because it’s all around the world. But we also have Thali, an Indian plate that consists of two curries, salad, papadom, pickle, raita, and dhal. I introduced it to the customers to show how some people eat in India. People like it, because in that way they are exploring India. SBS: Does La Mère promote multiculturalism through food?

1) Baba Ganoush - (An Arabic appetiser made with aubergine)

2) Hummus - (A Middle Eastern and Arabic spread made with chickpeas)

3) Shawarma Chicken with lamb kofta, Fattoush Salad, and potatoes seasoned with garlic, coriander and cumin.

4) Thali (Plate) with Chicken Tikka Masala, beef Madras, Pilau rice, Raita, Dhal, mixed pickle, salad and Papadum. 5) For dessert - Kulfi, (an Indian frozen dairy dessert which can be made with various flavours) and Baklava (a Central Asian sweet pastry made of filo pastry filled with nuts and syrup or honey)

After the meal we sat down with Chef Sharona to discuss a bit about himself and his role at La Mère. Side by Side: Where are you from? Sharona: Chennai, India, near Puducherry (on the South East coast of India). SBS: What is it like working at La Mère? Sh: It’s like family here. I’ve been working here for four and a half years and I like working here. It’s good for me. SBS: Why did you decide to become a chef? Sh: I like to cook. My mother used to cook at home. She inspired me. I studied at a college in Chennai, worked and gained some experience, and then I came here (to Malta) and became a chef. SBS: What influences the dishes that you prepare? Sh: Home, India, South India. SBS: What do you cook at home? Sh: I don’t cook at home. I eat lunch and dinner here (he says laughing as if it’s an inside joke) SBS: If you had the time to cook at home, what would you cook? Sh: I like pastas, and rib eye. I like Mediterranean food. SBS: What kind of music do you listen to?

Sh: I like to listen to Tamil music. (Tamil is a language spoken predominately in South India. It is a national language of Sri Lanka and an official language of Singapore). SBS: What is your favourite dish to cook? Sh: Lamb curries and lamb madras. I also like to cook fish. SBS: What is the most ordered dish on the menu? Sh: When it comes to Indian, it’s Chicken Tikka Masala. When it comes to Arabic, it’s Shawarma. SBS: What has changed for you since you started working at Le Mère four and a half years ago? Sh: I gained a lot of experience. I’ve learned about Mediterranean, Arabic, and traditional Maltese food. Before I came here, I only knew Indian food. SBS: What led you to Malta? Sh: My brother is working in Dubai, and his friend was working in a restaurant (in Malta), so I contacted him and came here. SBS: How do you find Malta? Sh: I like Malta very much. I like the people, the summer, and the beach.


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November 2013

Useful Government Departments for TCNs Business First - Planning, Starting, Running, Growing, Closing, and Online services for business

www.businessfirst.com.mt/en Malta Enterprise Corporation Malta Industrial Parks LTD Gwardamangia Hill Pieta MEC 0001 Telephone: 2542 0000

Commissioner for Children - To Promote the welfare of children and the compliance with the UN Convention on the rights of the child and other international treaties, conventions or agreements relating to children as ratified or acceded to by Malta.

www.tfal.org.mt 16/18 Tower Promenade Santa Lucia SLC 1019 Telephone: 2148 5180

Customs - Excise Goods, Travelers Cash Declaration, Importing Live Animals, Transfer for Residence

www.customs.gov.mt Customs House Lascaris Wharf Valletta VLT 1920 Telephone: 2568 5000

Depar tment of Information - Government Policy, Ser vices and Activities, mat ters of public interest, Government Information Ser vice, Media Monitoring Unit, Media Relations, Photographic Ser vices, Photography Archives, Press Registr y, Sales of fice (Government Publications), Video Production

Local Enforcement System (LES) - Enforcement related to: Trading Licenses, Littering, Traffic, Smoking Restrictions, Building and Spatial Planning, Building Permits Enforcement and Status Reporting, Other Traffic related functions Local Councils - Department for Local Government

www.les.gov.mt The Registrar PO BOX 62 Victoria, Gozo Telephone: 2331 8900

www.lc.gov.mt

Malta Culture (Malta Council for Culture and The Arts) - Festivals, Cultural Events and Tours, Arts Festival, Carnival, Ghanafest - Malta Mediterranean Folk Music Festival, Malta Jazz Festival, Notte Bianca

www.maltaculture.com 230 Republic Street Valletta VLT 1116 Telephone: 2123 2515

Malta Enterprise - Promoting and Facilitating International Investment in Malta

www.maltaenterprise.com/en Malta Industrial Parks LTD Gwardamangia Hill Pieta MEC 0001 Telephone: 2542 0000

www.gov.mt/en/government/doi 3, Castille Place Valletta VLT 2000 Telephone: 2200 1700

Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) - Regulates Natural and Cultural Environmental aspects of Malta: Air, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Emissions, Environmental Health, Genetically Modified Organisms and Biosafety, Heritage, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Ionizing Radiation, Noise, Planning, Sevesco (Chemical Accidents), Soil, Sustainable Development, Waste, Water

www.mepa.org.mt P.O. Box 200 Marsa MRS 1000 Telephone: 2290 0000

Employment and Training Corporation - Job Vacancies, Training, Apprenticeships, Foreign Nationals Seeking Employment, Youth Employment Programme, Persons in Disadvantaged Situations, Child Care Subsidy Scheme, Start your own Business

www.etc.gov.mt (Registration Unit) 72 Melita Street Valletta Telephone: 2395 3141

Malta Qualifications Council - Quality Assurance and Accreditation, Classifying and validating informal and non-formal learning. Awards and Qualifications, National Database of Qualifications

www.mqc.gov.mt Bice Mizzi Vassallo School Alamein Road Pembroke Telephone: 2180 1411 / 2754 0051

European Job Search Service - Jobs and learning opportunities in other European Countries

www.eures.com.mt Employment and Training Corporation Hal Far BBG 3000 Telephone: 2220 1203

MEUSAC (Malta EU Steering & Action Committee) Influences EU legislation and policy, Providing Malta’s positions within the EU and its institutions, Stimulate national debate on European ideals, values, objectives and long term strategies.

www.meusac.gov.mt 280 Republic Street Valletta VLT 1112 Telephone: 2200 3329

Evening Courses - Languages, Mathematical, Science and Technological Competence, Digital Competence, Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship, Social and Civic Competencies, Vocational Education and Training, Family Learning, Cultural Awareness and Expression: Art, Cultural Awareness and Expression: Dance and Drama, Cultural Awareness and Expression: Voice and Music

www.eveningcourses.gov.mt Ministry of Education and Employment Floriana FRN 1810 Telephone: 2598 2444

Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Authentication of Documents, Traveling to Malta, Scholarships, Residence, Citizenship, Travel Advice,

www.mfa.gov.mt Ministry of Foreign Affairs Palazzo Pariso, Merchant Street Valletta VLT 1171 Telephone: 2124 2191

Health, Elderly and Community Care Services Healthy Living, Pharmacy Roster, Health Records, Health Encyclopedia

www.ehealth.gov.mt Palazzo Castellania 15 Merchants’ Street Valletta VLT 2000 Telephone: 2122 4071

National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) - Works towards the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of gender and family responsibilities, race/ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, and gender identity.

www.equality.gov.mt Gattard House National Road Blata l-Bajda HMR 9010 Telephone: 2590 3850

Housing Authority - Schemes for: Repairs and Improvement, First Time Buyers, Building a home, Acquiring a home, Property Exchange, Semi-Independent Living

www.housingauthority.com.mt 22 Pietro Floriani Street Floriana FRN 1060 Telephone: 2299 1000

Industrial Relations - Conditions of Employment, Industrial Tribunal, Posting of Workers in Malta, Young Persons and Minors in Employment, Report Non Compliance

www.industrialrelations.gov.mt 121 Melita Street Valletta VLT 1121 Telephone: 2122 4245

Inland Revenue - Taxes, Social Security,

www.ird.gov.mt Block 4, Vincenzo Dimech Street Floriana Telephone: 2296 2296

The Judiciary - Constitutional Court, Court of Appeal, Court of Criminal Appeal, Civil Court, Criminal Court, Court of Magistrates, Gozo Courts, Court Structure, Administration and Supplementary Staff

Passport Services

Police Reporting System

University of Malta

Youth Employment Portal

www.judiciarymalta.gov.mt

Youth Information Malta

Justice Services - Acts, Bills and Legal Notices, Judgments Online, Arbitration, Chamber of Advocates, European Directory of Notaries, European Justice Portal

www.justice.gov.mt

www.passporti.gov.mt Passport Office Evans Building Merchant Street, Valletta VLT 2000 Telephone: 2220 9100/ 8007 2386 www.pulizia.gov.mt/en-us/home.aspx Telephone: Police General Head Quarters: 21224001 Emergency: 112 www.um.edu.mt University of Malta Msida MSD 2080 Telephone: 2340 2340/ 2340 2233 www.youth.org.mt Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) Head Office Hal Far BBG 3000 Telephone: 2220 1224 www.youthinfo.gov.mt Annex to Casa Leoni St Joseph High Road Santa Venera SVR 1012 Telephone: 2258 6700


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November 2013

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kellimni.com... the online platform for YOUth

Have you ever had something that you needed to discuss with someone but you could not? Is there something that is troubling you and you don’t know how to start tackling it? Is there something that you want to share with others? Now you can… kellimni.com is a service that focuses on offering support to youths and adolescents suffering from any form of social exclusion, abuse, neglect, and/or psychological difficulties wherever they come from. kellimni.com's James Buhagiar told us “We are ready to listen

to youth and provide assistance. We encourage you to express your concerns and talk about the issues directly affecting you. You are not alone, there is someone who cares about you, and cares that your life can be free from pain and fear.” These services seek to reach out to young people who are denied or stripped of their rights – particularly young persons’ experiencing abuse or neglect, differently-abled youths; youths whose families are in crisis; adolescents who are bullied by their peers or superiors; youth with addiction problems; youths who are being discriminated against on the basis of religious, racial or sexual grounds; and children in conflict with the law. The services offered by Kellimni.com are private, confidential, and free and you can choose to remain anonymous. Visit kellimni.com for more information.

Volserv, a way to integrate SOS Malta, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, run a service at Mater Dei Hospital where volunteers, recruited by VolServ, help in the daily running of the Hospital. Assisting patients and relatives whilst at the same time contributing to the local society is the best way to familiarize yourself with the Maltese culture and language and thus integrate better.

A team of around 150 volunteers includes a number of foreigners who work with patients to offer them a better overall experience whilst at the same time show part of the hospitality that Malta is renowned for. For more information visit www.sosmalta.org/volserv or send an email to volservnet@sosmalta.org or call on 21244123.

kun int li tagħmel id-differenza Volontarjat fl-isptar Mater Dei u fil-Komunità Ċemplu fuq Tel: 21 244123 jew żuru l-website www.sosmalta.org

DOWN 1. The coming together of people from different ethnic backgrounds (6, 11) 2. Civilization (7) 3. Bring up (4) 4. At a distance (4) 5. Going to another country to live over there (11) 6. Tension (6) 7. A place for shelter for those in danger because of their beliefs (6) 9. Personality (9) 10. Large bird of prey, adopted as the symbol of the US (5) 12. With a mix of people from different lands (5, 6 ) 15. Someone who works for a wage or salary (6) 16. To tell a fib (3) 19. After Christ (2) 20. People who are unfairly blamed (10) 22. Liberty (7) 24. A person of British or Northern European origins (5) 26. A circus entertainer who trains wild cats (4, 5) 27. Who a person is (8) 28. Of Scandinavian origin, a long time ago! (6) 33. Julius Caesar, for example! (5) 35. Feel deep regret for a lost thing or dead person (5) 36. To be greatly and visibly worried (4) 40. European Currency Unit (3)

ACROSS 1. Communication among people of different origins (4, 9) 8. Travel permits (7) 11. Becoming the spouse of a foreigner (13) 13. Winged creature living in heaven (5) 14. Opposite of imaginary (4) 16. Vast (5, 5) 17. Notion or theory (4) 18. _ _ _ and drink! (3) 21. Something which is not the same (10) 23. Clothing (4) 25. Lands belonging to a mother country (7) 29. Member of Germanic people who conquered parts of England in 500-600 AD (5) 30. A man-eating giant or terrifying person (4) 31. Short for telephone number (3) 32. Either..._ _ (2) 34. A settler in a foreign country (9) 37. Opposite of ‘off’ (2) 38. 1066 and all that! (6) 39. People sheltering from persecution (8) 41. To mix with other races (9) 42. A person’s essential qualities or character (6) Solutions in the next edition

Diary of events 29th November: True Talk - Story-in-Business Seminar by Robert McKee @ MCC, Valletta 30th Nov - 1st Dec: Malta Comic Con Events to be held in December 2013 1st December: Patches Market (arts & crafts market) @ Pinto Wharf, Valletta 1st December: Britten on Film: ‘At the G.P.O. and Beyond’ @ St. James Cavalier, Valletta 1st December: Nt Live presents The Habit of Art (Encore) @ St. James Cavalier, Valletta 8th December: Feast of the Immaculate Conception > Public Holiday 12th December: Public Lecture by Martin Morana ‘Bejn Kliem u Storja’, a study linking Maltese words with the island’s history (Monthly lectures by DIN L-ART ĦELWA) @ Melita Street, Valletta 12th December: The Nutcracker - Live from the Royal Opera House (DANCE) @ Eden Cinemas, St. Julians 13th December: Republic Day > Public Holiday

14th December: MET Opera - Falstaff Verdi @St. James Cavalier 18th December: Parsifal - Live from the Royal Opera House (MUSIC) @ Eden Cinemas, St. Julians 25th December: Christmas Day 27th December: Sleeping Beauty - Live from the Bolshoi Theatre (DANCE) @ Eden Cinemas, St. Julians 29th December: In Guardia Parade > Military reenactment @ Birgu Events to be held in January 2014 1st January: New Year’s Day > Public Holiday 9th January: Public lecture by Professor Robert Ghirlando: ‘Industrial Heritage in Malta’ (Monthly lectures by DIN L-ART ĦELWA) @ Melita Street, Valletta 10th - 26th January: Valletta International Baroque festival @ Manoel Theatre 19th January: Jewels - Live from the Bolshoi Theatre @ Eden Cinemas, St. Julians

International PACI Day Qawra Access Centre 12 December 2013

Martin Chetcuti As part of the efforts conducted by the Qawra Access Centre to facilitate an integration process within the community of San Pawl il-Baħar, the management of the centre is teaming up with a number of residents coming from different nationalities to organise an event where the value of UNITY will be promoted through active participation. This event is going to take place on Thursday 12 December at the Qawra Access Centre. During the past months, as part of the remit of the centre to address the needs of the community, a working group was set up by the Qawra Access Manager to focus on the needs of foreign residents living within the community of San Pawl il-Baħar. This working group which was entitled PACI Working Group is one of the five which are being set up to address the particular needs of various target audiences within the locality. Through this empowerment process residents are actively being engaged to identify the needs of their respective community and come up with initiatives to address these needs. The International Christmas Celebration is in fact one of the initiative which is being organised by the PACI Working Group and the Qawra Access Centre. Through this celebration a number of people coming from different nationalities will be celebrating the festive season whilst promoting their respective cultures. This promotion will be taking place through the setting up of traditional stands from

different countries and through the organisation of a programme which will be organised with the direct participation of different artists from various countries. Through this process we aim to provide a concrete base where residents from various backgrounds will have the opportunity to mix and get to know others in an informal environment. Through this activity Qawra Access Centre and PACI Working Group also aims to collect funds in aid of ISTRINA 2013. Through this initiative the participants will also be contributing in the help which will be given to those in need. This is in fact another concrete initiative where people coming from different backgrounds will be uniting to work towards a common aim, that of helping those who need assistance. Active participation is a key element within the community which need to be supported as through such an attitude we can build a better society for our own benefit and for the benefit of those living with us. For this purpose Qawra Access Centre is constantly embarking on similar initiatives which provides space for various target audiences to take the active role whilst constructively give feedback which could be transformed in concrete action. Further information about the work which is being conducted by the centre may be obtained from the Qawra Access Centre Facebook Page. Updates about the International Christmas Celebration event and other initiatives are posted regularly. One may also contact the Qawra Access Manager by sending an e-mail on martin.chetcuti@gov.mt.


12

November 2013

From Harlequin to Queen Vulgaria: How Pantomime came to Malta women were not permitted to perform on stage. In the early 19th century, comic Dames (roles played by men) emerged on stage, evolving through, and eventually taking off towards the end of the century. Dames came in many characters and were not limited to working class and the ordinary, glamorous and snobbish, or grotesque or elegant. Dames have consistently had a racy sense of humor, extravagant and overstated costumes, and an extroverted demeanor. Pantomime Dames play tricks on other characters, perpetrate chase scenes, and break the ‘4th wall’ by interacting with the audience. Their costumes play an essential part in jokes and visual puns. Some pantomime stories were derived from English folk From "The Curse of Snow White" produced by Masquerade tales or ballads such as RobPhoto © 2012 Francesca Rizzo inson Crusoe, Robin Hood, and St George and the Dragon. Harlequin was a magical character Jasen Ogle Others come from France such as who was featured in acrobatic and Goldilocks and the Three Bears, energetic chase scenes. The HarEarly Pantomime was develand a version of Cinderella. Some lequin was the star of the English oped from “Commedia dell’arte,” of the best known pantomimes pantomime for over 150 years. a type of traveling street theatre come from the book “The Arabian The foundation for the Harlefrom 16th century Italy. This type Nights” which includes Ali Baba quinades remains; a chase scene of theatre is very physical, integratand the Forty Thieves, Aladdin, and featuring Harlequin and Columing dance, music, tumbling, acroSinbad the Sailor. bine where the lovers are divided batics and buffoonery. Commedia In the Victorian era, pantoby the lady love’s father (Pantaldell’arte spread across Europe and mimes traditionally opened on Boxone), whose servants play tricks on became popular in England towards ing Day (December 26th, the day him. The lovers are chased by Panthe middle of the 17th century. following Christmas Day) and were talone and his servant (a Clown). Similar to Pantomime, Comassociated with children and ChristThe chase scenes would take the media dell’arte consists of stock mas. At times there would be two characters through locations the characters with unique moveperformances, one in the afternoon audience would recognise, as well ments, characteristic speech, and one in the evening. The Christas exotic and mythical locations. props, costumes and gestures that mas pantomimes often included In the 18th century audiences represent each character. Characchildren from working class families. began to see women dressing as ters included the old man (PantalThese children were disciplined and men on stage in roles known as one), naughty servants, a lover (Aroften worked long into the night. “breeches parts.” By the 1880s the lecchino - a servant) and his lady Serving as a British military hero male roles were played by love (Columbine - servant girl), base since the signing of the Treaty women. At the same time, the long and of course, a clown. of Paris, it was only a matter of time tradition of women’s roles played by These characters began to before the English Pantomime men continued in English theatre. show up in English pantomimes reached Malta’s shores. The first In the time of William Shakespeare, in the 1700s called Harlequinades.

production of a Pantomime play was “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp” which ran for two weeks in January 1911 at the Manoel Theatre. It was the first production for the Malta Amateur Dramatic Club, formed in October 1910 through the efforts of Major C. Todd of the Army Pay Corp. Major Todd appeared as the “Evil Spirit” as well as in other roles throughout the show. Forty years later, the MADC returned with the production of “Sinbad the Sailor” at the Knights hall. The Royal Air Force Ariel Players were successfully producing British pantomime at the Manoel Theatre in the 1970s reaching its peak in 1978. MADC inherited the task of continuing the tradition of pantomime from the RAF Ariel Players and staged Cinderella at the Manoel Theatre in 1978. MADC has continued the tradition of presenting a Christmas pantomime since Cinderella, but a defining moment for pantomime in Malta came in 1983 with the production of Puss in Boots. The script writer of that Christmas pantomime created Queen Vulgaria, a “Maltese - nouveau riche, social climber ‘hamalla’” from Sliema. ‘Hamalla’ is a Maltese pejorative word meaning a woman of low social standing with poor taste and little etiquette. Queen Vulgaria was a parody of a typical ‘hamalla’ from Sliema, whose language included a mixture of broken English and ‘SlieMaltese,’ a sort of dialect of Maltese rooted in Sliema. This dame became the foundation for future socially awkward and bawdy dames to come. In the 35 years since the Ariel Players passed the torch, pantomime in Malta has been the reflection of a prism of extravagant, flamboyant, and over the top sets,

costumes, musical numbers and characters. Moving from the Manoel Theatre to MFCC Ta Qali, the Christmas pantomime has become much grander and more exaggerated than in previous years. Preparations for this year’s pantomime are underway and guaranteed to continue the legacy of buffoonery, song, dance, and magic. “Little Red Riding Hood and You know who” is produced by Masquerade at the Manoel Theatre from 21st December to 5th January This year, Malcom Galea pens his 4th Panto for Masquerade. He will be playing the Dame. Anthony Bezzina produces and directs the show whilst Kevin Abela is the Musical Director. The story follows the adventure of Little Red Riding Hood, as what starts off as a simple errand, soon becomes a deadly adventure by the light of the full moon. Rupunzelstiltskin is produced by MADC at MFCC from 21st December to 5th January Steve Hili has cunningly combined fairytales Rapunzel and Rumplestiltskin for MADC. Rupunzelstiltskin is under the direction of Steve Casaletto with assistance by musical director Paul Abela, vocal coach Roger Tirazona, set designer Peter Howitt, and choreographer Kristina Schranz. Jean-Pierre Busuttil will be playing the Dame. The story follows Rapunzel as she tries to worm her way out of trouble caused by her uncontrollable loose cannon of a mother.

Will’s Friends Pay it Forward Jasen Ogle If you are new to Malta and trying to find your way around, or are looking to make new friends, one great way to do that is to join an expat group. There are several expat groups in Malta which plan outings for people to get to know

Malta is a meeting point for culture each other, as well as help newcomers adjust to life in Malta. Most of these groups have Facebook pages with photos of past events and announcements of new outings. One such group goes beyond outings. Will’s Friends Expat Group is one of many Malta based expat groups that organises expat events; however, this group is not just for socialising. The group helps expats with CV writing, applying for jobs, school and government applications, starting a business, and networking. “I want people who join Will’s friends to feel like family,” says group founder known

just as ‘Will.’ A home in Sliema also serves as a meeting point for members. It has a library where members can borrow or contribute books and DVDs to the collection. There is an online documentation unit on the Facebook page, which Will says is a database of everything an expat needs or would want to know about Malta. The group’s Facebook page has over 1000 members with between 70 to 80 people in attendance per average event, and 100 to 200 per large event. “Our goal is sharing life together,” will says. Although that may seem as too large of number of people for everyone to get to know each other, he believes that has not been a problem. “The group is beyond events, we know about each other’s personal lives. We know who is sick, travelling, and in love. We aren’t just a regular group.” Will is a protective big-brother in the group. “I try to keep those who have an agenda away,” Will says. Whenever he notices that people join the group

just to try and ‘hook up’ with members or try and sell them something, he banishes them from the group and politely requests that they do not turn up to any future events. “Malta is a meeting point for culture. It was always a bridge and Will’s Friends’ is a bridge within a

Patient, hardworking and open-hearted people can conquer the world bridge,” he says. The group gets together regularly for cooking class, cinema club, and book club. They interviewed Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of the best-selling book, Pay it Forward via Skype chat. Last year, the group raised money to purchase items on a Christmas wish list for the children of Angela House. Angela house is an orphanage in Pieta run by the Ursuline Sisters of Malta. “We are not a charity group, but if we can help, why not,” Will says. “I can’t change the world,

but can change the world around me.” This year, the group has started an Everyday is Christmas campaign within the group to raise funds and recruit volunteers to fix the leaking roof at Angela House. One member of the group, a professional in construction, is volunteering to lead the project to repair the roof. Angela House needs 8,000 Euros for materials. The campaign has been running from the 7th of September and will be completed on the 21st of December. They are inviting three other or-

phanages to Angela house to create a Christmas wish list for the children and a needs list for the Sisters. On the 21st of December, there will be a party for the children. Members of the expat group will give out the items on the list. All of the donations for the repair project and Christmas lists will go to Angela’s House. “I feel good when people are happy around us,” Will says. “Patient, hardworking and open-hearted people can conquer the world.”


13

November 2013

Mixja Trevor Żahra It-tabib iffissa għajnejh f’għajnejja. “Inutli toqgħod tiġi għandi għallvisti,” qalli. “Jekk m’intix se ddaħħalha f’rasek li tibda tagħmel mixja, imqar ta’ nofs siegħa kuljum, m’għandekx għalfejn tersaq lil hawn!” U mal-kelmiet poġġa l-apparat tal-pressjoni f’postu u ma riedx iżommli flus. Mill-għada stess bdejt immur għall-mixja li ordnali ... u hekk bqajt għaddej għal dawn l-aħħar sitt xhur. Mas-sitta ta’ filgħodu nerħilha nterraq tul il-promenad ta’ mal-baħar; u erħili nixrob l-istilel tax-xemx fuq ras iċċafċifa, insoff it-togħma tal-grottli li bħali jkunu ħerġin għad-dawra tal-plajja u nduq ir-rumba tal-mewġ jirrombla fuq ix-xtajta. Iżda mhux biss. Bis-saħħa ta’ dil-mixja għamilt ħafna ħbieb ... ħbieb li ma nafhomx; li qatt ma kellimthom u li qajla jsellmuli. Imma sirna midħla sewwa. Hemm żewġt irġiel li niltaqa’ magħhom tista’ tgħid dejjem fl-istess post: hekk kif niskorri l-vilel u jibdew il-flettijiet. Żewġt irġiel mezza età li tismagħhom ġejjin jargumentaw minn erba’ kantunieri bogħod. Dejjem janalizzaw il-qagħda taddinja skont l-aħbarijiet tal-mument: l-irvellijiet fl-Eġittu wara l-arrest tal-President Mohammed Morsi, ilkraxx tal-ferrovija fis-sud ta’ Pariġi ... u tul Ġunju kollu kliemhom kien biss dwar il-festa ta’ Santa Katerina, li l-kurja ħassret sfaċċatament u li ħtija ta’ dan għal ftit ma faqqgħetx gwerra ċivili. It-tnejn jitkellmu f’daqqa u meta jgħadduni nibqa’ nismagħhom jitmasħnu sa ma l-irvellijiet talEġittu jitħalltu mat-tektik tal-frejgatina li dieħla tittrakka mal-moll u fid-dinja terġa’ ssaltan il-paċi. Imbagħad hemm ġuvni li dejjem iħares bl-ikrah. L-ewwel darba li rajtu jiċċassa lejja ppruvajt insellimlu. Imma minnufih dawwar ħarsu lejn il-baħar u kompla joffendi l-mewġ; donnu din il-mixja qed jagħmilha bħala penitenza jew minħabba xi wegħda.

Hemm ukoll il-Pendli. Hekk laqqamthom lil dawk li minflok ibandlu dirgħajhom minn quddiem għal wara, kif jagħmlu s-suldati, ibandluhom mil-lemin għax-xellug ... bħall-pendlu ta’ grandfather clock. Hemm mara li tant tbandalhom bilgoff li tistħajjilha ġejja taħbat għalik u tmiegħkek mal-art. Iżda l-aktar li togħġobni hija t-tfajla tal-warrani sabiħ. Qatt ma stajt nara wiċċha sewwa għax dejjem tiġi minn warajja, tiġġoggja u taqbeż b’pass ta’ għażżiela. Nilħaq naralha biss il-warrani, ċkejken, ittundjat u perfett, jiċċaqlaq malpass qabbieżi tagħha u jaċċertani li l-ħġejjeġ ta’ żgħożiti għadhom ma ntfewx. Imma qatt ma tħallini ngawdih daqskemm nixtieq; f’sekonda lwarrani jibda jiċkien u jiċċajpar u jsir ħaġa waħda

mas-siġar tal-palm u t-tamarisk talpromenad. Imma mhux dan li kelli f’moħħi meta nxħitt nikteb. Xtaqt nitkellem dwar iz-ziju Frenċ. Niltaqa’ miegħu meta nkun għamilt il-mixja kollha u dort lura. Għammidtu

ziju Frenċ, għax xebbaħtu maz-ziju t’ommi, li minkejja li meta miet, jien mhux żgur kelli sitt snin, wiċċu għadu stampat ġo moħħi. Dan izziju Frenċ il-ġdid naqtgħu xiħ sewwa, jimxi bil-lajma u milwi kemxejn fuq ix-xellug, dejjem iħares lejn ix-xefaq, waqt li jiġbed warajh kelb tal-kaċċa xiħ aktar minnu. L-ewwel darba li lmaħtu kważi ħarbitli tbissma. Ma stajtx nifhem għalfejn kien jorbtu biċċinga meta dak l-imsejken kelb bil-kemm kellu saħħa jimxi ... aħseb u ara jaħrab. In-nies li joħorġu għall-mixja kwotidjana kienu x’aktarx kollha jimxu b’pass ħafif, għax jemmnu li biex l-eżerċizzju jkun effettiv jeħtieġ li tħossok tegħja u jxoqqlok l-għaraq. Imma zziju Frenċ kien jimxi jfekren, mhux biss għax saħħtu ma kinitx tagħtih, imma għax mid-dehra kien dera jieħu l-ħajja bl-akbar kalma. Elf darba ttantajt niġbidlu ħarstu u nsellimu. Imma qatt ma induna bija. Ħarsu dejjem fil-bogħod ... lejn il-baħar. Ġieli rajtu jagħti titwila lill-kelb jilheġ warajh u jgħidlu xi ħaġa minn taħt l-ilsien. Liż-żewġt irġiel li jitkellmu jgħajtu ġieli ma nzertajthomx. U anki lillġuvni li jħares bl-

ikrah u fit-tfajla tal-warrani divin. Imma z-ziju Frenċ qatt ma fallieli. Darba waqaft ħdejh taparsi qed niċċekkja l-mobile bit-tama li jħares lejja u jsellimli. Imma għalih stajt kont fantażma. Xtaqt inkun naf min kien, x’jismu, fejn kien joqgħod, x’kien jagħmel f’żgħożitu, x’kien jismu l-kelb. Xtaqt nurih li kien jimpurtani minnu; li kont inġbidt lejh aktar miz-ziju Frenċ l-oriġinal, li bilkemm kont nafu. Ma stajtx nifhem l-għaliex xtaqt dan kollu. Aktar ma niltaqa’ miegħu aktar beda jintrigani. U sa fl-aħħar xewqti qtajtha. Għodwa waħda, minflok miexi bilpass tas-soltu, ilmaħtu bil-qiegħda fuq bank. “Sħana wisq illum, sieħbi!” għidtlu hekk kif waqaft ħdejh taparsi nixxotta l-għaraq. Għolla ħarstu lejja qisu qed jarani għall-ewwel darba. Ħbub għajnejh kienu lewn il-luzzijiet talbajja. Intlaqt bil-qiegħda maġenbu. “Awwissu lanqas jaħmel lilu nnifsu,” qalli minn taħt l-ilsien. Ma stennejtx leħen daqshekk melliesi. “Tassew nammirak, narak hekk... ma taqtax qalbek minn mixja,” erġajt għidtlu. “Naħseb qbiżthom sewwa s-sebgħin, ħabib.” Dam biċċa sewwa ma weġibni u ħsibtu tfantas bil-mistoqsija tiegħi. Imma bil-mod il-mod dawwar l-ikħal t’għajnejh lejja u qalli: “Sitta u tmenin magħluqa!” “Alla jbierek...!” għidtlu bi tbissima kbira. Imma x-xwejjaħ ħares lejja biċċiera u qalli: “Għaliex? X’jiswa għomor twil? Taf kif qattajthom dawn l-aħħar għaxar snin? Nara l-għeżież tiegħi jmutu wieħed wieħed. Diġà dfint tnejn minn uliedi. U issa lil dan!” U fil-pront indunajt li l-kelb ma kienx miegħu. Qam bil-ħeffa u telaq jitbandal bla ma qalli saħħa jew bonġu. F’idu kellu mkebba u marsusa ċ-ċinġa mitruħa tal-kelb. Ma naħsibx li se nibqa’ mmur għal dik il-mixja ta’ kull filgħodu. U lanqas għall-visti għand it-tabib.

Kif naraw lill-barrani Dr Carmen Sammut, Senior Lecturer fil-Midja Il-midja f’pajjiżna għandhom jirriflettu s-soċjetà tagħna tal-lum u jservu ta’ għodda ħalli b’mod pożittiv nadattaw għall-bidliet li qegħdin iseħħu madwarna. Il-midja għandhom ikunu opportunità biex il-barranin fostna jifhmu aħjar min aħna; isegwu dak li qed jiġri f’Malta; jitgħallmu jiddevertu u jistrieħu fl-isfond tat-tradizzjonijiet u l-kultura tagħna. Imma fuq kollox il-midja jistgħu jgħinu biex ikollna għarfien aħjar dwar liema huma l-komunitajiet internazzjonali f’artna; liema huma t-tradizzjonijiet tagħhom; liema huma l-isfidi li qegħdin isibu biex iħossuhom komdi fostna. Hemm min jgħid: “imma aħna ma rridux li jħossuhom komdi fostna!” Naħseb li din hija perspettiva perikoluża li ‘l quddiem tista’ tqanqal tensjonijiet; l-aktar meta t-tfal “tal-oħrajn”, jew imnissla minnhom, jibdew iħossuhom emarġinati. Hija perspettiva limitata u mijopika għaliex aħna l-Maltin la qatt konna u lanqas qatt nistgħu nkunu xi ‘razza pura’. Fil-midja l-barranin jidhru ftit li xejn fi rwoli pożittivi. Narawhom l-aktar meta jaslu l-immigranti irregolari fuq xi dgħajsa bil-“klandestini”, jew meta fil-qorti jidher akkużat xi “raġel ta’ nazzjonalità Għarbija” … jew meta jittellgħu xi nisa Russi in konnessjoni mal-industrija tas-sess. Ftit li xejn

għandna midja li jirrikonoxxu li fostna hawn komunitajiet imdaqqsa u li dawn qegħdin jagħtu kontribut pożittiv. Kemm hawn min jagħraf is-sehem li qegħdin jagħtu infermiera u care workers Filippini fl-isptarijiet u anke fil-komunitajiet u fid-djar tal-anzjani? Kemm hemm min fehem it-twissija tal-Ministru tal-Finanzi Malti li biex l-ekonomija tagħna tespandi għandna bżonn il-kontribut ta’ 70 elf ħaddiem ieħor? Waqt li l-midja b’ħeġġa jaċċettaw il-flus biex jirreklamaw xi wieħed mill-erbgħin (40) ristorant Ċiniż li għandna f’pajjiżna; kemm minnhom jitkellmu dwar l-isfidi tal-komunità Ċiniża biex taddatta għall-kultura tagħna. Kemm nafu li hawn madwar 600 Ċiniż, il-parti l-kbira mpjegati ta’ Ċiniżi oħra fl-istabbilimenti tal-ikel jew studenti? Qatt jistaqsu kemm isibu diffikultajiet biex iġibu l-viża u biex jagħmlu pjani fit-tul; biex jitgħallmu l-lingwa, jinvestu, jixtru propjetà, jedukaw lil uliedhom u jinqdew mis-servizzi tas-saħħa? L-akbar xkiel għall-integrazzjoni aktarx li hija l-ġilda skura. Waqt li ħafna ma jammettux li huma razzisti, meta tismagħhom jitkellmu joħroġ kliem iebes u preġudizzji bla qies. Ħabiba tiegħi ta’ oriġini Etjopjana, iżda li tgawdi ċittadinanza Ingliża, irtirat Malta aktar minn għoxrin sena ilu. Ftit ilu osservat miegħi li għexet magħna aktar minn nofs ħajjitha tant li issa tħoss li ma tistax tħalli Malta. Dejjem ippruvat tintegra kemm tista’ speċjalment bl-involvi-

ment tagħha f’għaqdiet reliġjużi, fejn jilqgħuha tajjeb. Iżda l-mewġa ta’ razziżmu li bħal donnha żdieded fl-aħħar snin, meta n-nies bdew iħossuhom ‘assedjati’ bl-immigranti, jidher li bidlet l-esperjenza ta’ ħajjitha fil-gżira tagħna. Hija mara ġentili u diċenti wisq biex tilmenta, imma jien inħoss l-għafsa f’qalbha għax mas-snin ħajjitha saret aktar diffiċli. Ħafna ma jarawx bniedma b’sentimenti sbieħ u ġenerożità bla qies, iżda jaslu biss sal-qoxra sewda li ddarrashom. Wieħed irid jistaqsi x’se jiġri meta minn hawn u ftit ieħor meta jitfarfru t-tfal tal-immigranti li twieldu hawn? Jew x’jiġri meta jikbru t-tfal addottati u l-eluf ta’ tfal li għandhom ġenituri b’nazzjonalità differenti? Il-midja kif jistgħu jikkontribwixxu biex naqdu l-ħtiġijiet ta’ dawn l-individwi u komunitajiet ġodda? Il-ġilda u l-oriġini tal-ġenituri kemm qed tħalli effett fuq l-esperjenza edukattiva tat-tfal u fuq ilprospetti tagħhom għall-ħajja u l-avvanz tal-karriera? Waqt li l-midja jistgħu jgħinuna biex niċċelebraw id-diversità, għandhom iżommu għajnejhom miftuħin għal dawn l-iżviluppi li semmejt biex meta s-soċjetà tonqos, tuża xi forma ta’ vjolenza kontra gruppi ta’ minoranza jew temarġinahom, ixandru dawn in-nuqqasijiet mal-erbat irjiħat u jesiġu li ssir ġustizzja. Hekk kif jiżdiedu l-komunitajiet u jiksbu sehem akbar fis-soċjetà ċivili, għandhom ukoll jingħataw ċans akbar biex ‘issues’ li jolqtuhom jidhru fuq l-aġenda nazzjonali.


14

November 2013

Andrew Chetcuti: Feeling At Home Abroad Jasen Ogle Side by Side: How old are you? Andrew: 21 SBS: Where are you originally from? A: I was born in Malta, but I lived there for only two years. We moved to Dubai around 1994. I lived there until I was 18. Mom had lived in Canada for many years, until after college she moved to Malta where she met my dad.

My dad is a big inspiration because of what he has accomplished SBS: What was it like growing up in Dubai? A: I loved it, though it was a really protected lifestyle. You would think it’s associated with the problems that are going on in the Middle East, but it’s very Western, so moving to the US was a smooth transition. I participated in all types of sports; karate, football and tennis. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about Dubai. It was so culturally diverse, but easy to fit in. My friends were from South Africa, American, India, and other parts of the world. Living in this multicultural society was very nice. SBS: Do you speak other languages? A: I understand a bit of Maltese, but I get a bit uncomfortable when speaking to those outside my family. I can read Arabic, but I can’t understand it; meaning I can pronounce the words, but I don’t know the meaning. I can also find my way around France if necessary. SBS: What are you studying? A: I’m studying Pre-medical Biology. I’m in third year at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia (USA). SBS: What made you decide to go to school in the United States? A: Swimming was a big part of it, but it was a combination of athletics and academics. I like that I was free to decide what I wanted to study while at university instead of having to stick with one course from start to finish. I knew I had to leave Dubai to pursue swimming. The States are the place to be for competitive swimming. I also received a scholarship offer to attend Georgia Tech. SBS: What about Georgia Tech attracted you? A: The combination of athletics and academics was perfect for me. My coach is Courtney Hart, two time

gold medal Olympian. The pool that we train in was the 1996 Summer Olympics swimming pool. SBS: What are some things about the US that surprised or shocked you? A: The one major difference was the public behaviour between men and women. I was shocked at how open public displays of affection are in the US. I was also surprised at how

I like being able to say that I’m foreign, it makes me feel exotic friendly Southerners are. SBS: Do you miss anything from Malta? A: I miss it a lot, but I feel closed in there, so I couldn’t live there. I go back every summer because my nanna and nannu are there. I have about 14 or 15 cousins there too. There’s no place I want to be in the summer but in Malta. SBS: Are you able to keep in touch with friends and family often? A: Yes. My friends from Dubai are in a Facebook group that we use to keep in touch. I’ll see them soon this coming Christmas. I’m always on Skype with my family, and they can come to visit me a lot because of my dad’s job as a pilot. SBS: Do you feel like an outsider or do you feel just like everyone else? A: I was definitely classified as a for-

eigner when I came, but not in a bad way. Now I wouldn’t say I’m considered any different. Lots of my American friends here have never left the US, so that was shocking for me. Fourteen of my teammates come from different nations, though. I’m completely integrated within the team and the people here. I like being able to say that I’m foreign, it makes me feel exotic. SBS: Is it easy to fit in? A: I’m a shy person so it took a lot for me to warm up to people. I was homesick for the first month-and-ahalf. I didn’t want to see anyone, but I spoke with my coach who helped me get settled. I forced myself to hang out with the team. Eventually, I got over being shy, but I get homesick very easily. SBS: Do you socialise mostly with locals, international students or a mixture? A: It is a mixture, because I socialise mostly with the guys and girls on the team. My best friend here is originally from Taiwan, but lived in Oklahoma. My roommate is from Switzerland, and another of my team mates is from Savannah, Georgia. SBS: Have you met any other Maltese in America? A: No; not one, apart from family in Michigan. SBS: How often do you train? A: We do nine swims and three lifting sessions a week. We incorporated the Navy Seal Fitness Challenge which is very competitive with the guys. It involves a lot of shouting; it’s tough, but really good. SBS: Do you keep a workout routine in the offseason? A: Yes, for sure. For this year I only took two days off from training. I came back to Malta and some friends from the team came to visit, but we kept training while they were here. SBS: Can you see yourself permanently living in the US? A: It’s an option; but I’m more likely to live in Dubai, because I like the lifestyle there. It’s easy to start a family in Dubai. I want to explore the world. I like travelling a lot, but I think I’ll go back to Dubai when I’m done. I miss my family and the relaxed lifestyle. SBS: Do you watch other sports? A: I’m always at (American) football games. The swim team is close to the

volleyball team, so we are always at those games too. SBS: What do you do in your free time? A: Swimming and homework; we get a lot of school work and Georgia Tech has the most school days in the country. I sleep after workouts and sometimes we get downtime on the weekends to relax. I have a barbeque with friends and watch games on television by the pool. We hang out a lot as a team. We go to the movies.

After graduation I plan on taking a year off to train for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio to represent Malta We’re always together. SBS: What do you hope to do with your degree when you have completed your studies? A: I hope to get into chiropractic sports therapy. After graduation I plan on taking a year off to train for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio to represent Malta. I represented Malta at the 2012 games in London. I want to go to Rio and be competitive, not just participate.

SBS: Will we see you in the next Summer Olympic Games? A: I think my chances are good to make it to Rio. I’m really broken down now because of the amount of training, but I think it’s going to pay off. It’s my goal to make it to a final or semifinal. SBS: What message do you have for our SBS Readers? A: No one here knew where Malta is. People thought it was in France. Leave Malta and explore. See what is out there. My favourite thing about swimming is how much we travel. SBS: What places have you visited? A: I’ve been to about 20 European countries. Some that I’ve been to are Slovakia, France, Holland, and Germany. I’ve also visited South Africa and China. Traveling is one of the best things I like about competing; being able to visit places where I’ve never been before. SBS: Who inspires you the most? A: My dad is a big inspiration because of what he has accomplished. I’ll admit I’m spoiled, but dad had to make it all on his own. He took care of himself. I was pampered when I was a kid, but I don’t take it for granted. I will pay them (his parents) back. Whenever I think I can’t do something, I think of my dad, and then realise I’m just whining.


15

November 2013

Malta’s Sport of Diplomats Jasen Ogle The first cricket club in Malta was established by a British officers club in 1873. Cricket reigned while the British forces protected this island fortress, but once they left, the king fell. SBS spoke with two members of the Marsa Cricket Association (MCA), which wants to see cricket thrive again in Malta. Allan Swift, originally from Manchester, England, was stationed in Malta and proudly served in the parachute regiment in the 1960s. He played for Malta for over 20 years and witnessed the decline of cricket as a popular sport in Malta. “In 1979 when the services left, a huge gap was left in Maltese cricket. Only 12 players were left,” Allan tells SBS. While the British servicemen were in Malta, several teams competed in leagues. Cricket was a predominately British sport in Malta just as it is in many of the current and former British colonies. The former colonies are now producing worldclass players ranging from Sachin Tendulkar of India to Shane Watson of Australia; from Jacques Kallis of South Africa to Tillakaratne Dilshan of Sri Lanka and from Shivnarine Chanderpaul of Guyana to Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan. Malta has even produced established cricketers such as Chris and Andrew Naudi, and Michael Caruana who works with young people and was heavily

involved in starting a local women’s team. Joydeep Ghoseroy of Kolkata, known as ‘Joy’ to his team mates, has lived in Malta for over 20 years. He plays every Saturday, and sometimes on weekdays, against visiting teams. “When I first started playing in Malta, the teams consisted mostly of British expatriates,” he tells us, but as time went by he started seeing the teams become more international with players from Pakistan, India, Australia, and South Africa. British-Maltese and Australian-Maltese joined, but there were more internationals than homegrown players. “It’s a great surprise that as a former British colony, cricket didn’t really catch on,” he says. Although cricket in Malta is not as popular as football, it is becoming less of a secret around the world that Malta is in all likelihood the best place in the world for a cricket fanatic to play. Malta can proudly boast of a year-round cricket season, something you do not see in cricket’s nesting grounds in the UK, Asia or Australia. “About 25 visiting teams come to play Malta each year,” Joydeep tells SBS. “The teams stay between two to three days, and most come from North and Eastern Europe,” he says, adding that Malta has also hosted visiting teams from Australia and New Zealand among others. “Most visiting teams come from the UK. Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has played here, and even school teams have played here - such as the team from Harrow School [in Greater London], but Malta has also played teams from France, Norway, Italy, Spain and Greece,” Allan says. Visiting teams act as ambassadors for cricket in Malta. “Teams from the UK love to play in the Maltese weather, and when they return home they spread the word of Malta’s ideal conditions for cricket,” Joydeep says. There were times during the years following the departure of

the British from the island, when the British Navy would stop in Malta and the British High Commission organised games between sailors and local clubs. “During the Bosnian war, the US Navy shipmen played cricket and baseball with the locals,” Allan recalls. The US is no stranger to cricket, having hosted the first international cricket match in 1844. Cricket is one of the only sports in Malta that regularly brings in tourists, contributing to the local economy. The islands hosted a Mediterranean cricket festival in the 1990s and last month held a tournament featuring a team each from Russia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. While Gladiator was being filmed in Malta, Maltese teams played against ‘Crowe’s Cricketing Cronies (CCC)’ also known as ‘Crowe’s XI’. The team included relatives of the Oscar Award winning film star, Russell Crowe, including Martin and Jeff Crowe (Russell’s cousins), who were both professional cricket players. CCC lost two games in a row to Maltese teams. Both Allan and Joydeep both agree that bringing the

Maltese closer to cricket is a difficult challenge. The MCA is trying to get youths involved in cricket through sessions of Kwik Cricket before each club match every Saturday. Kwik Cricket is a high-speed version, played with plastic balls and wickets, meant to encourage young children to learn cricket. “St. Edwards and De la Salle Colleges both had cricket teams,” Alan tells SBS. “If there was a public cricket ground, I’m sure that there would be more expats and locals who would want to play,” Joydeep adds. The Malta Cricket Development Academy hosts training sessions for children every Saturday morning and afternoon with children. They are also developing a women’s team and hold coaching sessions at local schools. There are adult squad training sessions on Sunday mornings and during the week.


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November 2013

"Chapel on Santa Maria ta' Bir Miftuħ" by Kevin Gatt, who won the Side by Side photo competition. The photo was taken on 26th of May 2013 The Chapel was build in the 13th Century and is located in Gudja. Photo © 2013 Kevin Gatt

Adapting to diversity and changing demographics Europe is strongly influenced by demographic changes, including ageing populations, longer life expectancy and a declining working-age population. Legal migration can help to address these issues, in addition to maximising the use of the labour force and skills already available in the EU and improving the productivity of the EU economy. Demographic trends vary from region to region and need to be addressed through tailor-made solutions. If the full benefits from migration are to be realised, Europe needs to find a way to better cope with its diverse and multicultural societies through more effective integration of migrants. The Europe 2020 Strategy fully recognises the potential of migration for building a competitive and sustainable economy and they set out, as a clear political objective, the effective integration of legal migrants. In 2011 there were 33.3 million foreign citizens resident in the EU- then with 27 member states (6.6% of the total population). The majority, 20.5 million, were citizens of non-EU countries, while the remaining 12.8 million were citizens of other EU Member States. Hence, migrants from third countries represent around 4% of the total EU population. Citizens of Romania, Turkey, Morocco, and Poland were the most numerous among migrants living in EU Member States. Some Member States, in particular Italy, the United

Kingdom and Germany, are both important destination countries and countries of origin for foreigners in the EU. This can be explained by the large total population of those Member States and the higher mobility of people within the borders of the European Union. The composition of the EU’s population is thus changing, and European societies are faced with increasing diversity. This leads to new conditions for social cohesion and government response to public concerns. Member States have confirmed their commitment to further develop the core idea of integration as a driver for economic development and social cohesion, in order to better enhance migrants’ contribution to economic growth and cultural richness. There is already a framework for EU co-operation on integration through the Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy in the European Union, which were agreed in 2004. The Principles underline that integration is a dynamic, twoway process of mutual accommodation by migrants and by the societies that receive them. With time, the social, economic and political context has changed and not all integration measures have been successful in meeting their objectives. Integration policies also require the will and commitment of migrants to be part of the society that receives them. The most pressing challenges include:

− the prevailing low employment levels of migrants, especially for migrant women, − rising unemployment and high levels of ‘over-qualification’, − increasing risks of social exclusion, − gaps in educational achievement, − public concerns with the lack of integration of migrants. A diversity of approaches is requred, depending on the different integration challenges faced by various types of migrants, both low and highly skilled. Europe needs a positive attitude towards diversity and strong guaranties of fundamental rights and equal treatment, building on the mutual respect of different cultures and traditions. Initiatives targeting especially vulnerable groups of migrants are also needed. The EU can contribute to steering and guiding Member States’ efforts via different instruments. But the European Agenda for Integration cannot be implemented through European instruments alone. Integration is a dynamic, longterm process requiring efforts by a wide range of actors in different policy areas and at various levels. This article was made available by the European Commission Representation in Malta and it is based on the European Commission’s Communication “European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals”, presented in July 2011.

  “All rights reserved.  No part of this publication covered by the copyright thereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means (graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems) without the permission of SOS Malta.” General Programme Solidarity & Management of Migration Flows 2007-2013 European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (IF) Project part-financed by the European Union Co-financing rate: 75% EU Funds: 25% Beneficiary’s Funds Sustainable Management of Migration Flows


Side by Side November 2013 Issue