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AnnaMaria Zammit Editorial Board:
Elizabeth Galea, Christine Spiteri Proofreading:
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Daniela Attard Illustrators:
Camille Felice, Liz Mallia, Bernard Micallef, Jeanelle Zammit HEAD PhotographER:
Keith Tedesco PhotograpHeR:
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Nicole Farrugia, Claire Galea, Sandro Rizzo
his month, our country, and our University, bade an emotional farewell to a great man and educator, President Emeritus Professor Guido de Marco. Those of us who had the privilege of being his students learned much about the law from him, and much more about humility, perseverance, and the importance of standing by one’s principles. “How beautiful life is,” he remarked upon leaving hospital. While his inspirational journey through it has just come to an end, many of us are newly embarking on ours. Thus, this issue of The Insiter, while paying tribute to our Professor (as Robert Thake aptly refers to him on p. 8), also takes heed of the accomplishments of some of Malta’s rising stars. After all, we have as much to learn from each other as we do from the pivotal figures in history. ‘Rewined’ is the Young Enterprise Company (p. 17) that nabbed this year’s Company of the Year Award, as well as many other prestigious prizes. The young businesspeople responsible for it revealed the secrets behind their achievements, as well as the pitfalls they encountered on their way to the top. The thrill of teamwork is an experience that they have in common with the members of the local basketball team that recently won Division C of the European Cup (a first for Malta).We also caught up with the talented and charismatic singer Gianluca Bezzina (p. 20), whose magnificent voice has captured many hearts, on campus and beyond. As children, we made wishes on shooting stars. Why have so many of us already lost that healthy sense of hope? Especially in the spirit of success, let’s take a quiet moment away from the constant bustle of this hectic world we’ve built around us and give ourselves time to be inspired; time to dream. Indeed, “one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways” (D. Handler). ■
Matthew Bonanno, Kenneth J. Vella cover:
© 2010 Insite – The Student Media Organisation. All rights reserved.
When fiction is to close for comfort
Young Achievers Whirlwind Success
in memory: Guido de Marco
insite – the student media organisation
University of Malta Msida msd 2 0 8 0
a shortcut to summer
Rita borg: at the core of students’ house
2340 3066 e-mail:
19 P’OUT! 20 interview
A Shortcut to Summer
22 instyle Correspondence:
the insiter’s surprise centre
The Insiter is published eight times a year by Insite – The Student Media Organisation and is distributed free on campus.
Guido de Marco
Santa Marija Caves, Comino
Anna Abela, Neville Bezzina, Vanni Borg, Claire Bonello, Noel Camilleri, Tamara Chetcuti, Michael “D-Bone” Debono, Andrew Galea, Elizabeth Galea, Emma Gauci, Mario Jaccarini, Liz Mallia, Audri Mizzi, The Nitpicker, Carla Said, Christine Spiteri, Yentl Spiteri, Robert Thake, Johann Zarb
The Mountain Bike
29 incognito The Nitpicker
30 inutrecht Going Dutch
31 institching Patches Market
35 Audri’s adventures Hustle and Bustle
36 inperson Rita Borg
A Precarious Balance
39 insights Editing God
40 Fun Page 42 indepth report Parked Buscades
46 inthegame Basketball
6 the insiter • Special Edition
insnippets news stories THAT CAUGHT our attention this month
Concern over room at Students’ House At a recent KPS meeting, Pulse and SDM, with the support of the majority of the student organisations, proposed that the room facing Agenda Bookshop in Students’ House be turned into an office. The current contract for the use of the room expires at the end of August, and therefore it will be free to be allocated as office space for organisations. Currently, Students’ House houses 19 organisations in 10 offices. However, this year, no less than 29 organisations submitted the Room Allocations Report. At the meeting, KSU Secretary General Karl Agius expressed concern that, of these 29, four might not be allocated an office by KSU, due to space restrictions. KSU said that it is currently ‘in discussions’ regarding the use of the room, but fell short of giving a guarantee that the space will be available for the use of student organisations, at least by the beginning of the academic year 2011/2012. The room in question could easily house three or four organisations, thus solving the problem mentioned by KSU’s Secretary General. At the end of the KPS meeting, Pulse and SDM proposed that a vote be taken to ensure that KSU considers the possibility of using the room as office space for organisations. There were 26 votes in favour, four votes against, and three abstentions. UoM Academic at Green Economics Conference Michael Briguglio, an academic in the Sociology Department at the University of Malta, presented a paper at the 5th Annual Green Economics Conference, organised by the Green Economics Institute, between 29 and 31 July 2010 at Mansfield College,
Oxford University. The paper is titled ‘EU Accession and Civil Society Lobbying: The case of Maltese ENGOs’, and is based on some findings from his work-in-progress Ph.D. dissertation in Sociology. The paper argues that EU accession has empowered Maltese ENGOs, due to EU-driven policy and legislative reforms, leading to the institutionalisation of ENGOs through their participation in environmental reform. Erasmus Focus Group KSU International Office is currently working on an Erasmus Assessment Report, which aims to assess the current situation of the Erasmus Mobility Programme, with the specific intention of reviewing whether students are reaping the full benefits of this programme. To this end, KSU will be forming a focus group consisting of students who have participated in this programme. The focus group is geared towards gathering experience, underscoring the obstacles faced by students, and compiling a questionnaire, which will be made available to all those who have participated in the Erasmus programme. The focus group aims to be as representative as possible, and KSU is calling for the participation of a student from each Faculty, Institute and Centre. Publishing Perspectives DESA (Department of English Students Association), supported by Lions Club Sliema, will be organising a symposium consisting of a series of insightful talks by various experts in the field of publishing. At a time when the international publishing industry is undergoing huge changes, DESA aims to utilise the symposium to bring the discussion to the local context, in order to investigate how established me-
dia and businesses are adapting to emerging technologies and new ideas. Guest speakers include established novelist Guze Stagno, The Times sub-editor Veronica Stivala, and publisher Chris Gruppetta from Merlin. Topics include novels, the poetry market, magazines, editing and journalism, web fiction and the digital revolution. After the panel guests present their ideas, a round table discussion session with the audience will follow, in which questions will be asked and ideas will be elaborated upon. The symposium is to be held at the Victoria Hotel, Sliema, on Saturday 4th of September 2010, between 9am and 1pm. Reservations can be made by emailing email@example.com. German Academic Exchange Service Scholarships The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is offering scholarships covering the period of the academic year 2011/2012. The offer includes research grants for doctoral candidates and young academics and scientists; study scholarships for graduates; scholarships for artists and architects; study visits; intensive language courses; and practical traineeships for students of Natural and Technical Sciences, Agriculture and Forestry (IAESTE). Candidates should first obtain the necessary information with regard to their chosen field of study, and will be expected to have taken steps towards securing acceptance from an academic supervisor at the German host institution at the time of application. Candidates must visit the DAAD-Lektor, Dr Arndt Kremer in Room 306 in the Faculty of Arts, either during his consultation hour (Wednesday 11am-12pm) or by making an appointment with him before
applying. The closing date for these applications is noon on Friday 29 October 2010. Research manuscript coauthored by Maltese doctoral student published in ‘Nature Genetics’ The online version of the prestigious journal Nature Genetics has recently published the results of important research on the genetics of haemoglobin conducted by scientists at the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics in the Department of Physiology and Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Malta, and the Thalassaemia Clinic at Mater Dei Hospital, with collaborators from the Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and the University of Patras, Greece. The research manuscript was co-authored by Joseph Borg, a graduate student who is reading for a Ph.D. degree at the University under the supervision of Professor Alex Felice, and two other ‘first authors’ from Rotterdam and Patras. It is entitled ‘Haploinsufficiency for the erythroid transcription factor KLF1 causes hereditary persistence of foetal haemoglobin’. Mr Borg’s research was funded by the Malta Government Scholarship Scheme and a short-term fellowship from the European Molecular Biology Organisation. These results not only contribute towards the further understanding of human physiology in foetal development, but could also prove to be useful in the design of new medicines to treat Haemoglobin disorders. Nature Genetics is published by the Nature Publishing Group, which is renowned for publishing high-impact scientific and medical information. In 1953, it published the original description of the structure of DNA by James D. Watson and Francis Crick.
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8 the insiter • Special Edition
To sleep, perchance to dream By Robert Thake
Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills — against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence. Yet many of the world’s great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. Robert F. Kennedy
In a world which is gradually losing its sense of self, a wor In a world which is gradually losing its sense of self, a world torn in two by the evil of men, the wound suffered by the country on the 12th of August, 2010 is one which will never heal from the person of our national memory. At present, I shall not attempt to reproduce his modest biography, rather, I shall pay homage to my memory of him, and his memory to us. The loss which Malta bore then was not just that of a man, and a father, but of an icon, an idea – an idea which captivates the hearts and minds of even the most stubborn individuals, and causes them to yield at its greater purpose and being. A state of mind which induces a sense of courage over timidity, of strength over weakness, and of reason over fear -- a state of mind which if adopted has the power to shape the way in which we, a people, graced by his presence amongst us, live our lives. Indeed, neither faith, nor nature, in their absolute majesty could ever again harmoniously reinvent the unique qualities through which Prof. Guido de Marco acquired our respect, admiration and our love. We shall never forget his irreproachable manner, his symmetry of strength and humility, his fortitude, and his passion. In a world characterized by greed, and tainted by exclusive self-regard, the life which he lived seems all the more remark-
able. Unacquainted with any notion of selfishness, our Professor lived his life in an exemplary fashion, continuously abiding by his moral convictions and instinctively radiating them to all those who had the pleasure of his company. Indeed, those of us left to grieve by his passing , alone with our barren sense of being, cannot help but feel that we have been cheated of that which our Professor had left to offer. When I look around today, at what the world is destined to become in the absence of such greatness, I am powerless to resist this pain in my heart which I know will never truly fade. Despite the disheartening feeling which grips the nation at this time, I am comforted by my memory of our significant conversations where in his unmistakably affectionate voice he would reassure me that despite the negative trends adopted by many, those, though few in number, who stand up and fight for that which is righteous shall eventually prevail. That is the way he lived, and this is what he leaves us. Hope -- hope, that others, inspired by freedom, may one day rise to the challenges with the same vigor with which he once rose in the face of violence, of terror, of injustice -- hope, that the shaping impulse which he emanated will forever be a part of our lives and that despite this huge loss, we may – now – begin to live as he did, in the hope that as the years pass we will grow stronger as a nation through his everlasting and undying inspiration.
Emma Gauci, a Radiography student, gives an overview of this less mainstream course and the new Bachelor’s Degree in Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiography.
t’s a comical scenario. People ask me what I’m studying and sit back anticipating a response along the lines of ‘Law’, ‘Medicine’, ‘Commerce’, ‘Nursing’, and the like. More often than not, ‘Radiography’ catches them by surprise, and it may take a supplementary, “I’m learning how to take X-rays” before it all falls into place. Radiography actually covers a much broader spectrum of modalities than the X-rays people are accustomed to, and not all of them involve ionising radiation. Thus, modalities such as Ultrasound, MRI, CT, Nuclear Medicine and of course, the good old ‘plain X-ray’, all fall under the category of Medical Imaging. The recent move from St. Luke’s to Mater Dei Hospital has made way for great technological advances in all aspects of medical imaging including, but not limited to, the digitalisation of all image acquisition and sharing, as well as new imaging equipment. With that settled, the time was right for the government to introduce a Radiotherapy and Oncology Department to the hospital. While diagnostic radiography deals mainly with the detection and diagnosis of disease, radiotherapy is concerned with treatment of diseases, such as cancers, using high doses of radiation to target and kill off unwanted cells. The new Bachelor’s Degree in Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiography has been set up in response to the nation’s need for competent workers in the upcoming department. As of October 2010, the course will open to twelve students who will be trained in theory and practice over a period of four years. Apart from the new topics, a number of study-units found in the current degree will remain fundamental aspects of the course. These are mainly subjects pertaining to anatomy, physiology and physics. The degree is being offered by the Faculty of Health Sciences (previously the Institute of Healthcare) (UoM). However, due to the fact that local expertise in radiotherapy is still
establishing itself, the University of Malta and the Department of Health have signed an agreement with the University of Cardiff, which will allow this redbrick university to oversee the running of the course. Surely you must be wondering why such an exciting new course is limited to so few students, especially since the new department will need to be well staffed once complete! From experience, we all know that smaller student groups allow for better focus and often, one-to-one communication between students and lecturers in the classroom setting. This is nothing short of essential to up-and-coming radiographers, who must learn to manage the machines they work with without getting caught up in technicalities and neglecting the high standard of patient care required when dealing with cancer patients. Apart from all this, the limited number is also due to the restricted number of students that may be accepted for clinical placements both locally and abroad. The majority of these placements are held in the third year of studies. As is currently the case, diagnostic radiography placements will be held locally, within the Medical Imaging Department. As part of the aforementioned agreement, the University of Cardiff will enable students to spend a minimum of twenty-two weeks practicing therapeutic radiography at various Welsh Hospitals. The amount of funding provided by the Maltese Government to make this possible might require graduates to work at Mater Dei for a stipulated period of time upon completion of their degree. The entry requirements for this degree are as published by the University of Malta and include a Grade E or better in A’level Biology. Anyone wishing to obtain further information on this, or any other course offered by the Faculty of Health Sciences may visit the website www.um.edu.mt/ihc or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Johann Zarb gives a studentâ€™s perspective on the perplexing discrepancy between the shortage of nurses in our hospitals and the numerus clausus imposed by the University on admissions into the nursing course.
ver the past few years, a number of billboards along major Maltese roads have featured advertisements encouraging people to join the nursing profession. These marketing campaigns were being carried out by the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN). Clearly, the scheme has proved fruitful, especially considering that a record number of students applied for the course last year. This could not have happened at a better time, as the Maltese healthcare system is currently suffering from a severe shortage of nurses. Attracting prospective students to the profession by means of the introduction of incentives is the best course of action in order to prop up our healthcare system. There have also been attempts to recruit foreign nurses, although these have been criticized by the MUMN. In this regard, concerns have been expressed with regard to possible communication problems between foreign nurses and Maltese patients, particularly elderly ones. Recently, the MUMN expressed incredulity at the Universityâ€™s insistence on limiting the number of entrants into the nursing course to 140 students. The Union spoke of complaints it had received from students who had the necessary qualifications to enter the course but were refused entry by the University on the grounds that the limit of online applications had been reached. According to the University, this limit was imposed due to the considerable amount of hands-on learning that the course entails. This is a means to ensure that each student gains a reasonable amount of experience under adequate supervision in State-run health facilities such as Mater Dei Hospital and Mount Carmel Hospital. The University also maintains that it is bound by an EU Directive regarding the maintenance of certain standards and the provision of training. Although both sides have presented good arguments, the problem of the shortage of nurses is no closer to being resolved. When asked about the current situation, a number of undergraduates replied that they are not well
informed about the circumstances, but agreed that prospective students having the required qualifications should be permitted to enter the course. After all, the only long-term solution is to train a sufficient number of home-grown nurses to cater for local needs. A possible strategy for ensuring that an increase in the number of students does not interfere with the quality of teaching during practical sessions is a collaboration between the State-run and private health sector, leading to an increase in the number of placements available for nursing students. Both nursing students and qualified nurses are perplexed by the lack of communication between the UOM and the MUMN. When contacted, one nurse at St. Vincent de Paule Residence warned against rushing students through the course; a tendency which might develop in response to the present circumstances. The nurse commented that considering how the two entities have failed to agree on the number of students admitted into the course per year, prospects of them concurring on the educational scheme for nurses seem dim.
illustrations bernard micallef
UoM vs. MUMN - Still at Stalemate
12 the insiter • Special Edition
When fiction is too close for comfort
Full-time law student and former editor of The Insiter, Anna Abela, shares her ideas in a monthly column
ne balmy, summer evening, an acquaintance of mine was at a popular Paceville haunt, when she spied a teenage girl strewn unconscious across the bar. An all too familiar sordid sight, she thought. Nothing could have prepared her for what she saw next. A swarm of boys began to molest the girl in full view of the entire club. Not a single person so much as batted an eyelid, less still intervened. At one point, a bouncer emerged from the throng. ”About time,” she murmured. Clearly, she had spoken too soon. The bouncer promptly joined the boys in their sport. If you are a parent or lecturer reading this, you may be (understandably) shocked. My peers won’t be. We are the generation for whom it is now acceptable to place bets on who will bed an unwitting girl over the weekend, a practice that is becoming increasingly common among University students. These appalling incidents are but extreme manifestations of a much wider malaise. Only a few weeks ago, a woman who had the temerity to drag her work colleague before an Industrial Tribunal for sexual harassment became the subject of national ridicule. Our selfappointed pundits decreed that being told to sit between your male boss’s legs in front of an entire boardroom was not sexual harassment. It was just bullying, that’s all. Filing a lawsuit was a bit like crying for mummy when the big boys shoved you out of the sandpit, they bayed. According to one online oracle, victims of sexual harassment should simply engage in thrust-and-parry repartee with their harassers for as long as it takes to get them to run off squealing, tail between legs, preferably mortified by a dry one-liner about the size of their equipment. Now I, for one, would love to face down dirty old men with the wit and poise of Boston Legal’s Shirley Schmidt. After being propositioned by (perpetually randy) bumbling lawyer Denny Crane, the ice blonde litigator retorts: ‘Denny, get yourself a subscription to National Geographic. Make a list of all the places you will never visit. Add to that list: Shirley Schmidt.’ But Shirley Schmidt is not a real person. Shirley Schmidt is the product of an army of scriptwriters. Sadly, the rest
of us don’t get to go through life with a script and cue cards. And let’s be honest here, coming up with witty retort after witty retort to quell your boss’s running commentary is, quite frankly, exhausting. The Industrial Tribunal’s decision brought to mind an assignment about gender equality law that I had to write in my second year. At the time, I was surprised to find out that there exists next to no domestic jurisprudence on the topic. This is not because we inhabit some Scandinavian utopia. Rather, Maltese women, unlike their European counterparts, simply do not resort to their rights at law. The case that was splashed all over the newspapers a few weeks ago was a landmark judgment precisely because no one has ever had the gumption to bring a case of verbal sexual harassment before the Maltese courts. The fact that the lawsuit was successful is just the cherry on the cake. Try telling a British barrister that Malta has only had one verbal sexual harassment lawsuit throughout its entire legal history. Just this summer, a British employment tribunal ordered the Sussex police force to pay a record €273,000 in damages (over a hundred times more than the compensation awarded to the Maltese victim) in a case that was uncannily similar. Like the Maltese case, the victim, a female police officer, was subjected to cumulative abuse which led to psychological distress. The tribunal judgment specifically mentions an incident where the police officer’s superior, in a room full of her colleagues, told her: “Come sit at the front. I promise not to look at your chest.” Familiar much? Our flippant attitude to harassment (of any kind) says a lot about our culture. To think that we are the nation that collectively reached for the smelling salts when an obscure student newspaper published a character study of a chauvinist. To borrow a hackneyed cliché, the now infamous Vella Gera story held up a mirror to society. It sent shockwaves through the country precisely because our own reflection was too ugly for us to bear. photograph yentl spiteri
14 the insiter • Special Edition
warm gust of wind greeted me as I walked along the runway. My head was still pounding from the clapping and constant mumbling of the Italian passengers on board the aircraft. I hoped that I would find my luggage waiting for me in a good condition (since I made use of a popular low cost airline that makes its profit from overweight luggage and corny gadgets). There it was, my purple, slightly overweight suitcase. Then it hit me: Woah! I’m in Italia! I was taking part in a Partnership Building Activity, where young volunteers such as myself, from all over Europe, met up in Bari in order to interact and form partnerships that would hopefully lead to collaborating and host projects together in the future. A Facebook status later, I met two Italian guys who escorted me to my accomondation. Within fifteen minutes, I had made friends with them and we were sharing some prosciutto panini and limoncello. Other Italians and some EVS (European Voluntary Service) participants also joined us, and we hopped from one bar to another until we ended up jumping up and down to hip-hop music at a beer party. “Malta? Oh..Malta!” The whole group was friendly. I was one of the youngest, and yet I managed to form good relations with each participant. Since this was my first Partnership Building Activity representing Insite, I was looking forward to introducing the organisation to the other foreign participants. The feedback I managed to obtain was excellent; they were quite impressed with the standard of our publication and with the work
of the organisation. Of course, I was proud. Very proud. We were staying in Altamura, which is a small city in Bari . The Romanesque architecture of the Cathedral and other buildings was eye-catching. However, I was more interested in observing the people’s lifestyle: fashionably dressed people sat around on benches drinking coffee, smoking thick cigars and discussing the daily news. Altamura is not a touristic village at all, and thus everyone is related to each other. It felt just like home. During the PBA we visited another city, Matera, which is an ancient city famous for its history and expensive property. I ate pasta and pizza everyday, followed by the best gelato I’ve ever tasted. I managed to make partnerships for the future and we are currently working on new opportunities abroad for our fellow Insite members and students of the UoMeh. What I liked: My Croatian room mates and gelato! What I didn’t like: The absurd clapping sound just as the airplane landed back on the rock. I felt like shouting in despair: “what are you all clapping for? We’re back home!”
Yentl Spiteri is Insite’s External Relations Officer. She briefs us up about her very enriching role within the organisation through an account of her experience in Bari.
illustration liz mallia
16 the insiter • Special Edition
The members of ‘Rewined’, the Young Enterprise success story, share with Tamara Chetcuti the ups and downs of setting up and running their own company.
reaking down. Anger. Fulfilling. Rewarding.” Those were the five words that Andrew Wirth, the Managing Director of Rewined - a Young Enterpise (YE) Company, used to describe his experience in this year’s winning YE Achievers’ Programme 2009/2010. I met up with Andrew recently, while he was working the Junior College Sixth Form applicants’ line to promote Young Enterprise. We left the line for a while to discuss an experience that could bring more stress (as well as satisfaction) than a sixth former’s journey towards those daunting examinations called the ‘A’ levels. I remember laying eyes on Rewined’s stand during the Achievers’ Fair earlier this year. Their product immediately stirred my interest. For only €6.50, the company was selling what they called a ‘multiplat’: a multi-functional platter made out of flattened bottles of wine. Andrew described the process as a long but worthwhile one. “At first we had loads of brainstorming activities. The first three months were just brainstorming. Then we carried out
Young achievers’ whirlwind success market research. The most popular choices were the recycled products. We asked ourselves, ‘what hasn’t been tackled?’. In Malta, wine bottles were one of the few things that weren’t recycled. So we decided to tackle this problem. Market research proved that this product would be most appealing to consumers. Having free resources and a company like Mdina Glass to help us made it easier. Mdina Glass’ services were at a charge but it was a small price to pay to get the job done!” During the interview, the first thing that struck me about Rewined was that none of the members came from a commerce background. As Andrew pointed out, “most are studying Sciences. That’s quite interesting actually, as it shows how unrelated your line of study is to business; you can still take part in YE. Whatever subject you study, YE will help you in many areas of your life.” It was also interesting to learn about their relationship with each other. Andrew described it quite positively, even though none of them knew each other before collaborating on this project! “We all came from different schools. I only knew one person in the group. De La Salle was a new school for all of us. We
photograph gino galea
18 the insiter • Special Edition
were very keen on making new friends and getting to know each other.” Throughout the interview, Andrew made it quite clear that this was the secret to their success. This company was a well-oiled machine! “We met every four days or even more often. We would sleep at the production house, wake up and continue working. It was tough, what with our ‘A’ levels and studying and so on. We always made sure we tackled every problem effectively within our HR department. We divided work evenly, and if some argument or misunderstanding cropped up, we would try to solve it immediately. Internally, we had no problem at all. The problem was the competition. It took us by surprise.” At this point, I had flashbacks of some instances of rivalry that I witnessed while I myself was involved in YE. It was a new feeling at the time. We were both the best of friends and the worst of rivals. Andrew seemed to agree. “Yes, that’s very true. From the beginning, people started eyeing us out. We took part in activities with other teams, but we also knew we had to be very cautious. However, I congratulate YE for this, as they allowed the teams enough contact to keep an eye on each other’s progress.” I agree with Andrew that the competition is the most important factor. The company has been attracting quite some attention in the last few months. In Malta they won many awards, including Best Marketing, Best Finance, Best Team, Best Corporate Social Responsibility, and the coveted Company of the Year Award. Andrew himself won the Achiever of the Year award, which is a huge personal honour. However, their biggest achievement was being the first Maltese team to win the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Most Promising Company of the Year award in the Calgary finals. “It’s the first time Malta has won the HP Award. We even gave an interview analyzing why we were the first Maltese team to win it. People were trying to find out what we did differently to other teams throughout the years.” Andrew and I proceeded to discuss the differences between Malta and other countries with regard to business and Young Enterprise. It seemed that foreign teams were more informal than our local winners in terms of image and presentation. “It was extremely different abroad. The only negative aspect was that it was almost disappointing that the level of YE in Malta was so disproportionately high when compared with other
countries. For example, we were the only team, among 35 teams hailing from different countries, to wear a suit. We had a corporate image. We weren’t just there to have fun. We wanted to make the most of it as a learning experience. Most of the other teams weren’t taking it as seriously as we were.” I reminded Andrew that business cultures differ from country to country , and I asked him whether representing a small country causes one to take things too seriously, sometimes in order to impress. “The corporate image we took up was intended to impress, because we were one of the few countries that treated YE as a model for what we will be in the future. Other people took it as an experience, a subject they were taking at school to get some course credits. Despite this, our favourite team in Calgary was the one from Sweden. Their product was young and fresh. Their uniform matched their image. Although businesslike, their uniform was made out of the same material as their product. They made skirts and ties out of their products. They had a very cool image and we loved their overall presentation.” I asked whether the government should sponsor and support the cause. “For sure! I believe the government should help YE more. Our trip abroad cost us so much, and without private sponsors it would have not been possible. Of course the organisation pays for quite a few members, but any additional members would have to cover their own expenses. With all the success YE companies have had, now private companies have realised it pays them to sponsor YE. They can also appreciate that these young people show great potential and will one day be an asset to businesses.” After gaining this delightful insight into the local and foreign business scene and following the success of such a promising team, I asked Andrew to sum up why young people should join YE. “Without a doubt, I’m going to advise anyone I know to join. At first, you don’t realise just how beneficial it is, but once it’s over you know that no matter how much you study, you ’ll never gain such experience. YE gave me a wealth of experience. That’s why I’m here today taking prospective students’ names down. I know some people here who are scared of trying it out. It’s a great experience. It’s something I will never regret doing, and that I will continue to recommend.”
Gianluca Bezzina instyle
A Shortcut to Summer ingear
The Mountain Bike inutrecht
photograph glorianne cassar
photograph glorianne cassar
20 P’OUT! • Special Edition
Christine Spiteri interviews medical student and singer Gianluca Bezzina about music, family, role models, and his aspirations for the future.
s we sat comfortably floating on the River Nile - just about a year ago - with an iPod playing mellow music in the background, I noticed Gianluca lip-sync to the songs that were playing, while staring into oblivion. I remember the whole group enthusiastically urging him to sing something for us, and so we played his favourite song, hoping that he would entertain us. It took quite some time to convince him to utter a chorus, as he was a tad shy, but once he got into it, his rendition of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” was really special. That was the day when I became a fan of Gianluca, and as soon as I got access to internet, I made it a point to “like” his singing videos on Facebook. Gianluca Bezzina is a medical student coming from a closeknit musical family. He is currently part of a six-piece band called Funk Initiative, and the music they play falls under genres such as jazz, funk, indie and alternative. As a band, they won the KSU’s Singer Songwriter’s Showcase with their own composition and lyrics. As a soloist, Gianluca is mostly influenced by artists like John Mayer, Michael Bublé and Newton Faulkner. He sang ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ and ‘Shine’ to packed houses at the MCC during the VOICES concerts in 2008. Apart from singing, he has played the accordion since the age of eight and he also enjoys football. What role does music have in your life? Music is what my life sounds like! It’s part of all the things I experience every day: it’s part of my prayers, my work, a form of relaxation and a means of exploring my talents and myself. I grew up in a musical environment, in a family of nine, so my devotion to music developed quite naturally. In fact, one of the benefits of being a large family is that when there is a common interest in something, every one of us shares his passion for it, so obviously this helps our love grow towards it. What was it like growing up in a family of seven siblings? It just couldn’t have been better! Seriously, I wouldn’t have
had it any other way… Neither of us is the same, but at the same time we all share common interests and we’re always there for each other. It’s such a great feeling knowing you can share anything with so many people who are there to listen and genuinely want what’s best for you, but knowing you can have your own space when you need it. Our house was and still is full of fun, activities, laughter and music. I remember my younger siblings being born, I remember the frilly dresses my elder sisters Dorothy and Samaria used to make me wear, trying to convince me that it was a king’s costume and I remember the endless hours of football with my younger brothers in our garden after catechism lessons. Mum says that her nursery has turned into a youth club today, but the present is just as beautiful as the past. We still love watching Inter play on Sundays, and we now enjoy a good game of Poker, Pictionary, Werewolf, or even a hike or a swim. How old were you when you knew you could sing? I realised that music would be a part of my life from the very beginning. In fact, when we watch videos of our childhood, most of them feature us singing and dancing and there’s always some kind of music playing in the background, ranging from Humpty Dumpty to Funiculì, Funiculà. So I guess I always loved singing along to these tunes and somehow I thought it was second nature for someone to sing in tune to these different melodies. I remember auditioning and being part of the Malta Children’s Choir, together with another three of my siblings. Later, I began to realise that as we grow older we all start exhibiting what we do best. I knew I had a musical talent, however at the time when I was still in Secondary school, being the shy person that I am, I did not feel the need to expose it, despite the support and encouragement that I received. The encouragement mainly came from my eldest sister, Dorothy, whom I really admire, and from the rest of the family. My sixth form friends also played an important role in backing me. Later, when I entered St. Aloysius Sixth Form, I discovered
so many opportunities that helped me recognise and appreciate my talents. The first time I sang solo in front of an audience was at the unplugged concert held at the school’s assembly hall during my first year. Are you shy on stage? No matter how long you’ve been performing, it’s always nerve wracking to be waiting for your turn to get up on stage and sing. But once you’re there, absorbing all that is around you and having sung the first two verses, it’s one of the greatest feelings… You’d be surprised how it all ends so quickly. I really appreciate comments from the audience too. I usually like to receive feedback. What would you like to achieve musically and why? I would most definitely wish to record my own songs together with the band’s originals, and also have the chance to perform together with my siblings, with whom I’ve been sharing this passion for so long. I wouldn’t mind learning new instruments, which would definitely be an asset to my career, but mostly, as long as I can sing my heart out and live music, I’m fine. What does becoming famous mean to you? If the quest for fame had to be the only goal for a singer, then his true love for music would die. It’s music that means so much to me, rather than fame. I simply enjoy singing and watching others enjoy themselves while I sing. Of course, I wouldn’t mind exposing my talent to the right contacts, but real success comes with doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do, without thinking of fame. If it comes at all it will hopefully come because it is deserved, not because it is sought after. Who do you look up to? My parents. It’s definitely not easy raising seven children and giving them the best education anyone can offer, be it academic, musical, spiritual or through life experiences. Through their example, attention and patience, we were raised in what I see as an ideal family environment. My dad is always there
whenever we have problems with our academic studies, be it sciences, engineering, history or architecture, and I just love watching him teach or even learn a new piece on guitar together with my two other brothers. I’m also very proud of my mum, who still finds the energy to teach, study at university and give us her full attention whenever we need her. Would you still be singing in 10 years’ time? Heh! That means I would be 30! I’ll hopefully become a doctor in two years, so I do hope I would have advanced further in my profession. Apart from that, I see myself being married, and hopefully, I would have lived through many more enriching experiences in the voluntary work I truly enjoy doing in different countries. Of course, I do hope I would have made advances in my musical career too… more opportunities to sing, to learn and to expose my talent. As for my family and friends, I really hope that time would not cause us to drift apart, but rather bring us closer together. What is the best advice you’ve been given? From a young age, thanks to my catechism teacher, Vince Bartolo, and to the Parish Priest at the time, Fr Ray Toledo, I learned how to keep Christ at the centre of everything I do, be it singing, studying or enjoying myself. This always gives me the strength to take life as it comes, but at the same time to have enough confidence and courage to walk through it. Best memory in your life so far... Last year I was doing voluntary work in Egypt with a group of friends. Those three weeks were a life-changing experience. However, there was a day I will always remember. This was when we took the children of Muqattam on an outing to Sokhna Beach. The children’s eagerness to enjoy themselves as much as possible and the expression on their faces said it all. It was undoubtedly the best day of my life. I never felt a greater sense of peace, joy, happiness and at the same time a great enthusiasm to live life.
22 P’OUT! • Special Edition
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26 P’OUT! • Special Edition
Two wheels are better than four
while the powers that be might still want us to believe that public transport is the way to go, students, being the relatively wisedup bunch they always were, have most times opted for a private vehicle of their own. in the insiter’s Final monthly ingear column, we shall be taking a look at an alternative mode of transport: the Mountain Bike. By michael “D-bone” debono
robably, few people are aware that the forerunner of the modern bicycle, the dandy horse - which was in use during the 1800s - had no pedals but was propelled by the rider, who pushed against the ground using his/her feet as though walking normally. It was in the 1860s that the first pedal-driven velocipede was born. The cyclist would pedal the front wheel while sitting on top of it. Some of you may have heard of the so-called penny-farthing, that strange-looking bicycle with a gigantic front wheel and a minuscule rear wheel. It was very popular in the 1880s. In fact, its nickname derives from the size difference between the penny and farthing coins. The oldest bicycles had wooden and later on metal tyres, so imagine what it would have been like for cyclists riding along Malta’s rural roads! Luckily, nowadays, most mountain bikes are equipped with suspension. It was in the 1890s’, during the Golden Age of Bicycles, that the first practical pneumatic tyres, gears and cable brake systems were introduced. Different types of bicycles have developed since then, such as utility bikes (those city bikes seen in many foreign cities), mountain bikes, racer bikes, and sporty BMXs (those used in freestyle events). It is also worth mentioning motor-driven bicycles. Although in my opinion, these defeat the purpose of using a bike in the first place. So then, why should we consider the bicycle in this section of The Insiter? Perhaps the majority would not agree with me, but I assure you that a bike is definitely a good vehicle for student mobility. All drivers know how their fuel-guzzling cars devour their hard-earned cash. Using a bike to go to University from nearby localities such as Mosta, Naxxar, Attard, Sliema, or Hamrun is definitely more economical than using a car or taking the bus. For those living further away, I’m sure the trip is still somehow possible, although it would help if showers were installed in the University to be used by us cyclists.
As a result of the reduction in fuel consumption, which is one of the benefits of using a bike, a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases and of other harmful chemicals would also occur. This is especially relevant when one considers that in the year 2007 Maltese citizens were found to have been exposed to more harmful particulate matter than the average EU citizen. As for the perennial problem of running late for lectures, a bike ride from Attard to University can take as little as 15 minutes (I know from experience), which compares well with the time required to come by car, particularly during rush hour. Moreover, parking is generally possible right next to the faculties, which means that all parking hassles are avoided. Cycling to University is also a perfect way of achieving the hour’s exercise recommended daily, which in turn reduces the level of daily stress we face as students. Maybe it would be a good idea to set up a bike rental scheme at University, whereby students may rent a bike for their commutes throughout their University life. While there may be some safety issues, from my experience, cyclists are generally safe if they drive prudently in traffic, while remaining on the alert for reckless drivers, and the odd pothole. The one or two bike crashes I’ve been involved in were a result of my own errors. Obviously, wearing a helmet and a reflective vest and fitting one’s bike with proper lights are absolute musts. Admittedly, a bike may not be the ideal mode of transport on rainy days or during the hot summer months, but apart from that it can be an excellent vehicle, with many benefits for the user and the environment! MODEL: Mountain Bike SAFETY FEATURES: “Common Sense” STUDENT AFFORDABILITY: FUEL ECONOMY: TOP SPEED: BACKSEAT FUN: CHICK SWOON FACTOR™:
photograph christine spiteri
The Nitpicker incognito
Business as unusual I’m going to be honest with you, dear readers (the ones who are still reading after that clichéd phrase, at least). I came into this, my last ever bit of nitpickery, without having any idea what to write about, mainly because there isn’t that much to write about in summer as far as student affairs are concerned. Except, of course, results. I’ve just learned that, gobsmackingly, there are people who still haven’t received results, and this in the second week of August. I appreciate the fact that lecturers are entitled to a break just like us students, but really, two months to correct a few papers? Try as I might, I can’t picture our esteemed lecturers lying on the beach, sipping cocktails and playing volleyball in their Speedos and bikinis (apologies for the unpleasant mental images I may have created there), so that can’t be why they’re taking so long. Maybe the dog ate our homework. In a press release KSU said that they’re “concerned” about the current cock up. Expressing concern in press releases is something KSU are very good at. Sadly they’re not very good at much else. I can just imagine them standing in front of a nonchalant lecturer, with brows furrowed, trying to look as disapproving as possible. That’ll get things moving, surely. Questionn-eh? And now for another of KSU’s annoying habits. They
recently announced that they will be conducting focus groups on the subject of the ERASMUS exchange programme, the outcome of which will help towards the design of a questionnaire. I don’t know what it is with KSU and questionnaires. First there was the questionnaire about students’ perception of lecturers, which will probably prove to be about as useful as, well, KSU. Now I’m all for a bit of research, but only if something comes of it. I hate to think what would happen if KSU were in charge at the UN...“How are we going to diffuse tensions between North and South Korea?” “Hand them a questionnaire, they’ll be hugging in no time.” “What about world poverty?” “A few multiple choice questions and satisfaction scales. That’ll do the trick.” So long, suckers. For better or worse, my time at UoMeh is up. I can’t say it’s been entirely crap, but mostly so. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these articles as much as I’ve racked my brains trying to find stuff to write about each month. Alright alright, it hasn’t been that hard, seeing as there are so many cock ups (or should that be kokka ups?) happening on a regular basis at UoMeh. So, toodles, and remember, we still be kantin, yo!
illustration camille felice
Juvenile justice is a relatively young branch of law. AnnaMaria Zammit, a fourth year law student, ventured to the city of Utrecht in Holland for an intensive introduction to the area.
An Unforgettable Experience in a Beautiful City At that soul-crushing time of year when exams begin approaching at an inexorable pace, I invest some of the inevitable hours of procrastination scouring the internet for constructive uses of the summer months. Naturally, most of these seem ludicrous in retrospect, once the post-exam euphoria dies down. Fortunately, the prospect of attending a two-week course on international juvenile justice in the Netherlands remained exciting, and provided invaluable motivation once exam period rolled around. The Utrecht Summer School is organized by Utrecht University, the largest University of the Netherlands. It offers over a hundred courses in a variety of disciplines. For most of the courses, ECTS credits are awarded. The course I opted for offered an international comparative perspective on juvenile justice, through various sessions conducted by a group of international experts. The focus was on trends in juvenile justice, on institutions and procedures, on sanctions, and on children’s rights in the context of youth justice. ‘Hup, Holland, Hup!’ I arrived in Utrecht on the evening of the 11th July, greeted by a spectacular sea of orange spilling through the streets. All life had gravitated towards bars and pubs, and all eyes were fixed on giant screens showing the final World Cup match between Holland and Spain. In the cosy common room of the student accommodation, I witnessed Holland’s defeat, and for the very first time felt a shred of emotion about the outcome of a football game. The following morning, the usually pristine streets reeked of beer and bitter disappointment. Meanwhile, my spirits continued to rise as the day progressed. The course was certainly living up to my expectations.
Learning from the best The speakers whom I found particularly inspiring were Professor Jaap Doek, former Chair of the UN Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, who discussed juvenile justice from a children’s right perspective, a topic which I found extremely interesting; and Dr. Ursina Weidkuhn, a Swiss juvenile judge whose commitment to her work and to the betterment of the young people who appear before is quite admirable. I had so many questions to ask, and so many remarks to share. It was important that I understood everything, even though I was not going to be examined on the material. Researching further about the topics we covered seemed the natural thing to do, and as a result I learned plenty about the situation in Malta, identifying shortcomings in the system as well as certain improvements made in recent years. Every day, another piece of the jigsaw came together. In between lectures, we were encouraged to engage in discussions about the laws in our various countries, ranging from Eritrea to South Africa, and several European countries. Often, these lively debates were rekindled after classes, during the pleasant walks around the city and over iced coffee and divine slices of date pie at our favourite coffee shop. Seeing the law in action One session, which was delivered by a Dutch police officer, took place at the Safety House (Veiligheidshuis) of Utrecht inside the court building. As of five years ago, every region in the Netherlands must have a ‘Safety House’, whose main purpose is the prevention of youth offences. There are currently forty-six of these across the country. By means of weekly judicial case meetings, judicial and welfare authorities discuss each youth offender in the region and compile an individual programme, whether preventive, repressive, or a combination of both. Multiple offenders have decreased dramatically in the Netherlands since the introduction of this effective and unique system of Safety Houses. Another institution which we had the opportunity to visit was a girls’ institution called ‘De Lindenhorst’. Its continued success in providing preventive treatment, as well as rehabilitation, hinges on the seamless cooperation between all mem-
bers of the highly dedicated staff, including security personnel, psychologists, specialized teachers, and group leaders. During our visit the girls were participating in sports activities, and we were allowed to have a little chat with them. We were also shown around their school and their rooms, which are a strange cross between regular bedrooms and prison cells. I could not help thinking about how much our country (as well as many others) has to learn from the laws and establishments in place in the Netherlands. Catching a glimpse of the city of Utrecht Utrecht is almost 2000 years old. It is located in the heart of the Netherlands, and, like all Dutch cities, it is characterized by thousands of bikes and many quaint canals. The population is young, consisting of a large percentage of students; and multicultural, with inhabitants hailing from over 170 countries worldwide. The Dutch people are incredibly friendly and hospitable. Every time we began to pour over a map someone would stop (even if they happened to be riding along briskly on their bike) and offer directions. I felt at home and safe at all times. Many evenings were spent socializing at ‘Mick O’Connells’, the Irish pub traditionally frequented by summer school students, who benefit from considerable discounts and a private room where the weekly pub quizzes are held. One of these was held on our second night in Utrecht, as a brilliant icebreaking event. My team placed second, missing out on a free round of pints by only two points! Later on during the week we went night canoeing and engaged in further friendly competition. Many of us were first-timers and spent the first couple of minutes zigzagging frantically, bumping canoes, and getting repeatedly jammed against the bank. Once we got the hang of it, we spent a relaxing, albeit tiring evening paddling through the beautifully illuminated canals and enjoying views of the historic façades and the impressive trees along the water, some of which are over 200 years old. While sight-seeing was not high on the agenda, I realised that some experiences were not to be missed. The magnificent Dom Tower, the highest Church tower in the Netherlands (measuring 112 metres), is the pride of Utrecht and a vital landmark for visitors who, like me, could not find their way
out of a paper bag. One afternoon, Melita, my lovely Georgian friend, and I braved the exhausting climb up the 465 steps, which culminated in a spectacular panorama of Utrecht. According to our tour guide, the view extends all the way to Amsterdam on particularly fine days (sadly, we enjoyed very few of these!). She also told us that during the World Cup the enormous bells in the tower were set to play Dutch football chants! Then for something completely different… During the weekend, while most of my colleagues set off to Amsterdam, I hopped on a train to the nearest zoo, which happened to be the enormous Rotterdam Zoo, armed with a Starbucks Frappuccino and a list of the residents I intended to visit. At the top of the list was the Manul (or Pallas’s Cat), a species of wildcat found in Central Asia, which is about the same size as the domestic cat. A close second was the Amur leopard. This animal is critically endangered, with fewer than forty individuals currently living in the wild…which is why I recently adopted one through the WWF. Other highlights included a Sumatran tiger; Doris, the baby giraffe who was born last April; and Eric and Olinka, the polar bears who moved to the zoo in March. This too proved to be a learning experience. Apparently, guinea pigs are intelligent enough to distinguish between people. And lemmings are much, much tinier than I imagined. On Monday morning, I hid determinedly behind my books while everyone else chatted to the course directors about their weekend. And most importantly! I remain grateful to the brilliant lecturers for imparting their enthusiasm for their profession, as well as a portion of their vast and detailed academic knowledge. More valuable than the information I absorbed was the appreciation I developed, over such a short period of time, of the way in which the law, if drafted conscientiously and implemented properly, can mould and alter lives and shape a healthy society.
32 the insiter • Special Edition
photographs tamara fenech
& romina tolu
Patches is a recent project that encourages the showcasing of local arts and crafts, as well as other talents. Carla Said speaks about her experience of this project. A flurry of activity descends upon the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta on a Sunday afternoon. Trestle tables are decorated with eye-catching prints and wares are carefully laid out. People step back, scrutinising their stalls and making lastminute adjustments. Little tables and cake stands pop up like loyal pets to serve their new purposes. Banners are unfurled. There is a sense of tingling anticipation in the air. The first batch of curious onlookers starts to trickle past the transfigured tables. Objects are admired sottovoce; a nervous smile is exchanged with the bustling and slightly anxious figure behind the stand. A smile and a nod are enough to encourage the admirer to pick up and carefully examine the trinket. This small exchange of childlike fascination and proprietary pride was probably one of the things that made me enjoy Patches so much. Earlier this summer I took part in the first edition of ‘the special market’, also known as Patches. I participated in June and was overwhelmed by the whole thing. It was a rewarding experience in many ways; I was eager to gauge people’s reactions to my handiwork and pleased to be participating in something that echoed my beliefs. So what is Patches? Who came up with the idea? This happening is the brainchild of Denise Scicluna and Jimmy Grima. They are creative people themselves who have taken the initiative to set up something new and quietly ambitious. These
photograph romina tolu
ambitions go beyond simply showcasing local arts and crafts. From what I could gather, the plan is for Patches to become an established source of imaginative hand-made goods. Although it cannot really be called a festival, music is a regular feature, with young talent and more established musicians performing on the day. Accordions and happy indie sounds serve as an appropriate aural background to the quirky and original items on offer. This part of the market is referred to specifically as the ‘Patches Stage’ – the fundamental notion being to provide a stage for anything: lectures, readings and more. Patches is a great idea that is gradually gaining momentum. Two editions into its growth, the ball is most certainly rolling. Wind, rain, unfortunate postponements and mishaps notwithstanding, this open-air celebration of human-scaled work keeps a hold of its holiday feel while its organisers retain their healthy ambition. The next edition, to be held in September, promises a change of scene (and hours, too). The Christmas happening also promises much. So keep your eyes peeled. The folksy wonderland is set to come back, with fairy lights twinkling over a selection of enchantments. The third edition of PATCHES will take place on Saturday 25th September, during the yearly event of Notte Bianca. Artist applications are available from the website www.patchesmarket.com and deadline for applicants is 6th September.
Well worth a visit
34 the insiter • Special Edition
The Job Chain Success
Part 3: The Job Interview
a preliminary interview whereby you would be asked more general questions related to your character and competencies. The scope of a first interview is to short list candidates and identify which ones fit closer to the requirements of the role or of the ‘ideal’ employee. On the other hand, the second interview would focus more on the job role that the company is recruiting for, thus you would be assessed on whether you have the right skills to perform the particular role.
Three important steps stand between the application phase and the job placement. The covering letter, the Curriculum Vitæ (CV) and the job interview form these three steps. In this article we will be discussing the last stage: the job interview. What is a Job Interview? The recruiter would have already assessed your application by reading your covering letter and CV. In other words, so far you have described yourself by means of text. The scope of the job interview is to get to know the applicant on a more personal and first hand level. During the job interview you will be asked a variety of questions which will assist the employer in examining your skills, education and experience in relation to the job you would have applied for. You will most probably attend more than one interview for one particular post. The process normally involves attending two interviews. If you are successful during these interviews you will be either offered the job or else you will be asked to attend another round of interviews. The first interview might be considered as
The Questions and Answers Below you can find questions (Q) that frequently asked during interviews; together with some guidelines (G) on how one might answer. Keep in mind that questions will vary from one interview to another, as will the approach of each interviewer. Q1: Tell us a bit about yourself... G1: Prepare a brief response in which you explain thoroughly your experience (focusing on the post you are being interviewed for), education and skills. Q2: Why are you here? G2: Indicate why you chose to apply with this particular company.
Q3: What can you do for us? G3: Show commitment towards reaching the goals of the company whilst also concentrating on personal skills which diversify you from other applicants. Q4: What kind of person are you? G4: Focus on your personality, values and people skills. Conclusion During the interview, you will be projecting your working abilities and personality. It is essential that each interview is taken seriously and is well prepared for. Most importantly, always be yourself and never portray a person you are not. During these articles, we have gone through an applicant’s tools when applying for a job; the Covering Letter, the CV and the Job Interview. Each step in the application process should be given the same importance as each of them constitute to the final result of achieving your ideal and right job. MISCO promotes graduate recruitment – feel free to contact us for tips on how to optimise your job searching skills. For more information contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 22054505.
Every month, a pint-sized human being tries out things and writes things about them. Meet Audri.
Hustle Bustle & t’s been a so long since my last adventure I’ve actually got a tan now. From my dissertation to full-blown heavy metal, I’d say these past two months have been quite fruitful. Of course, the repercussions of my final year at University have yet to be defeated. The chair implanted to my backside needs a separate deck-chair, and I seem to be running out of maternity clothes for work. Nevertheless, I’m still the same adventurous Audri, running a mile a day (in my head). So much has happened since my last article. I was actually thinking of writing about watching Paradise Lost live, but then I figured you’d all think I was talking about Milton. I also considered writing about Gozo, a friend’s wedding, the beach, my excellent marks and my modesty. Then it dawned on me – perhaps I could talk about responsibility, life-changing experiences and being an underdeveloped grown-up. Yes, that should do it. Over the past two months, I’ve been ‘living alone’. (Read as: my parents own a flat and I’ve been a mere inhabitant for these two months). Now, before you judge me: just because I don’t pay any rent, electricity and water it doesn’t mean I don’t do anything. Au contraire! I have been working extremely hard here. Last time I had to wait two hours for people to install a washing machine. Then I had to give them water and smile at them until they finished. I haven’t used the washing machine yet as I’m scared I might ruin my maternity clothing- then I’d be really screwed! I made friends with the guys at the supermarket. I shop for food and cook my own meals. I even make it a point to take photos of every dish after I’m done (unless it’s particularly unimpressive, which would explain the two photos I have so far). I’ve managed to regain the joys of reading. I even psychoanalysed myself, believing I behaved just like my new favourite protagonist, Rachel. I make it a point to get my beauty sleep every now and again. It’s all a myth, I tell you. Actually, the plan was to find time to exercise everyday, but I
guess that didn’t really work out. I do have a yoga mat in my room, though. I often invite my friends over for a chat or twelve. I sometimes feel like being a good host and buy dips, pour them into fancy bowls, garnish with parsley and take credit for all the preparation. In all fairness I did try to make home-made dips last week. That resulted in a lumpy tuna dip and a pepper and almond dip which turned out pretty good considering I simply added a bunch of almonds to solidify it. Yum. I even dropped a whole bottle of olive oil on the floor which brings me to my ultimate achievement: washing the floor (I’ve actually just googled it just to make sure there was no special name for this particular house chore). In case you were wondering, olive oil is extremely messy. Especially when it’s all over the kitchen floor. I had two choices: rely on evaporation or cover the area in tissues. I opted for the latter. Soon enough, I found myself frantically turning into a clean freak. The kitchen was messy, the floor was sticky and so was I. I thought this day would never come: “Ħa jkolli naħsel l-art!” At that point, I almost felt like I’d been christened as a housewife, but the elation quickly fades, I assure you. There I was, trying to hold a squeegee as my cousin demonstrated the whole process. Whoa, not as easy as it looked. “Qisek ċapsa!” After a number of failed attempts, I became the laughing stock. My mother was almost in tears as she dropped by with a new blender. I prefer to think of them as tears of pride and joy. An hour later, the kitchen was spick and span. Needless to say, I told everyone about my achievement (except the mycousin-actually-did-most-of-it part). So, I guess the moral of the story is: live and learn. Never let a whole bottle of olive oil slip out of your hands. Oh, and all that stuff about how living alone makes you more responsible, more adult-like and poor. On the plus side, however, it feels rather nice to have some good company. That said, I’ve washed the floor again since then.
Personality of the month:
After spending our summer holidays cooped up at the Insite Office, Tamara Chectuti gives a high-five to Rita Borg as she gets to know the real woman behind the job.
What is your philosophy? My philosophy is that we can’t go through life without helping each other. It’s a question of give and take. If you keep taking without giving anything in return, you will end up with nothing left to take. Helping a person in need is the most beautiful thing you can ever do. What is your best memory throughout your career at the UOM? I worked as a beadle or messenger for quite a few years doing external jobs. Then, after suffering some injuries, I decided to work internally. I moved from Old Humanities, to telephones to other departments until I finally settled down in Students’ House. The last is my fondest memory. The fact that I could interact directly with the students day after day kept me young at heart. What was the latest time you punched out from work? If an activity or event stretched past midnight, I was sometimes kept until 2am. I remember one time something came up at KSU at one o’clock in the morning and I was called at home. I rushed to University to help. It’s part of the job. What is your motivation at work? The fact that my work keeps me active (as I always have something to do) is what keeps me motivated. I love keeping things neat and tidy, and I am obsessed with cleanliness and safety. I take care of my workplace as if it were my own house. When you feel at home at work, you will find happiness there. I never grumble when I wake up in the morning. I always look forward to work. How do you describe yourself? A very busy woman; always looking after the students and making sure everything is running smoothly.
Your star sign says that you are stubborn and that you don’t easily change your opinion or behaviour for someone else? Do you agree? No, no, quite the opposite. Although people may think I’m tough and all that, I actually really don’t like arguing or fighting. If I were to have an argument with you today I would forget about it by tomorrow. I don’t know how to bear a grudge and I always try to avoid misunderstandings. I believe it should be the same with students. Every student who enters campus is the same as the other. I try not to get too involved in student affairs but if I feel like one side is at fault I will gently inform them. I’m like the mediator. In the same way, I try not to be hard-headed myself. I often tell the students: “Today you’re a student but tomorrow you’re a worker.” What if grudges and misunderstandings follow them to the workplace? Rosa and I like to go down to the Law Courts sometimes and have a coffee at Cordina with some old students and catch up on old times. It’s funny when we remind them of that time when they had an argument with so and so. They laugh it off and wonder why they were so stubborn about it in the first place! What do you do in your free time? I like to tend to the cats on campus in my free time. However, these days I don’t really have free time. Some years back I was quite fond of photography. I used to have a really good camera and spent my time taking pictures. It was quite a hobby of mine. I still love photography. What music do you listen to? Ah… music. Now that’s a good question. I love music. My favourite singers are Neil Diamond and Demis Roussos. They have a very smooth and relaxing musical style, which you can sing along to. I once saw a musical production in London about Neil Diamond’s life. He came from a Jewish family and his father didn’t immediately approve of his son’s career choice and lifestyle. I also watched the original Mamma Mia musical in London.
What’s your star sign? Leo
photograph bernard maniscalco
Pick of the month: Book By Mario Jaccarini Book By Claire Bonello
he unsolicited gift of the title is life, given to each of us by her or his parents. For the gift to be complete the baby needs to be loved and given attention by its parents. The subtitle is there because Friedman shows by means of examples and case histories how career, lifestyle, leisure, spouse, and behaviour, among other things, are chosen as a result of an adult’s experience as a baby. The effects of parenting received, good or poor, remain. When a child’s emotional needs are not met, it will risk growing up with a compulsion to make up for the lack in ways which express the type of neglect suffered. Some examples given may seem far-fetched, but they are the result of Friedman’s life-long experience in psychiatry. It has been known for quite some time that our first years of life are foundational for the rest of our lives, but this book establishes more concretely and exactly how the influence works out in later life.
Luckily, according to Friedman, we are not bound by our parents’ mistakes. We may free ourselves if we reflect on our earliest relationships with our parents. This, in some cases, may be done alone; in others, with the help of an expert and the co-operation of an understanding spouse. Friedman covers a large range of human experience. For example, he makes one understand the cruelty of fairy tales and video games, or one becomes aware that so called adult sex material is anything but that. However, his work’s chief value is in understanding the importance of good parenting for individuals as well as for society at large. Towards the end of the book Friedman writes, ‘Understanding the power of this influence will help parents to interact more thoughtfully with their children. Small changes in small families will lead to large changes in society.’
and critical than favourable, with the general consensus being that this may very well be McEwan’s weakest novel to date. Despite this generally negative reception of Solar, it is still an engrossing read with fascinating and well-researched scientific themes and a variety of witty titbits about contemporary life. Readers will also find themselves intertwined in Beard’s mad life which includes marital problems, professional disasters, personal crises, and compulsive womanising for a man who’s pushing 70. The ending may be a tad unsatisfying, rushed, and contrived, yet McEwan never ceases to convey the struggle of human frailty, particularly that frailty which needs to deal with one of the most pressing and complex problems of our time.
olar is McEwan’s most recent work and deals with climate change in a satirical, clever and comic manner; the latter being a relatively innovative feature in McEwan’s style. The novel’s protagonist is Michael Beard, a Nobel prize-winning physicist who seems to be mirroring the predicament of the whole of humankind by being a man who ends up destroying himself due to his own greed and self-deception. It is an enjoyable read; however, the high standards previously built by McEwan in his past works are not met, suggesting that he might be more suited to darker, more serious and contemplative novels that live up to his legendary narration and compelling plots. International reception of the book has thus tended to verge on being more negative
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A precarious balance I
Neville Bezzina is a BA (Hons) graduate and the President of DESA
t seems clear that the Internet will be the next major arena in the battle between the individual’s right to privacy and the interests of various parties promoting their agenda. Lawmakers and politicians are constantly under pressure by lobbyists, advocacy groups and their peers to push forward legislative initiatives that are aimed at solving specific problems (such as child pornography, fraud and copyright infringement), but do so by seeking to control, monitor, and harness the individual’s freedom on the web. Several of these sweeping initiatives which have been taken recently at EU and global level, are clearly underthought and ineffective in the long run. Tellingly, most of these initiatives seem to be often poorly planned, negotiated in secret, or pushed aggressively through politically weak parliaments. The UK’s notorious Digital Economy Act, for instance, was rushed through the country’s Parliament in the ‘wash-up’ period before the election, while ACTA (AntiCounterfeiting Trade Agreement) has been negotiated behind closed doors between the USA, Canada, and the EU. All of this might sound far away and effectively unrelated to the local scene until one considers the overarching implications. Most worrying of all is that such legislation often transcends national borders, overriding national assemblies’ authority. With ACTA, for instance, Malta’s digital freedom is tied to the negotiating prowess of the (unelected) European Commission. It is in such cases that the European Parliament’s role is crucial in maintaining EU citizens’ interests at the forefront of the discussion. Both Louis Grech and Simon Busuttil have signed Written Declaration 12, which calls upon the Commission to favour transparency within ACTA and ‘make all documents related to the ongoing negotiations publicly available’, an action I wholeheartedly support. I question, however, the absence of the rest of the Maltese MEPs on the list of signatories. The majority of Maltese MEPs, indeed, have also signed another written declaration which, while seemingly well-intended, has unforeseen consequences. Written Declaration 29 was apparently intended to call for the setting
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up of an ‘early warning system’ for distributors of child pornography on the Internet, but it proposes to do so by extending the Data Retention Directive to what it deliberately and vaguely refers to as ‘search engines’. This last directive was passed under the UK’s Presidency of the Council in 2005, and requires Internet service providers and mobile network operators to collect and save data about users of their services. Imagine a world where Google and others would be legally compelled to gather and save data about your searches, and make the data available to the police on demand. This is what has been supported in the European Parliament through this initiative, which was aggressively marketed with emotionally loaded images of a silenced child. Most MEPs – including four Maltese ones: Simon Busuttil, Louis Grech, David Casa and Edward Scicluna – seem to have caved in to the pressure, without looking beyond the startling lack of information surrounding the actual contents of the document. For this reason, I feel justified in being concerned about this questionable action, since I would expect proper research to be carried out before putting one’s signature on a document. In truth, extending date retention to search engines at the cost of individual privacy is not the solution that will stop child pornography, or any illegal online activity, which are logically distributed in controlled peer-to-peer networks and not publicly via Google. All it would do is set up a huge virtual CCTV system. Such control assumes guilt before innocence. The risks are huge; such a huge amount of private data will inevitably be leaked or used for ulterior motives. Besides, it is impossible to manually monitor such data, and automated algorithms are shaky at best since they ignore the context of a search. In a sense, this article is a call to action to University students and youth in general to make use of democracy and voice their opinions through MEPs. If any issue should touch your life directly, it would certainly be the ability of third parties to monitor and control your internet connection. It is in such cases that the Maltese MEPs should be contacted by any means possible; their contact details are available on the Parliament’s website. It is crucial that net neutrality, privacy and freedom are maintained, and voicing our concerns with elected politicians seems to be the most effective path for doing so.
Editing God S
titching was a play which hurt no one. People had the option to pay and watch it, or to simply avoid it, much as they do films at the cinema, and same as they do strip clubs. Except that they didn’t have that option. And why? Because the censors in Malta didn’t like it and therefore decided that the rest of us should not be allowed to watch it. Reasons for banning? Its ‘extensive use of vulgar, obscene and blasphemous language that exalts perversion, vilifies the right to life... makes fun of the suffering of women in the Holocaust, and reduces women to a simple object of sexual satisfaction.’ This sounds more like an accurate description of the Bible. After all, women in the Bible were men’s slaves; in fact slavery in general was the norm, and it is replete with stories of genocide, infanticide, homicide, rape, incest, homophobia, xenophobia, and all manner of rather entertaining horror show descriptions. Interestingly, almost all of them done in the name of the very deity said to have commanded against them – God. So really, the issue of vulgarity and obscenity is a question of taste and irrelevant to the argument in the first place. If it were a genuine concern we’d be banning whole chunks of the Bible – in fact, most of it. The Bible, after all, does not have a rating and is accessible to all. Which brings me to the subject of blasphemy. Justice Joseph McKeon dictated that blasphemy remains a crime even if uttered as part of a work of fiction: “According to our law, the very fact that a person swears in public, regardless of the reason, is a contravention.” In effect, everyone who uses the Lord’s name in vain is a criminal. I’m not entirely sure how the law would intend to go about preventing such morally reprehensible behaviour, but if they need someone in charge of collecting money for every time they overhear a Maltese person blaspheme, I would personally be the first to volunteer, and become very rich very quickly. In my view, the Roman Catholic religion is responsible for ‘censoring’, if you will, God, in that it listened only to what it wanted to hear and cut out the rest. They make a habit of selective listening, don’t they? So much so, that they chose to completely omit the following Commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship
them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God...” Exodus 20:4-5 God made it clear here that he did not wish his followers to adore any statues or worship any idols, because this would make him jealous. To do so would be tantamount to blasphemy. Yet, the whole papal system is based on idolatry. So, for some reason or another, the Roman Catholic Church saw fit to cut and edit God’s word. To not take the word of God literally is, in truth, what it means to be a moderate, isn’t it? On the other hand, to take the Lord’s word literally would be fundamentalist. So I suppose that’s alright. But what, in God’s name, is blasphemy? (Pun intended). I found the following definitions: 1. a. A contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing concerning God or a sacred entity. b. The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God. 2. An irreverent or impious act, attitude, or utterance in regard to something considered inviolable or sacrosanct. 1. a) therefore indicates that any work which contains mention of God in a way that is deemed displeasing to the believers is blasphemous and should be destroyed or, as in the case of Stitching, banned. Simple. 1. b) implies that any of the Easter plays that depict someone pretending to be Jesus, or indeed any play or film in which one individual pretends to be God, is blasphemous. Yes it may be fiction, but as Justice McKeon pointed out, even in a work of fiction, blasphemy is not permitted. And number 2, outlines the reason this whole fuss surrounding Stitching was kicked up in the first place, and something that scares me very much: the idea that something is inviolable or sacrosanct. Too often this idea of sanctity is used as a shield to protect and uphold what is ultimately no more than an idea, that some of us do not share. Religion needs such a safeguard because it cannot withstand ridicule and questioning, and it knows it. We allow any other idea to be criticized and questioned, even vilified, but heaven forbid it should be Religion, right? How is it that Norman Lowell was allowed to spew his racist propaganda on an unrated programme on national television, but a play containing some blasphemy was banned? Can the government, and Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon – whom I personally consider unfit to do his job – disregard human rights in this manner?
aNDREW gALEA is currently reading for a Degree in English
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the genesis of post-grad life
42 the insiter • Special Edition
Graduation balls, cheeky t-shirts and taunting banners are a yearly fixture on campus as thousands of students don their toga to mark the end of their stay at Tal-Qroqq. what future are newly graduates facing ONCE they step out of our Alma Mater? This month, Noel Camilleri investigates the realities facing our young professionals.
The international economic meltdown of the last two years has placed a spotlight on the role of tertiary education, its worth and its place in an economic system which has suffered serious derailments. Furthermore, prospective university entrants around the world face questions related to the validity of a university degree in the face of tough job market competition, where recruiters are demanding higher standards from the pool of available applicants. Last month, the Association of Graduate Recruiters in the UK highlighted how employers are increasingly insisting on at least a Second Upper (2:1) degree classification from potential employees as many graduates are competing for a shrinking pool of jobs. Lecturers’ Perspectives Maltese students are perhaps not saddled with the idea of student debts, top-up fees and graduate taxes, as recently proposed by the British Business Secretary Vince Cable. However, living on a small archipelago presents its own set of problems. This feature seeks to identify the obstacles hampering Maltese students, and whether those not following vocational courses will face a tough post-graduation scenario. Are students in certain courses more advantaged than others? Is Malta suffering from a ‘brain drain’ of its best human resources? To analyse this, I sought the opinion of a number of lecturers, as well as students who have finished their undergraduate courses or are already in full-time employment. Professor Godfrey Baldacchino, Visiting Professor of Sociology and Chairperson of the Board of the Centre for Labour Studies at the University of Malta and a Research Chair (Island Studies) at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada, provided me with details about the first graduate tracer study he had carried out in 1997, on the initiative of the Workers’ Participation Development Centre (now Centre for Labour Studies) at the UoM; the Employment and Training Corporation; and the Foundation for Human Resources development. He explained that, “its main objective was to develop a more informed understanding of what graduates, now in the labour market, as well as employers, felt about the quality of the ‘service’ that they had been given by our university.” Prof. Baldacchino went on to state that most students had declared that they did not find exams and tests educational at all: “they rather felt that they learned much more from individual and group project work.” He described how students who did not pursue a vocational programme were more interested in getting a degree which would give them the ability “to approach any job with the right flexibility, discipline, linguistic and organisational skills rather than landing them a job.”
The division between vocational (law, accountancy, architecture, education, dentistry, IT, engineering, medicine, pharmacy, health care, social work and theology) and more liberal programmes (arts, natural sciences and social sciences) is considered by Prof. Baldacchino to be crucial in the way the respective categories of students plan their post-University life. He says that, “while the former have a particular time plan that develops around the parameters of a particular profession or career as they may have potential employers in mind early on, the latter expect a period of short term assignments as/while one determines more clearly and confidently what are one’s strengths and preferences in relation to realistic labour market needs and demands.” Strikingly, Prof. Baldacchino said that ultimately some will continue to change from one job to another as “the best paid workers do not usually spend more than three to five years with the same employer.” Ultimately, Maltese students need to lessen their unrealistic expectations about the labour market. Prof. Baldacchino asserts that some newly-graduates act as if “society has some kind of obligation towards providing them with their dream job.” Moving on to the often talked about image of students accepting jobs not related to their studies, Prof. Baldacchino quickly shot down such reasoning as he said that the broad relevance of tertiary education should not be linked to one job, even more so as many employers are not so much interested in what future employees have graduated in as the fact that they have graduated. He is equally critical of any perceived notion
of a ‘brain drain’, as he states that “in an island state with a land area of 120 square miles, some brain circulation will do us a lot of good.” Crucial to prospective undergraduates are the resources that the University has at its disposal in guiding and mentoring students in the career paths and postgraduate study options they opt for. On this subject, Prof. Baldacchino expresses his view that the University “has never had as many resources dedicated to support students in their search for satisfying careers as it does today.” According to Prof. Baldacchino, a grey area is found in the field of opportunities for self-employment, where “a negative correlation between University education and selfemployment still exists.”, as not enough emphasis is placed on nurturing such paths. Finally, Prof. Baldacchino strikes a cautious note as he warns that “the international recession crisis is a timely humbling experience for us all and an opportunity to think outside the proverbial box and strategically re-evaluate our options, as graduates have not been exempted from massive redundancies. University education is not just a way of ‘waiting out’ the financial crisis until the economic sky clears again.” The rationale behind the undergraduate course structure was examined by Professor Ivan Callus. He discussed the possible consequences of a tertiary education system which is overly shaped by its rigidity and pre-determined career paths, rather than one which encourages creativity and critical thinking. He said that while such a “situation might be perceived as providing security and certainty, particularly in the short term, it is debatable whether it is quite as desirable as is often made out,” as ultimately “a university undergraduate course should not be seen as some kind of apprenticeship scheme, but as an opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills and critical insight that can help with the preparedness for negotiating the next steps in one’s career path.” Prof. Callus questions the often invoked sentiment that students expect an undergraduate course to provide them with a “comprehensively packaged campus-based rite of passage to their salaried or self-employed future,” as he thinks that among students there exists sufficient “understanding of the fact that undergraduate programmes are a stepping stone to postgraduate and/or other qualifications,” the importance of which is fundamental in today’s world. He reiterated this in his reply to my question on why some graduates have no choice but to take jobs that are not necessarily related to their academic endeavours. Prof. Callus asserts that one can list a whole set of reasons why this happens, including “the current economic situation, the strength of one’s qualifications in relation to one’s peers and the lack of complementary dynamics between undergraduate course design and employer expectations.” In particular, he blames the idea prevalent in some areas “that a three-year undergraduate programme can possibly make anyone instantly and fully workplace-ready in today’s complex and demanding environments.” Prof. Callus is heartened by the number of students taking up DegreePlus courses, because he argues in favour of a shift in mentality that
encourages students to be equipped to analyse and react to any change they encounter. Regarding the idea of packing one’s bags and leaving the country soon after graduation, Prof. Callus says that “it is certainly understandably attractive to many graduates, and it is splendid and gratifying that the option exists, because any opportunity that runs counter to insularity is to be welcomed and embraced.” At the same time, he said that if one believes in the prospects Malta can offer, one might choose to stay and try to implement change for everyone’s benefit. Prof. Callus also refers to writers such as Don DeLillo or Martin Amis, who “are very good at showing how one can be provincial and insular, and even have one’s prospects curtailed, while living in the middle of a large metropolis.” Fr John Vella’s contribution, as Head of the Counselling Unit, was set to gauge the psychological exertions that students must endure when their exit from Tal-Qroqq approaches. When asked what pressures students face in the run-up to graduation, he said that though this varies, many “are overwhelmed with anxiety about their future after they leave University. He went on to explain that from his experience, students in courses not tied to one occupation are not particularly prone to extra pressure. Rev. Vella contends that ‘the University is very cognitively based to develop mostly academic theoretical knowledge and students may not always see its usefulness.’ The limitations of Malta’s labour market, imposed by the archipelago’s geographical limitations were highlighted by Rev. Vella when questioned about the limited prospects some students might face. However, in his view, voluntary work and involvement in student organisations can help one to partially offset this problem, as the skills acquired in such stints are often vital in fending off competition in the job market. Echoing, Prof. Baldacchino’s thoughts that such activities can give one a head start, Rev. Vella argued in favour of a shift in emphasis towards “the development of the whole person.”
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Students’ Views The same sentiments were generally sounded by the students who have just recently passed through our University system. DESA (Department of English Students Association) President and newly graduate Neville Bezzina said that the actual problem after obtaining a Humanities degree is making the correct choice as the actual degree ‘opens up several possible venues to pursue.’ Neville indicated that in the final months of third year he scouted out various possibilities through mainly ‘online means’, though “still for a couple of weeks in July, I felt somewhat overpowered by a sense of uncertainty.” He continued to say that the undergraduate experience “has shaped the way I think critically and approach problems, allowed me to be more flexible and gave me ample opportunities to mature my research and interpersonal skills, even through involvement in student organisations. All students need to understand that to bridge the gap between education and work they need to adapt quickly.” The importance of more mentoring schemes was illustrated by Neville when he was asked about the way the University can improve the prospects of its graduates. He indicated that ‘more diversity in careers conventions, information meetings, seminars and perhaps negotiations with the private sector for work placements would go a long way in achieving this.” Undoubtedly, the launch of DegreePlus was one mammoth step in the right direction for all students but especially for Humanities ones who are now able to widen their skills and employ the knowledge gained in a variety of situations. The ‘brain drain’ idea was immediately debunked by Neville as a myth, “where in an increasingly connected Europe and globalised world, I don’t see how we can still talk about a brain drain. The fact that more young graduates make use of their increased mobility is a bonus in the long run. That said, as time goes on, Malta is becoming more attractive for many people as a place to start a career. Johann Zarb, a B.Sc Hons Physiotherapy graduate, spoke of the need for more on the job training, because a;though the course he followed is theoretically well set, the practical side of things is sometimes set aside. He spoke highly of the work placements they had in government hospitals but also illustrated the need for such types of assignments to be extended to private hospitals so that prospective employees will have an unambiguous experience of what is expected of them. Johann also spoke about the need to join a student organisation and involve oneself in some type of work, be it voluntary or otherwise, which can enhance one’s prospects once students find themselves outside university. B. Communications and History graduate Emil Calleja Bayliss said that at the moment he is keeping all options open
as he is assessing job vacancies before plotting his next career move. However, he also talked about his desire to find a temporary occupation for a definite period of one year before enrolling into a postgraduate course next year. Emil is appreciative of the help lecturers have provided during his undergraduate formation, particularly in relation to hands-on experiences and training, even though the course structure may not be conducive to such experiments. At the same time, Emil spoke highly of his involvement in activities not strictly related to his academic studies and the summer jobs he has held for the past couple of years, where in his own words he has managed to “integrate some of his skills into the employment world.” He is also sympathetic towards those who leave the island in search of pastures new as in some areas “one can only dream of getting jobs in Malta due to market restrictions.” Emil is, however, in favour of government restrictions in fields where a shortage of expertise is pressing, though he qualifies that these should only be for a minimum of one year. Maria Pace Gasan, a BA (Hons) English student who will be graduating in November said that “though having this degree was always my dream, I am somewhat at a loss now.” Maria will take a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course throughout the next academic year, as she tries to channel her undergraduate degree into a specific employment alternative. Asked whether her three year stay at the University prepared her well enough to face the outside world, she said that “the nature itself of an intensive English course makes it next to impossible to get hands-on experience.” However, she qualified this by stating that the Linguistics part of the course may prove to be directly effective in careers related to research gathering, data collection and survey designs. Maria also viewed as highly important the involvement one might get into an organisation, which may not just be student-related. Nevertheless, she said that such experience might not make one more ‘employable’ if students are only involved in it for the purpose of ‘beefing up’ their CV. When asked about the brain drain, Maria said that Malta is ‘at the end of the day a small pond for big fish, which ultimately means that ones, who like me, do not have the guts to pack their bags and leave are afforded more opportunities.” Clayton Hili, another student who has just finished his BA (Hons) degree in English, concurs
with Neville that ‘uncertainty’ is not something which has dominated his thoughts for the last months, as it was his love for the arts which led him to embark on this path in the first place. Clayton acknowledged the fact that he is much surer of what he would not wish to become rather than “actually knowing what he’d like to be in the future,” as he has decided against entering into the teaching profession. He is now resolute in following an M.A. in Interpreting, partly because he has been convinced by past students who have followed this programme. Clayton is perfectly happy with the idea of continuing his postgraduate education but at the same time is aware of the need to ‘find a means to support myself and start a career in an area which interests me and which keeps the bar high enough for me never to feel like I’m doing something less than I’m capable of.” Clayton feels that an undergraduate degree is “useful in many ways, as it imparts knowledge about new ways of thinking, problem-solving, research methodologies, and other skills that are flexible enough to be applicable to any practical situation in any workplace.” Finally, he is also conscious of the need to involve oneself in some type of association or activity, being himself a member of DESA, and editor of its flagship journal TEXT. He is glad that during the undergraduate years he managed to gain experience in the dynamics of ‘team politics’ and decision-making processes that are part and parcel of any executive role. Meanwhile, Claire Vella, a B. Psychology (Hons) graduate, is conscious of the fact that Psychology careers in Malta are still quite restricted. Commenting on the need for more job placements, Claire said that a good course model is the BA (Hons) in Social Work, where students are exposed to a wide variety of job environments. She views her TEFL teaching summer job as being quite practical in helping her to deal with students who
may be poles apart from each other in the way they behave and interact. Scott Grech, a BA (Hons) graduate in English and now a journalist with The Malta Independent, said that if one decides against finding a job after graduation, a PGCE or a Masters degree are essential in making one more employable and as such, on completion, “employment opportunities would increase overnight.” Scott said that after finishing his undergraduate studies he was not sure whether to continue to postgraduate level but decided to follow a ‘gap’ year after discovering an opportunity at The Malta Independent and being chosen. On the practicality or otherwise of the undergraduate course, Scott said that though he can barely remember the tiniest intricacies of what he had written in his assignments, he is grateful for the general structure and knowledge gained in those three years. He believes that Malta should consider other options related to the age at which students enroll into a tertiary education course, as many are still unsure of what to do when they turn eighteen: “controversial as it may seem, looking into the possibility of increasing the school leaving age to eighteen may not be that bad as an idea, though serious and long-term economic and social assessments need to be done before something like this is carried out.” Scott feels that everyone has a right to decide whether to leave the island or stay here, even though, “it appears that the number of those who leave Malta after graduating to go and live abroad is quite limited; something which bodes well for the country in the long run.” Not much else can be said after this plethora of opinions but, as we near another marathon of graduation ceremonies, everyone should reflect on the future of our University and the provision of tertiary education.
46 the insiter • Special Edition
Rising stars secure European victory
Sarah Pace, a young basketball player, speaks to Ivan Borg about her team’s victory in the European Cup Division C.
ll basketball enthusiasts know that it is the quintessential team sport. Any real success, at any level of the game, is only possible if the team plays as a unit, which is why the Maltese ladies’ recent success is a sure sign of some inspired play. I caught up with Sarah Pace for some of her hoop-related insights, and her account of the national team’s recent mission: a winning effort in the European Cup Division C.
I asked her what the big deal is about making the national team. Silly question! Her surprisingly level-headed answer was: “It is a great feeling when you put on the uniform. People acknowledge who you are and show interest in your achievements. It’s also the highest achievement in local basketball, so of course it’s the aim of every Maltese basketball player.” The competition took place earlier than usual, which meant there was less time for preparation. However, no excuses can be made come game time, and the team was expected to hit the ground running. It did. Two victories over Scotland and Wales gave the team a good initial boost. The next fixture was going to be more problematic. Moldova’s ladies had a significant height advantage, an important factor in basketball. Meticulous preparation, and analysis of the opposition’s game plan gave the Maltese girls the confidence they needed to face the match. One virtuoso performance later, Malta was set to play Armenia in the final. “That means we were playing the final against the home team, which is always tough. They have the advantage of knowing the court better and, of course, the crowd. And what a crowd! As we entered the gym for the final, there were 2,000 people cheering Armenia. It was definitely quite an atmosphere, people booing you as you get the ball and cheering when you miss. The game was tough as they were similar to us with respect to speed and height. It was a matter of who performed best on the day. The crowd was so loud we could barely hear each other speak. At the same time this makes you want to play harder, and draws the team closer…” The match itself turned out to be as tough as expected, and the score was close throughout. With two minutes left to play, it seemed Malta would be able to hold on for the victory …but nothing is a given in basketball. “The last few minutes seem never-ending. I kept looking at the clock and it seemed that time had frozen; it feels like the longest two minutes of your life. As the buzzer went off, there was a sigh of relief, followed by a lot of screaming, hugging, and jumping. The local crowd was not too pleased of course, booing us a number of times. But that doesn’t really bother you… after all, we won!” Having survived the celebrations, and enjoyed the boost of their victory, Sarah quickly gets back to why she enjoys basketball generally. “If you’re having a bad day you know that you have another four people on the court working hard to help you out, and another seven on the bench cheering you on. That’s a great feeling.” That’s fair enough, but one is left wondering whether the team is a means to an end, or an end in itself…
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