Gheziez Studenti, Merhba f´Malta! - Dear Students, Welcome in Malta!
My name is Marie’ Claire, I am from Malta and I am doing a European Voluntary Service in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic. I chose to do my only year volunteering, with the organization Člověk v tísni, since this was a way of really giving something to the society and not to a profit concerned sector.
Apart from our day-to-day work in our clubs, we have other tasks to do such as intercultural workshops. Recently, I organised an intercultural workshop at Základní škole Neštěmická in Vyhlídka. My workshop’s aim was to improve children’s geographical knowledge in an informal manner. The children had no idea which country I was coming from, so their task was to really pay attention to the presentation I had prepared for them and eventually try and guess my native country. The children enjoyed the workshop a lot, as they found it very engaging and also a nice break from their daily routine. Most interestingly, the children participated highly, even though the workshop was held in English. Surprisingly enough, some of the students managed to guess my nationality, some thought that I come from Sicily and others said that I come from the Vatican City, as similar to my country, it is also very small and very religious!
Following the successful workshop at the secondary school, I then had another workshop in YMCA organization in Ústí nad Labem. This was targeted more towards fun and culture in my country as opposed to the previous workshop. The previous one had put more emphasis on history and geographical information since it was actually part of a formal education project. Age of the children/teens varied a lot, and therefore I was very happy to see that the presentation appealed to all of them, where most of them participated and asked several questions. Some of them were also interested in the Maltese language and managed to learn few words, such as simple greetings in Maltese (sahha – hello, bongu – good morning, bonswa – good evening, caw – bye, merhba – welcome). It´s the only semitic (arabic) language written in the latin alphabet.
I found the intercultural workshops to be very rewarding experiences so far. Given that a lot of people do not have the slightest idea that my country even exists, and those who do, have very little knowledge about it (particularly the fact that we have our own Maltese language), therefore I feel very grateful that I am being provided with the opportunity to talk about my country. With this in mind, I made the best out of this opportunity to present Malta in a different context to the one which we are most popular for, which is simply as a tourist attraction and I do hope I managed to let everyone know of our unique qualities as a country.