“We are Maltese”. “We are European”. Often do we hear these phrases in our everyday lives here on our little rock, but how many of us really know what Europe is, or can appreciate what we can take from it?
We asked a few Maltese youths to see what came to mind when ‘Europe’ is mentioned, and the results were diverse. To mention some, one person told us that the most privileged citizens come to mind, showing a recognition that the EU has led to a better life for many people, but also a depiction of the ever-growing distance between those whose lives are improving and those experiencing the contrary.
Two people out of a total of five told us that to them, Europe means rights, more specifically, human rights, showing a sense of security knowing that their rights will be assured in the Europe of today, but also showing how not everyone in this world has guaranteed rights, and that we are the lucky few.
“Europe is a mafia, but they help citizens”
Scepticism was shown at one point though, when a student told us that to her, Europe reminds her of something like a mafia with a good side, that of helping citizens. And a very worrying review this is, as we see young people seeing corruption and elitism as the main hallmarks of a supra-national institution such as is the EU.
Lastly, one stated that being in the EU meant he did not live in a poor country, followed by his disapproving of other countries among the EU28 for not helping with the Mediterranean crisis situation.
“Europe for the previous years meant for me a sort of protection as it meant that I was not living in a poor country. Yet, nowadays, I feel betrayed by the other European countries as a lot of them are trying to put the irregular immigrants as a burden on us, rather than dividing them between all the countries”
In a nutshell, when we hear about Europe, most Maltese people, even the more open-minded youths, go straight to the EU and its pros and cons. All is well, but it is because of this that we often miss out on realising what Europe truly has in store for us. Alas, there are a few who have ventured outwards of our tiny islands and braved into what seems to us as the outside world, even if it is in fact only part of our common European home. One of these is Emma Calleja, who is currently striving to pass on the message to as many Maltese youths as possible and tell them that they don’t need to deprive themselves of experiencing different cultures and lifestyles and that taking a small risk will often pay off.
“There’s a fascinating world out there”
“There is more to Europe than just European Institutions..we have a skill-set that allows us to complement the needs of a global market”, she said, and it is indeed true. Maltese youths have many an attribute that would allow them to thrive in Europe, the difference only lies between those who choose to exploit them and those who don’t. In her case, Emma works with a Swiss company, called Cognizant. This company’s mission is to envision, build and run more innovative and efficient businesses for its clients, a concept never yet seen, let alone understood, here in Malta. The company uses its command of process and technology knowledge, together with the strategic insight of its associates so to develop effective solutions to vital issues facing people, communities and the entire globe.
Back home on our island, she occupies roles in a multitude of activities and educational experiences, all of which branch into a variety of fields, yet are rooted in one common aim, exposing young minds to Europe.
Upon reflection on the point she makes, one needs not be a genius to realise how blind we as a population have been to the monstrous resource sitting just above us on the map. For a long time, we’ve been taught that the biggest and only resource Malta had was the human resource. This has been the point upon which our society has for decades strived to develop. What we didn’t process thus far though, is that there is a universe of potential we have left untapped in the same society. What’s more surprising is how simple the cause and solution to this phenomenon are.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference”
Imagine a group of people walking along a road, surrounded by a thin layer of forest. None from within that group ever ventured anywhere away from the path, because none knew any other feasible reality than the one they have now, and since it is the only way, it is the best way. One day, one of them braved into the unknown, took the risk. Said risk was well worthwhile though, as the person left a narrow path, only to find a major highway full of people moving together, with diversity as their hallmark, rather than their fear, and finding the best way to keep progressing together when problems arise.
You’ve probably already made the connection yourself, in case you didn’t though, see the people in the first scenario as the Maltese population, the ones in the second scenario as the European society, and the venturing soul as what each and every one of us should aim to be, it is the personification of the value of experience and self-growth as one superseding that of written exams and qualifications.
Does sound a bit too utopian and idealistic huh? Well, not necessarily. The level of realism in this entire article depends on and is directly proportional to the level of willingness you as a European citizen have to discover your home, and in doing so, to discover yourself. It has been done, it is done, and hopefully, it will be done more commonly amongst the youths living on these two rocks in the Mediterranean.
Today we managed to introduce to you one case of a person who went out into the relatively uncharted but rest assured that there are many more, and you would not be the first one to try. And so we encourage you, Maltese youths, to not be afraid of the world you will be leading in a few years’ time. Europe’s future depends on us, we are its future, hence, it is high time we start experiencing it as our present so that we too could have a part in the formation of the Europe of tomorrow.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down”
Written by: Gianluca Vella