You might say that Mal­ta is at the South­ern edge of Europe. After all, the African coast is not very far. On the oth­er hand: Val­let­ta is the Euro­pean cap­i­tal of cul­ture in 2018, putting the Mal­tese cap­i­tal in the spot­light. “We try to set up an event around this theme”, says Annet­to Schem­bri, Vice-Pres­i­dent & PR Respon­si­ble of AEGEE-Val­let­ta. In the eighth seg­ment of the Gold­en Times series “AEGEE on the edge of Europe” we take a clos­er look at this great anten­na, which gave AEGEE already four statu­to­ry events in 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2013.

Annet­to Schem­bri

Gold­en Times: How Euro­pean-mind­ed are nor­mal peo­ple and stu­dents in your city on y scale from 0 (not Euro­pean-mind­ed at all) to 10 (extreme­ly Euro­pean-mind­ed)?
Annet­to Schem­bri: In my opin­ion stu­dents nowa­days are extreme­ly Euro­pean-mind­ed. Since Mal­ta joined the EU, there has been a change in men­tal­i­ty. There was more progress with all its pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive influ­ence. Stu­dents and young peo­ple are aware of their rights, aware that they are free to trav­el, to explore, to learn, to achieve, to be employed… Stu­dents’ sense of secu­ri­ty in Mal­ta, with Val­let­ta as the cap­i­tal city, comes from the right of hav­ing good free edu­ca­tion and health care. Stu­dents are sec­u­lar, this is mak­ing them more Euro­pean-mind­ed. The young gen­er­a­tion in Mal­ta, which is a 316 km squared island nation, knows that it is pre­cious and extreme­ly need­ed espe­cial­ly upon fac­ing the first chal­lenges of a Euro­pean soci­ety with an age­ing pop­u­la­tion. Nor­mal youths know how to use tech­nol­o­gy but some­times lack loy­al­ty and sense of com­mit­ment. Stu­dents are more inter­est­ed in jobs which make them more like­ly to be employed any­where in Europe and there­fore tra­di­tion­al trades are being lost and for­got­ten… That is just a brief sum­ma­ry of my thoughts… So, I would tell: 9.75.

Roger Buge­ja found­ed AEGEE-Val­let­ta in 1997

GT: How many mem­bers do you have? And when was your anten­na found­ed?
Annet­to: Our anten­na signed the Con­ven­tion d’Adhesion at Ago­ra Ankara on 2nd of Novem­ber 1997. At the moment we do not have a large num­ber of reg­is­tered mem­bers, but we are try­ing to engage new mem­bers and get the organ­i­sa­tion run­ning. Past mem­bers who had been active­ly involved in AEGEE still remain friends and con­tribute some of their expe­ri­ence where nec­es­sary. The board is made up of expe­ri­enced or rather old mem­bers who have been part of the anten­na for a num­ber of years; one of our tar­gets this year is to increase the num­ber of new­bies.

GT: Is it hard to find mem­bers?
Annet­to: Yes, it is hard — but at the end of the day I am a strong believ­er that if you find the right group of friends, who might be inter­est­ing in trav­el­ling they would def­i­nite­ly join and become active.

 

The Euro­pean Boards Meet­ing in 2013 was one of four statu­to­ry events in Val­let­ta.

GT: What do you tell poten­tial mem­bers when they say: “AEGEE sounds nice, but all the events are far away…”?
Annet­to: Although Mal­ta is in the south­ern parts of Europe, it is only one hour far by plane from Spain, Italy and Greece.  Dis­tance is only how you per­ceive it.

GT: How much does trav­el­ling cost to Cen­tral Euro­pean loca­tions, such as Munich or Vien­na?
Annet­to: Low sea­son: 40 Euros, both ways. High sea­son: 180 Euros, both ways. Not includ­ing lug­gage. We have Air Mal­ta, Ryan Air, Wiz­zAir, Vuel­ing and Easy­Jet, which are the most com­mon air­line car­ri­ers.

In 2016 AEGEE-Val­let­ta organ­ised a great Net­work Meet­ing.

GT: Are there also pos­i­tive aspects from your geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion?
Annet­to: Geo­graph­i­cal­ly we are at the cen­tre of the Mediter­ranean Sea, so basi­cal­ly we are close to Africa, Greece, Eura­sia and the Ital­ian and Iber­ian Penin­su­la. Val­let­ta is an active port, mak­ing it well con­nect­ed with Sici­ly via a fre­quent fer­ry ser­vice. Also we are the step­ping stone to devel­op­ing north­ern African coun­tries which might need assis­tance and coop­er­a­tion. I hope we as Mal­tese are not the end of the chain with a miss­ing loop. Integri­ty, respect, free­dom of move­ment and social inclu­sion have always been fun­da­men­tal val­ues which as Euro­pean cit­i­zens we always kept at heart. Apart from all this, our islands are in a per­fect lat­i­tude, in fact I’m soon head­ing for a jog in the coun­try side with sun­shine and an aver­age of 15 degrees Cel­sius mea­sured in the shade.

GT: Rough­ly how many for­eign mem­bers are attend­ing your events per year?
Annet­to: Approx­i­mate­ly 100 mem­bers. We gen­er­al­ly do one major inter­na­tion­al event per year. There are oth­ers who do a per­son­al vis­it and man­age to vis­it the island pri­vate­ly, meet­ing their old friends whom have met dur­ing a past AEGEE event in Mal­ta or any­where around Europe.

AEGEE-Val­let­ta is know for its great sum­mer events.

GT: Did you coop­er­ate in 2017 with oth­er anten­nae or do you plan that for 2018?
Annet­to: We are open for new ideas, and col­lab­o­ra­tion might sound inter­est­ing. Maybe we set up a sem­i­nar with a par­tic­u­lar theme with anoth­er anten­na.

GT: Which inter­na­tion­al events are you plan­ning for 2018?
Annet­to: We are lack­ing some human resources this year but we try to set up an event since Val­let­ta is the Euro­pean cap­i­tal of cul­ture for 2018!

GT: Do you some­times wish your anten­na was more cen­tral or do you enjoy being at the edge of Europe?
Annet­to: I guess it would be eas­i­er to book your train tick­ets and head north, south, east or west. But first you have to check for any snow alert warn­ings or delays — so guess I pre­fer to enjoy my loca­tion here in the sun­ny edge of the EU.

Val­let­ta is a beat­i­ful place.

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