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The UoM Mdina Knights Futsal Team: Interview with Gilli Amato Gauci

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Have you ever wondered what would be like for the University of Malta to have its own, officially recognized sports team? Seems like something out of a cheesy, Hollywood college movie right? Recently however, the Malta University Sports Club (MUSC) and the KSU managed to establish an official UoM Futsal team, in collaboration with the Mdina Knights Football club. This is not a dream, I repeat, this is not a dream.

I decided to have a chat with Gilli Amato Gauci, the Director of Events at the MUSC who, along with current KSU President Gayle Lynn Callus, was co-founder of this project. “This had been a project in the making for quite some time now; it was first mentioned in the SDM manifesto last year, and now I’m glad that it has come to fruition,” Amato Gauci said.

When I asked why the collaboration was with Mdina Knights, Amato Gauci said that the reasons were two-fold:

“Mdina Knights were looking into the prospect of establishing a futsal team; we were too. Apart from that, we were only interested in doing it our way, that is a completely student-oriented futsal team, which is what we achieved.” By which the question obviously asks itself: “student-oriented?”

“Basically, we are only aiming to involve students from Junior College, the Univeristy or post-graduates who have graduated two years ago or less,” Amato Gauci said.  ”It is not our interest to go out and take random players from other clubs, as we would rather prefer having a close-knit team from the University representing the University.”

Doesn’t this limitation make for the possibility of an understaffed team? I was actually surprised to learn that the numbers who signed up have already exceeded their expectations. More than 40 persons have already signed up for either the squad or the staff around the team, and the recruitment is still ongoing for the next three weeks.

“We were aiming to have around 25 players and staff forming part of the team, but I never expected such a large interest in the first few days. They will all be under a committee enacted to ensure the smooth it inning of the whole operation, of which I am President.”

Gilli Amato Gauci

Gilli Amato Gauci, MUSC’s Director of Events

 

It seems all too good to be true, but eventually we turned our heads to the problems that undertaking such a task can bring: “I am not able to divulge too much financial information since we’re still at the initial stages, but I can tell you that the registration fee for the FMA First Division is €1,200. (Ouch) Add the money spent on renting the training pitches at the trial pitch, which we are using twice weekly, which both organizations forked out of their own pockets, and you can see that it is a big financial bill… yet doable.”

And yet, the future looks bright for this newly-born futsal club: far from being a one time event, Amato Gauci aims to make this a yearly project. “It is a win-win situation for all parties involved: promoting health is one of MUSC’s & KSU’s foremost priorities, and such an opportunity does exactly that. At the same time, we are using this as an exposure of what the University, and students in general, can contribute in the local sports area.”

Their recent BBQ at Golden Bay, and their first friendly against Mosta Futsal Club have been first steps to this exciting sports club: for all those interested, there are still trials and tryouts being organised. For more information, be sure to check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/unversityfutsalmdinaknights

Posted in Interviews

The young and talented Lauren Aquilina

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Malta’s Farsons Beer Festival is one of the most awaited festivals by the public. Apart from the beer drinking, this festival serves as a platform for new and aspiring Maltese artists. Lauren Aquilina is one of these artists. Aquilina is a nineteen year old young lady, who has been making it in the music industry in England. She’s an inspiration to many young singers in Malta, proving that if you are dedicated to doing something you really love, you will get there.

Tonight at 10pm, Lauren Aquilina will be singing at the Beer Festival for the second time. Having attended Aquilina’s performance last year, I can say that tonight’s performance is not to be missed! So in order to get you all started below you will find Lauren Aquilina’s debut song released back in 2012, and an exclusive interview with Lauren herself.

 

Nicole: How long have you been in the music industry? 

Lauren: I have been signed for a few months, but releasing music since I was 17. So two years I guess!

 

Nicole: Could you tell me something about your music, what is the aim behind it?

Lauren: I use writing as a form of release, there was never really any aim, I’m just glad people seem to like it! It’s all very personal and fairly chilled.

 

Nicole: Which song of yours is your favourite? What’s the story behind it?

Lauren: My favourite song of mine is actually a new one I’ve written for the album, it’s about wanting to be free of something and finally feeling that release. I can’t reveal much more than that!

 

Nicole: Who are your musical inspirations?

Lauren: I love most music but in particular Coldplay, Stereophonics and Annie Lennox were massive influences whilst I was growing up. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Bon Iver and M83.
Nicole: Are there any new songs to be released soon?

Lauren: I’m writing lots at the moment for my debut album which should hopefully be out in 2015!

 

Nicole: Could you kindly tell me something about your relation to Malta?

Lauren: My Dad is Maltese which makes me half Maltese :-) I have a lot of family here and have been visiting often since I was really little.

 

Nicole: How do you like the country?

Lauren: I love it! It’s my favourite place in the world, my paradise.

Posted in Interviews, Music

Can KSU reform a dying KPS?

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The Social Policy Commission (KPS) at the University of Malta allows students to debate social issues. While it has so far only been accessible to those students who form part of a student organization, plans are in the works to open it up to all University students. Andrea Gonzi asked KPS Commissioner Becky Micallef and KPS Coordinator Andrew Muscat for details about this revamp.

 

Andrea: Let’s start with a rather pointed question. Is KPS dying?

Andrew: When I was contesting for the (KSU) elections, I had a couple of weeks to study the exact role of KPS and how it is implemented in reality. What I found out was that participation was at a minimum. So I came up with a soluton to make KPS more effective by extending its reach to students who are not members of student organisations.

Becky: In practice it looked like it was dying, maybe because the topics that were discussed weren’t very relevant to students. The structure needed a change. Basically what we’re going to do this year, apart from making KPS more open, is find topics that touch upon students’ lives, topics that students will be interested in discussing. The seven different themes that will be discussed this year will be health and well-being, Green Campus, the gender identity bill, drug decriminalization, the right to privacy in light of Snowden’s revelations, transport and parking, and irregular immigration. We’re also giving student organisations and students alike the opportunity to tell us ‘listen, we want to discuss this issue because we think it’s important’. If we feel that it really reflects the student interest, we will set up an ad hoc committee and start discussing it right away.

 

Andrea: Can you explain what the changes themselves will actually entail?

Andrew: I make a distinction between the substantive part of KPS, which is the policies per se, and the procedural part. While I find the substantive part quite reassuring, I feel that the procedural part is lacking. So I’m focusing more on the procedure; on the way we should tackle things, on the way we should discuss, on the way we should issue press releases, on the procedure of ad hoc committees, etc.. etc.. We’re trying to hit the ground running by implementing a procedure that would make things run more smoothly.

 

Andrea: Let’s take the example used by last year’s KSU executive where press releases were discussed. Do you think that this ‘unstructured’ debate was due to a lack of procedure?

Andrew: I believe so. I don’t think that it was ineffective but we can do better by anticipating social issues. For example, I am informed that the gender identity bill will only come out next spring. So we’re quite early in choosing it as a topic for discussion. We have a year to plan out strategically; we can talk to experts, we can study comparatively. Therefore, as students, we will be prepared. That’s where I think that procedure is extremely important.

 

Andrea: Why is there such a focus on these subcommittees and how will this work out procedurally?

Andrew: I don’t want it to be highly-bureaucratic or technical. These ad hoc committees and subcommittees will form part of the KPS structure. KPS will direct these subcommittees with the only difference that students from outside organisations can take part.

During election week I had formed a chart. The committees will serve as a guideline. Why? Because we need a more specific committee. For example, if we are talking about a medical issue, I expect medical students to be present. The committees will guide KPS.

 

Andrea: Do you feel that this type of arrangement opens up KSU’s door to the involvement of more students when compared to the previous systems?

Andrew: I hope so. That’s our aim.

 

Andrea: Becky, you had already put forward a few points and suggestions during the run up to your election. Can you outline the changes that you yourself are proposing?

Becky: Basically, the changes I had proposed back then were in line with what Andrew had proposed in SDM’s manifesto. The ad hoc committees that I suggested were just ideas of potential topics for discussion. I had researched some topics that I thought are of interest to students, and indeed some of them will be discussed by KPS this year. Also, what I had in mind was for the ad hoc committees to not only focus on writing reports but also on organisating activities or events that could attract an audience.

 

Andrea: The KSU executive of two years ago had tried to introduce a public dialogue which proved to be quite unsuccessful. Can you outline how your approach will succeed where theirs failed?

Becky: I think that the ad-hoc committees will make a big difference because it will not simply be about KSU reaching to the public. Rather, KSU will have ad hoc committees supported by KPS, which will in turn be supported by student organisations who can branch out to the general public.

 

Andrea: The main issue I’ve always seen with branching out KPS towards the common students’ is that their focus is only on policy. Don’t you think that tackling educational issues would interest the student more?

Becky: Such topics fall in the competence of the Education Office of KSU and that is why they haven’t been discussed in KPS. However, with the recent issue regarding the trade dispute between UMASA and the University of Malta, we did hold a joint meeting with the Education Commission (KE) and KPS members.  KPS didn’t take a vote on it though, as it fell under the role of KE.

 

Andrea: Since you are trying to change things, wouldn’t it be innovative of you to open KPS up to elements pertaining to education?

Andrew: It could definitely be an option and I think it could work, but we need to be cautious. There’s a fine line between what KPS stands for and what the commission for education stands for. I do think it’s an option though and I’m not disregarding it.

Becky: KPS involves all student organisations because they deserve such importance. Since the education office does not involve student organisations directly but rather student representatives, it could be an option.

 

Andrea: During Becky’s nomination speech, Pulse’s Joseph Masini asked whether the ad hoc committees will remove the powers of KPS? What would your reply be to that now?

Becky: I disagree. What the ad hoc committees discuss still have to go through KPS.

Andrew: It’s like a parliamentary committee. You have the institution but then you have the technical people that research and do the anaylatical work. We usually only had monthly KPS meetings in the past. This is not enough if KPS wants to be effective.

 

Andrea: After these changes are implemented, what’s next on the agenda?

Andrew: Obviously, we’ve already planned a timeline for the year. There’s the careers convention that I think we can really improve this year. We’re also thinking of taking all organisations to Junior College to bridge the gap between 6th forms and University.

We’re trying to utilise media as much as possible to take KPS to a higher level. I plan to take KPS to a national level as well as a University one. I want our issues, our concerns, our proposals, our enthusiam, and our energy reflected on a national level. This is where prominent people can come on board and give us a hand. It would be revolutionary for KPS.

Posted in Interviews

JCI conference about to commence

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Junior Chamber International (JCI) Malta will be hosting this year’s conference, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the organisation’s inception on the island. The conference kicks off on the 11th June with an opening ceremony at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. The conference will come to a close at the Granaries on Saturday 14th June.

Over the span of four days, JCI will be hosting official courses, invited trainer courses, workshops, and talks by keynote speakers. A business networking event will allow JCI members to create contacts for future opportunities, as well as involve themselves in activities regarding communication, active citizenship, achievement, and leadership qualities. During the event, a ‘Members’ Lounge and Tradeshow’ is also being organised, allowing organisations to showcase their work.

The conference will also include a sport programme, part of which will consist of the ‘Row 4 Nets’ challenge aimed at promoting the JCI charity that donates towards the provision of malaria-preventing nets. All this will be hosted at the chosen JCI village in St. Julian’s. Most of the events will be taking place at the Corinthia and Radisson hotels in St. Julians.

 

Insite spoke to Mariella MacLeod, the COC Honorary Chairperson for this year’s event.

 

Q: What is JCI in Malta and what is its aim?

A: JCI in Malta is celebrating its 20th year anniversary this year. Members are between the ages of eighteen and forty. This organisation promotes self-development as well as community work, based on internationalism. The aim of this organisation is to create a positive change. JCI was first started in the United States, and will be celebrating its centenary next year. Some past alumni include J.F Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Albert II, the prince of Monaco.

JCI brings together young people in a setting outside their comfort zone at work. It allows people to gain confidence.

The idea of voluntary work is promoted; in learning by doing we also show people how important it is to volunteer, as by volunteering one also learns new skills. We want to create lasting positive change and improve the community we live in.

Over the past twenty years, we have shaped the experience of many members here in Malta. Our aim has been to create young leaders, entrepreneurs. It’s not just for business people though. When I joined JCI I was a secretary, but over the years it gave me the confidence to be able to stand up to speak in front of people, to have the confidence to introduce myself to people… so through the experience, getting involved with things outside your comfort zone, you learn how to try something else.

 

Q: Why did you choose to get involved?

A:  I did not choose to get involved; I was introduced to the organisation by a very good friend. I chose to remain involved because I found it very enriching. I met very good friends through it, and it opened the world to me. I was encouraged to travel to conferences where I had the opportunity to attend training sessions, similar to those being hosted throughout this week. As a young member, I had the opportunity to do things which maybe I wouldn’t have been able to do just by working in my office. I also loved the idea of volunteering, of helping others but learning at the same time.

 

Q: Could you provide a summary of what this conference will consist of?

A:  This conference happens every year. JCI is a very large organisation and, in May and June every year, each area; that’s Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa, all have their own area conference. In Malta it has long been our dream to someday host a conference here, and we won the bid this year. We have been working on this for the past three and a half years, and we’re all volunteers. We have volunteers who just come in for a couple of hours to lend a hand. What is going to happen in this conference? The chief delegates of all the European countries in JCI will travel here and have their official meetings; they’ll have a general assembly.  At the same time, all the other delegates will come here to network, to attend all the workshops we put together, and to enjoy the opening ceremony as well as the Gala dinner and awards night that will close this year’s conference. During the awards night, outstanding projects which have taken place over the past year across Europe will be awarded a prize. So there’s a lot to celebrate, there’s a lot to learn, and lots of networks and friendships to create. At the same time, JCI Malta members will gain the experience of being involved in organising a conference for almost 1300 people. The skills they will learn will last them a lifetime.

 

Q: Are any parts of the programme open to the public? If so, how can they apply?

A: It’s a no and a yes. They’re not open to the public unless they register for the conference between the 10th and 11th. If someone wants to register they’re subject to a fee, but the price covers all sessions, so it will be money well spent. There’s a special fee for people who are already members and a separate fee for non-members. To become a member, one would have to call and register. If they’d like to join between the 10th and the 11th, the opening ceremony will be held tomorrow evening, so they’ll be able to receive their conference pack and attend. The beauty of having it in Malta, for the Maltese, is that they don’t have to fly anywhere, and that they don’t have to pay accommodation.

 

Q: Which part of the programme are you most looking forward to?

A: I am looking forward to all of it, because I just want to make sure that the delegates have a good time.

Posted in Events, Interviews

Mina Tolu announced as IGLYO’s new Communications Officer

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Mina Tolu, the President of We Are, has been co-Opted as IGLYO’s new Communications Officer. Insite writer Melissa McElhatton interviews her to discover what this role consists of:

1.       What is IGLYO?

IGLYO is the International LGBTQ Youth & Student Organisation. It is an umbrella organisation which has over 80 member organisations in the pan-European region; and both We Are & MGRM are members from Malta. IGLYO’s approach promotes cooperation and joint strategies, and often advocates on behalf of Members to international bodies, institutions and other organisations.

2.        As Communications Officer, what will your role entail?

I’m basically responsible for the external communications of the organisation. It’s a lot of online work, like taking care of the website, and social media sites, as well as drafting media releases on pressing issues and statements on behalf of the organisation. I’ve been co-opted to the role, due to the resignation of their co-chair, and will be holding the post till December 2014.

3.        What happens after December ?

There is an election for new board members at the General Assembly in Dublin in November.

4.       Are you thinking of applying as a candidate, especially since you would have already had experience ?

Possibly. I am just happy to be part of such an amazing organisation for now, and I knew it was something I could commit to, till December for sure.

5.       What are you looking forward to most?

I have a few ideas that I want to implement which I think will really work well, thanks to IGLYO’s large number of member organisations across Europe. They are obviously related to communications, but I can’t say much more for now. I’m especially looking forward to finishing my exams next week, so I can concentrate on receiving a proper handover from the previous Communications Officer.

I do think the biggest challenge is going to be getting used to the way everyone works together within IGLYO, as the majority of our meetings are done online. I’m very used to my own organisation; having founded We Are, I have grown accustomed to what we do, and how we do it. Obviously these things change, and I will probably have to acclimatise myself to some intercultural differences too, as we’re from all corners of Europe.

6.       Do you have any final statements?

It’s a bit overwhelming right now. IGLYO is an amazing organisation, one which I’ve always looked up to. They have given so much to We Are, and helped us grow in so many ways, thanks to their training sessions, and connecting us to other organisations. I hope I manage to give back in my own way, and help other organisations, which perhaps are starting up in their own countries, and make a big change.

 

Insite would like to congratulate Mina for being co-opted as Communications Officer for IGLYO. Good luck in all your endeavours and may this be a wonderful and fulfilling experience.

More information on IGLYO is available at www.iglyo.com

Posted in Interviews, News

An Interview with Two New Student Representatives

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Luana Vassallo has been appointed as Student Representative for Senate while Kayleigh Sacco has been elected as Student Representative for the Faculty of Arts. These were the only two student representative positions whose nominees needed to pass an election vote. Insite writer Timothy Diacono interviews them:

 

Luana Vassallo

Q. What experience do you possess that makes you suitable for this position?

A. I used to be the KPS officer at MHSA (Malta Heath Students’ Association) and I have spent the last year as Social Policy Coordinator at KSU where I have strived to represent the rights of University students.

 

Q. What can you offer to University student?

A. I will actively represent them and be present if they have any queries or problems, as I was last year. I am a student myself so I understand what many students want and need and I will work to their benefit.

 

Q. What message would you like to send out to University students?

A. I would tell them to be active on campus and to get involved, rather than to just come to University to attend lectures. The soft skills you acquire from involvement within a student organization can ultimately prove more important than an academic record when it comes to finding a job. If students have a query or a problem, I encourage them to approach KSU or student representatives because we are there for them.

 

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 Kayleigh Sacco

Q. What experience do you possess that makes you suitable for this position?

A. I have spent a year in DESA (Department of English Students Association) as Public Relations Officer where I was tasked with sharing and promoting events and talking to students about our organization, particularly during Freshers’ Week. I have recently been elected as DESA’s Events Coordinator. As I was helping English students I realized that I can branch out to help students from other departments within the Faculty of Arts.

 

Q. What can you offer to University student?

A. I will always be available for students to approach as I have been all year and I will inform them about what is going on in the faculty. I’m well-organized, I have the students’ best interests at heart, and I will always try to see what they need. As a minor example, yesterday I spent time scanning and uploading English-related documents onto the Facebook group for English students before I started studying myself.

 

Q. What message would you like to send out to University students?

A. I intend to promote a holistic approach to the arts and help create better relationships between students of different departments within the Faculty. I would also like to build awareness amongst students of various cultural events. My message would be that not only arts students can relate to the arts. There exists a misconception that students studying science, ICT, etc. aren’t interested in the arts and I plan on challenging that.

Posted in Interviews