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.