Unforgettable Experience

30th June -2nd July 2012 will remain in the memory of eight Ukrainian students and two teachers as a great summer event that became possible thanks to the lBritish Cuncil program ‘Connecting Classrooms”.
They came to Malta to participate in the program of the Cluster 2 International  Summer Camp.
Our flight arrived at 10 pm and at the airport we were met by Keith Seghula, the head of the Maltese Cluster 2, at the airport and taken to Europa hotel in Sliema town. Although we were tired after 12 hour journey we took a short walk along the promenade by the sea. There were lots of people singing and cheering leaning out of the cars with flags of Italy flowing. The whole of Malta seemed to be celebrating their favorites’ victory in Euro 2012 half final.

Early in the afternoon on Saturday 30th June we joined  52 Maltese students and 10 teachers  at Mount St. Joseph Retreat House in Mosta where everybody had the opportunity to meet, share rooms and make new acquaintances. The workshops started with ice breakers which were a fun way to get to know each other. “ It was a lot of fun when we were asked to sit on the floor and to write something about our hobbies and interests on pieces of toilet paper to get to know each other. It did help to feel relaxed”, says Karina Stohni.

There were so many of us, about 80, in the Conference Room that it was rather difficult to remember the names and interests of everybody, but the workshop masters Mr. Joe Theuma and Ms.Bridget Margo were very resourceful, involving us in various activities all focused on team building and inclusion as  well. “I liked the idea of blowing balloons, writing your name, mixing up all of them,  picking up one, and then looking for a person whose name was written on it,”says Marina Bakumenko.

And then came an adventurous night, the time for the Titanic Game. In the total darkness, using only torches, six groups set off in search of six islands where each group had to do some task. For example, they had to blow off candles from a two meter distance or they had to draw a picture of the Maltese Neolithic Temple on a highly attached piece of paper using only their feet. If they coped with the task they got a piece of rope to add to the one they were tied up within. It was not an easy task as they had to run around the large garden, and any moment they could collide with  icebergs acted by three teachers who suddenly appeared in the dark. They were chasing groups in order to cut off a piece of their rope. It was so exciting! The group that ended up with the longest rope was declared the winner. The atmosphere was really nice with a great spirit of teamwork.

Sunday was another terrific day. In the morning groups of students had to go to six different villages and had a number of tasks to complete. This was a particularly interesting cultural exercise for us as we visited local councils, churches, clubs, private residences and shops.  We met local people and spoke to them. “It was a valuable experience for us. We saw the oldest cathedral in the town of Mosta, met local people and just enjoyed walking in its narrow streets,” says Bohdan Habliuk.

When all groups made their presentations everybody pointed out how friendly and helpful the Maltese are, how quiet and relaxing a typical Sunday morning village life is.

And what a pleasure it was to play and relax in the sea on one of the biggest beaches of Malta!

In the evening we had the Intercultural Party. What a party it was! Singing Ukrainian and Maltese songs, learning national dances, tasting traditional food. What delicious goodies Maltese friends prepared!  We presented Ukrainian chocolates, cookies and the karavai (sweet bread). We also had a giant jigsaw puzzle of four large pictures depicting the most popular Maltese sights. After that the Maltese students gave some information about each picture.  A second day in the camp was over and we felt like one big family.

 

If asked what moment was the most thrilling and memorable, everybody would unanimously agree that it was exchanging souvenirs and writing comments on each other’s shirt given to each participant on the  first day. There were so many positive traits and remarks about everyone’s personality and character and the atmosphere was so friendly that it was clear, the camp was a real success and helped to connect a lot of young people. May these new friendships last!

We had three days left to make a tour about Malta and discovered  beautiful sights of this country. We had a full day excursion to Gozo getting there by ferry, enjoyed climbing rocks at the Azure Window in Dwejra, and relaxed at the sea. We could see various fruits and vegetables grown and cattle raised by Maltese farmers at agrarian exhibition  Imnarja.   The capital Valetta impressed us with its marvelous architectural monuments, galleries and palaces.

We had lunch at the British Council of Malta to where we were invited by Ms Ingrid Eomois, Country Director of the British Council in Malta. The International Camp 2012 in Malta has definitely become the significant event in the students’ lives, promoted creating friendship ties, helped develop the cultural understanding and skills necessary to work and live in global society. For us, it was once in a life experience that we shared together.