3 Introduction. Why Malta
Melita, in classical Greek, means “honey”. The Greeks called this way a group of
islands lying in the heart of the Mediterranean. This small archipelago, one of the last strips of Europe in front of Africa, nowadays is called Malta, and it is a melting pot of civilizations with a history stretching back thousands of years. Only the three largest islands - Malta, Gozo and Comino - are inhabited, while the others are essentially rocks.
Malta has always been known in the public knowledge maybe exclusively for the epic history of the Order of Knights of the Hospital, but in the last years it has gained strategic relevance in the international setting for different reasons.
First and foremost, there is the language. The national language is Maltese, but English is also recognized as an official one, further to being part of the British Empire.
Its widespread knowledge of second languages makes Malta one of the most multi- lingual countries in Europe, so Maltese citizens get ahead in a common market where English is the main business language. Moreover, Malta joined the European Union in 2004, it adopted euro as the country’s currency in 20081
and it is a member State closely related to Italy, as it has recently been noticed by the political discussions about the responsibilities concerning irregular migrations in summer 2009. Additionally, Malta’s representative in Brussels, Joe Borg, is the Head of the European Commission for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs2
. Finally, its reduced area and population density (1298 per square kilometer, considering a population of 404962 inhabitants on a surface of 316 km²)3
foster the widespread use of Internet broadband and ICT technologies, accessible from all areas of the islands. Therefore, Maltese population density is by far the highest in the EU and one of the highest in the world.
3 All official population data provided by the National Statistics Office (NSO) <www.nso.gov.mt>
4 Owing to these key factors, Malta could be considered as a laboratory or a privileged observation field in a communicative approach to the networked information economy (Benkler, 2006, p.3), in micro (for number of inhabitants and its area) and macro dimensions (for language and its relevant role), like countries such as Italy or France, or communities/federations as the EU or USA.
For all these reasons, and for my pressing desire to discover a new culture, in February 2009 I decided to do the application for a Leonardo da Vinci Programme work experience in Malta, for a three months period (March-May 2009). Leonardo da Vinci falls within the sub-programmes of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), a project created by the European Union for the promotion of the education and professional training4
. The programme enables individuals to pursue stimulating learning opportunities across Europe. It focuses on vocational education and training, other than at tertiary level. It addresses both the learning and teaching needs in the sector, and is therefore aimed at all parties involved, institutions and educational bodies, enterprises, associations, social partners and bodies relating to either lifelong learning or the labour market. The project is implemented through sending institutions, whose responsibilities are to help and support trainees in searching and finding a job placement consistent with their academic profile, and to monitor their activities at the receiving organizations.
In my particular case, according to my CV and my Bachelor’s Degree in
Communication, I have been assigned to the Marketing & PR Consultancy of Where’s Everybody, a private media production house. My job was related with providing media relations consultancy for both private and public sectors, strategy assessment and drafting and vetting adverts and communications. Specifically, I have executed web marketing tasks, using Internet and its media platforms as a powerful retention tool for both old and new customers, trying to give more visibility to the television programmes (increasing their audience share) and involving people in participating and creating programmes themselves.
My three months training has been a gratifying work experience and a little - as tested in such a microcosm as Malta- but remarkable breathing space about the