Info Right Now In Malta
Sometimes in life it's difficult to describe perfect moments; but, for the sake of CLIC, I will try.
Picture this: it's 10pm-but-still-incredibly-warm in the tiny fishing town of Marsaxlokk, Malta and you're sitting on the floor, crossed legged and barefoot on the harbour, inches away from the crystal clear sea. You're surrounded by a good twenty people who, despite the fact you only met them 48 hours ago, already feel like family. You're sharing secrets and stories and as you look across the ripples in the water, you notice the lights from the street lamps dancing orange and yellow amongst the rainbow coloured boats. This is my 2012 perfect moment and CLIC gave me the chance to experience it.
Following an interview and a good few weeks of preparation, fellow CLICer Robiu and I travelled to Malta to attend the Information Right Now! Young People Are Asking training seminar and train to be Young Ambassadors. Sitting at Gatwick Airport on a pretty gloomy afternoon, Robiu and I talked about our expectations. Simply put, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into: walking out of Malta Airport and into a little taxi, we were clueless as to what to expect.
What was waiting for us was a Youth Hostel in one of the winding back streets of Marsaxlokk with 23 other young people from all across Europe waiting inside. The five days we spent there have seemed to all intertwine into some perfect, blissful blur. The training sessions that we undertook were no short of inspiring; we would begin training at 9am every day and I would go to bed every night inspired and excited to be involved in the campaign in the months to come.
Primarily, it was invaluable to learn about the impacts that youth information can have on young people's lives. As a member of my local Youth Information Team and of course, CLIC, I always thought that Youth Information was mainly about the big issues: teen pregnancies, depression, homelessness, unemployment – but I was so wrong. Youth Information is endlessly diverse and should be for everyone and about everything – from what to do on the weekends to where best to buy your first car or what restaurants you can get a cheeky student discount in. The first class trainers that were running the sessions opened my eyes to the power of social networking and how exactly to get the message of Youth Information across, not only to decision makers and media but also, and arguably most importantly, young people themselves. Robiu even took the floor to explain the ins and outs of Twitter and how we could use it as a campaign tool: as a result, I am addicted to tweeting!
What was also great was getting the chance to share experiences and learn from other young people. Robiu and I did a presentation on CLIC and the role of Youth Information in Wales and showed how CLIC had developed over the years. On the third day, we were split into groups and asked to a make short video promoting the campaign. The result? An Austrian, a Northerner, a Czech beer lover, a girl who spoke five languages from Luxembourg and I hit the little town to give out CLICzines to the unsuspecting people of Malta! On our walk back to the hostel, we found a woman reading one without us even asking her to! (I think I should win some CLIC points for this?!) Sub-Ed Note: Da iawn! Gold star on your profile!
Aside from the training though, what really made the experience unforgettable was the people. Every single morning, I would sit in our training room and just be swept away by the sheer passion in that room. Young people have such a bad name and have been endlessly labelled as the 'lost generation' by the media and government; I would love to be able to invite journalists and decision makers to meet the young people that attended the training and dare them to say that young people don't care. Everyone had so many ideas and opinions and to be honest, they had so much drive. Everyone that attended was there because they wanted to make a positive difference to the lives of young people and in reality that is something that is quite often hard to come by.
Aside from that, they were hilarious. I have never laughed so much in such a short period of time and connected with so many people so quickly. I can honestly say that they are going to be a big part of my life for a long time to come. We would do different activities every night, from attending village feasts to firework festivals and would then come back to the hostel and sit around until the early hours of the morning just chatting (I literally had about five hours sleep across the five days!) As well as this, I was so blessed to have Robiu to go with. CLIC really couldn't have picked a better person – he really looked out for me every single moment of every day and made me laugh until I couldn't breath any more and tears were rolling down my face.
Like I said, it's hard to describe perfect moments, and I'm sure I'll write a lot more on my five days in Malta. But for now, I'd like to say thank you CLIC. Thank you for giving me some memories that will last a lifetime and thank you for inspiring me to be a better Youth Worker, CLICer, young person and of course, a Youth Information Ambassador.
IMAGE: Robiu's postcard he sent to CLIC Towers.