Officially known as the Republic of Malta, it is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km south of Italy, 284 km east of Tunisia and 333 km north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 its makes Malta the world’s tenth smallest and fifth most densely populated country.
Malta has been inhabited since approximately 5900 BC. Its location in the centre of the Mediterranean has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, with a succession of powers having contested and ruled the islands. Since the beginning of time it has been a place of constant conquest. Almost all the great civilizations of the world have left their mark here: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Spaniards, French, British and Knightly Order of Hospitallers of Saint John, whose members were also called Maltese or Joannite bachelors. The presence of each of these nations is still evident in the cultural heritage of Malta, and the number of monuments per 1 km² is the highest in the world. It’s reflected today in culture, language and architecture, as exemplified by Valletta with 320 monuments, making it one of the most densely populated areas of the world. It was also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It’s hard, not to mention about The Great Siege of Malta that took place in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire tried to invade the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The Knights, with approximately 2,000 footsoldiers and 400 Maltese men, women and children, withstood the siege and repelled the invaders. This victory became one of the most celebrated events in sixteenth-century Europe. This decisive battle on such a small island is also considered as breakthrough in European history for 500 years.
Text written in July 2019.
Danuta Brzozowska, a volunteer from Poland who likes to ride a bike and play tennis.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.