After winning the National Water Quiz organised by the HSBC Catch the Drop Campaign twice in a row, three St.Theresa Mriehel students had one wish left before leaving the secondary school… to go on an Educational trip to Brussels in order to gain first-hand experience on how the European Union is addressing the issue of water scarcity in the Maltese Islands. That is when the planning to make this educational trip started. With the constant support and help of Mr. Bugeja (HSBC Corporate Sustainability Manager, and Coordinator of the HSBC Catch the Drop Campaign), this wish of theirs was made possible, and on the 5th of March 2018, the three students (Cheyenne Mangion, Daniela Marotta and Caprice Spiteri), together with Ms. Denise Mizzi (geography teacher and contact person of the Catch the Drop Campaign at St. Theresa College Mriehel) embarked on a three-day trip to Brussels. The students were also accompanied by Mr. Manuel Sapiano (Chief Water Policy Officer from Energy and Water Agency in Malta) and his assistant, Mr. Henry Debattista who facilitated discussions at the European Parliament, as well as Ms. Rita Gauci (European Studies teacher at St. Theresa College Mriehel) who assisted Ms. Denise Mizzi in the preparation of students for the discussions.
On the 5th of March 2018, we spent our first half day in Brussels exploring the city centre.
On the 6th March 2018, a meeting with Matthew Bonett, the EP Group Press Advisor was held to furthermore discuss the role of the European Parliament.
Afterwards, a visit to the Parlamentarium was made to learn more about the journey of the European Union from 1951 into the political body it is today.
Finally, we met with Karen Dalgaard Sanning, the European Commission Directorate-General for Environment Unit C.1 Clean Water to discuss about the different needs of European countries in regards to water scarcity, flooding.
On the 7th March 2018, we met with Mr. Edward Vernon, who is the Technical Attaché (Environment), at Dar Malta.
This was followed by meeting MEP’s Mr. Francis Zammit Dimech and Ms. Marlene Mizzi, to discuss their participation in the European Parliament.
The day ended with a meeting with the EP Water Group to discuss about the water problems in their country and the actions taken by our school towards water scarcity.
Take a look at what the students had to say about this experience …
Daniela Marotta, Fifth former, St. Theresa College Mriehel student
“This was truly one of the best experiences of my life. Seeing that I was already studying European Studies and hoping for a political career in the European Union, this experience has helped me clear my thoughts on my future profession. Getting to know more about the European Parliament and the European Commission was an interesting opportunity. I will always remember the learning experience in the few days spent in Brussels, which will also guide me in my future decisions and opinions. This visit has helped me elaborate my opinions on certain political issues and I am now more able to understand the current issues happening in Europe today. The Parlamentarium offered a vast exhibition depicting the history of the European Union from 1951 into the political body it is today. Getting to know more about the work of the MEP’s was an informative experience and their advice will be highly appreciated and they will help to guide me in my future. The meetings with the EP Water Group helped me understand more about the environmental problems that the world is facing today by giving us an explanation of the problems of flooding and water scarcity that Europe is facing today, and the measures that are being taken by the European Union to ensure good status in all European waters. I have also learned more about political issues regarding water as a human right and the work of the MEP’s in favor to LGBT rights and abolition of roaming tariffs in mobile calls. This experience has also helped me realise that the European Union isn’t so far away from Malta, as many Maltese feel that the European Union doesn’t involve their daily life. The Europe Union isn’t just a ‘big brother’, it also guides Europe towards a better future, with the development of certain policies and the implementation of laws that safeguard the lives of many Europeans. I highly recommend this experience to anyone and I hope that other students will be offered to visit Brussels.”
Caprice Spiteri, Fifth former, St. Theresa College Mriehel student
“It has been a wonderful experience because I have gained a lot of knowledge about Brussels, the EU and about the issue of water scarcity and how it tackled. It was very educational as at school we learn a lot about the EU but in Brussels I actually had the opportunity to understand better the procedures that are currently being followed in relation to water. I realised that Europe is not a big brother that imposes laws on its member states but it is something we are a part of and it is a place where all members, irrespective of their size, have power and an equal say. More importantly, I become aware that the European Union is taking action on water scarcity and droughts and that the main objective on EU water policy is to ensure access to good quality water in sufficient quality for all Europeans. Also getting to discuss the issue of water scarcity in Malta with MEPs was one of the things which I will truly cherish; I think that sometimes, the media, portrays these people in a negative way for publicity but when in reality they are very hard working individuals who represent our voice.”
Cheyenne Mangion, Fifth former, St. Theresa College Mriehel student
“My experience in Brussels was a very memorable and one that I will surely cherish forever. I have always been interested in working with people, and I thought I knew very well how the European Union works from school, until I actually had the opportunity to go there. Before my experience, I thought that the European Union was very far from the people at home and when I went there, I realised it is the complete opposite – The EU is very close to the people. The MEPs who represent our country work hard to be close to the people and see what their needs and thoughts are in order to go back to Brussels knowing what they need to work harder on. The EU policies affect our daily life; quality of water, food, medicine … these help to improve our quality of life in general and so the European Union does affect us and it is not so far away from us. I have also learnt how the EU works and came to realise that it is a very complicated process which I thought I understood until I had seen it with my very own eyes. This brings me to say that I think that everyone should have the opportunity to go there at least once in their lives! This does not happen that often though and that is why I am so grateful for this opportunity. One last think I have learnt about the EU is, and I must say that I didn’t give this much importance before I knew it actually existed, that the EU welcomes any queries from EU citizens and reads every single one of them; there is also the European Consumer Centres (ECCs), set up in each of the 28 EU Member State – another way for the EU to be close to its citizens!”
Students also had the opportunity to share this experience with other students on World Water Day (22nd March 2018) at St. Benedict College Middle School Kirkop. They gave out a short presentation to the audience present at the HSBC Catch the Drop Campaign National Water Quiz.
This was surely an educational trip that the students will cherish forever! This would not have been possible without the HSBC Catch the Drop Campaign Initiative.