The Glocal Malta – an immersive counter-narrative experience on how people’s global mindsets can enrich Malta’s identity

What is the Glocal Malta?

The Glocal Malta is a cultural immersion experience that wants to promote migration counter-narratives, through first hand experiences and team building activities.

But why and how did we at GMD came up with this idea?

Existing narratives and how they influence us

In October 2021, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) of Washington D.C. published a report about how we talk about migration and how the way we talk about it has an impact on what we see, what we think and what we believe about it. They analyzed as case studies Sweden, Morocco, Lebanon and Colombia. The narratives impact us at an unconscious level, shaping the way we think about and see others.

The narratives around migration can be negative or positive. The negative ones found in the case studies of the report were:

  • The migrants threaten the security because with migration there is more criminality and violence;
  • The “They steal our jobs” narrative, especially in countries where there is a scarcity of resources;
  • The fear of losing the National identity;
  • The Loss of control narrative, when the migrations become “too much to handle”, for example during what have been called migrants crisis.

The positive narratives found were:

  • Migrants actually take jobs that locals aren’t willing to do anymore;
  • They contribute to the country’s economy;
  • In countries like the US, in which migration is part of their history, a positive narrative could be reflecting on the fact that we’re all migrants.

The narratives discussed in the report can also be found from a simple chat at the bar up to the tv news in many other different countries around the world.

Malta’s situation

To analyze how these narratives, impact the Maltese context, it is important to start with a little bit of background history of the island:

  • Malta was a British colony, and because of that there are still today strong links to other ex-British colonies like India, Pakistan, South Africa and Australia;
  • Malta has been struggling in finding and defining its own national identity because it has been colonized by different countries throughout all their history;
  • Malta has two official languages, English and Maltese that is a Semitic language close to Arabic;
  • The majority of the Maltese declares themselves as Catholics, and then there other religious minorities (Muslims, Hindu, Jews…).

Therefore, the Maltese mentality comes from its history and because of the different occupations, colonization and international relations it has experienced. This is where the fear of diversity comes and together with it, the fear of losing the national identity due to an increase influx of migrants.
For this reason, unfortunately, also in Malta, most negative narratives around migration have dominated the public debate, especially the ones related to security, national identity, the limited size of the island and loss of control.

While who works in the field already know how to defend themselves against these narratives – fact-checking, asking questions, deconstruct prejudices – most people just trust the narratives they receive, especially if they come from trusted media, for example the TV or the newspapers, that due to various reasons, including the struggle of the media sector in recent years still depict migration as crisis issue.

Why the Glocal Malta

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) as well as the recently published ICMPD report , and the consideration of Malta’s specific situation, make it clear that there’s a need to promote positive counter-narratives about migration, especially if we want to avoid any debate about migration to be exploited for political purposes and transformed into social conflict as it happened in other European countries.

This is exactly what the Glocal Malta is about: promoting counter-narrative experiences to help people, especially locals, to personally get in touch with positive realities related to migration. It was developed with the idea of offering a first-person experience that allows people to meet foreigners and acknowledge how they’re contributing in a positive way – economically, socially and culturally –, or listen to their story of challenges and success, giving people the chance to relate to them and recognize the contribution they are bringing to society.

The Glocal Malta: a training and team building experience

The Glocal Malta could also be considered and used as an outdoor training and team building.
The participants go around the island to meet foreigners and locals who have developed a global mindset and became a link between a local and an international dimension: foreigners who have fell in love with the island, its culture, its nature, its challenges and opportunities and have decided to develop here their projects and matching the skills and practices they have learnt abroad and use them to bring value to the country where they are now living in.

And locals who have lived abroad and have decided to come back, bringing with them what they have learnt and combining it with local traditions, culture, food, experiences… Their example helps participants to appreciate the importance of having a curious and open mindset able to value and combine a local action with a global thinking.

Doing these activities as a group also allows to practice team-building activities between one stop and another and to reflect on topics related to cultural diversity, migration and integration, stereotypes and conscious and unconscious biases that risk to affect most of the relationships between foreigners and locals.

Going Global with the Glocal Malta

So far we have offered the Glocal Malta experience to companies, but our goal, on one hand, at the local level is to extend the experience to schools, so that students can get inspired by these tangible examples of people that were influenced by different cultures and that decided to give something back to the place they fell in love with and where they decided to settle.

With the Glocal Malta the students have also the opportunity to meet people like them, with their same cultural background and get inspired by their story, for example, seeing them as a role model and facilitating the development of a Global Mindset in them, too.

On the other, we would like to export the Glocal Malta model and enroll more places that can developed their own glocal experiences helping to build new counter-narratives to promote more inclusive societies.
Thinking globally, acting locally!
Do you want to join us?