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Fulbright to Malta

My Fulbright Proposal Goals

January 31, 2012 - by Gina

My first goal was to conduct a comparative folktale analysis, through a multicultural perspective, using folktales from Malta and from the United States.  This was to be done in the classroom with my students in Malta.  Furthermore, to look at the works of Manwel Magri, a well-known folktale writer who composed stories and comic books that have preserved some of the ancient core of the society's culture.

Status: The literature analysis was conducted with three of my classes.  Various elements of literature were reviewed and or introduced during this process.  Most students seemed to be very interested in the stories and found their assignments interesting.  During my research for this project I came across a collection of Maltese folktales that were accompanied by a fantastic audio cd, which narrated the tales along with music.  This served as a good resource for several listening comprehension activities.  I am in the process of compiling the lessons for future use in my teaching, if met with appropriate age and level classroom students.

I also had my students complete a week long thematic unit about the United States and Malta.  We talked about the use of symbolism in both countries, specific monuments, our flags, and our different traditions.  Furthermore, my students wrote friendly letters on post cards, which have been sent to another class in New York City.  The boys are anxiously awaiting a reply!

Secondly, I proposed to study Italian at the University of Malta, outside of my teaching responsibilities.  I also expressed my desire to come to Malta to learn about my own family's heritage.

Status: The University of Malta offers an exciting program (Degree Plus) aimed at providing all students at the University with the opportunity to enrich their academic studies with extra skills and experiences that can add value to their knowledge base. I recently completed the Italian for beginners course and will receive a certificate, which serves as official recognition to my efforts and participation in this program.  Although it was a very basic beginner class, I am excited to have at least gotten started on this process; to further develop and work on another second language.

As I wrote in my grant purpose, my father's family is from Palermo in Sicily, but the knowledge of my origin stops there.  The Maltese Islands are thought to first have been settled in 5200 BC by hunters and farmers who arrived from Sicily.  Having never been to Europe before, I thought it would be great for me to experience and embrace my Sicilian origin.  This is one of the reasons I chose to come to Malta.

This December I had the opportunity to take a trip to Palermo, Sicily during my Christmas break.  I had the chance to meet relatives of mine from my father's side. We shared several really nice meals together and I got to see old time cards of my great grandfather when he worked in construction, along with pictures of my father when he visited Palermo over 30 years ago.  It was a really nice experience for me to see the many places that were visited and occupied by my relative’s years ago, and to hear stories about my family as well as enjoy their company.

Two friends and I went on to celebrate my Christmas holiday in Rome, Italy.  We spent Christmas Eve in enjoying a delicious dinner, and wandered back to St. Peter’s Square to catch the Pope giving Christmas mass being broadcasted live right outside the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica.  In the following days I saw the Trevi Fountain, the amazing Pantheon, and enjoyed some of the best pizza, wine, and gelato.  I wondered through the forum on a beautiful day, and spent time visiting the Colosseum; a monument attached to stories of gory battles between gladiators, slaves, prisoners and wild animals.

I headed to Prague to ring in the New Year in Old Town Square.  Many of the Christmas markets were still set up and I had the chance to walk around and enjoy Czech food.  I wouldn’t describe it as healthy but it's certainly pretty unique to the Czech Republic.   Walking over the Charles Bridge up to the 1,000 year old Prague Castle, which dominates the city’s skyline, allows for great pictures and views. 

My last stop was London, where I saw Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

The British Museum was my favorite attraction in London.  It is considered to be one of the world’s greatest museums in history and culture.  When I was there, Hokusai’s Great Wave, my favorite painting and most famous of all Japanese prints, was on display.  The museum’s permanent collection, of some eight million works, originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.

After returning to Malta, I was required to complete a midterm report, which states my progress of my projects and my plans for the rest of my term.  In my proposal I planned on organizing an after school program or club that incorporates English language learning and American culture, with activities relating to the mind, body, and soul. Ex. Yoga, total body fitness, meditation, ect.

Status: This project idea coincides with the work of AYA (are you active) Malta.  This non-profit organization is set up to encourage more participation in physical activities across all ages. My role will specifically deal with elderly people and young girls. One of the main goals of this collaboration is to build self-esteem in woman in order to counteract the domestic violence issues here in Malta. We are in the initial stages of planning a low cost class I came up with called MBS (mind, body, soul) for the elderly population and also for 8 to10 year old girls, once a week.  Elderly people will be given an opportunity to stay healthy and connected with others.    In additional, our hopes of offering these sort of affordable activities to a targeted population allows young girls to be introduced to opportunities that can help them to grow both socially, physically and emotionally.   There is a high rate of teenage pregnancy here and due to lack of guidance, young mothers rarely do anything for the well being of their children, which leads to a continuous vicious cycle of early teen pregnancy, increasing poverty rates, and continued physical/emotional abuse.  This is a project I will be pushing for in the New Year in conjunction with AYA Malta and the local council here.

Initially I began working in the field of ESL after previously working at St. Rita’s Center for Immigrants and Refugees as a volunteer language teacher.  Shortly after hearing I was awarded a Fulbright grant, I was also informed about the opportunity to work at the refugee center where I would be providing English instruction for refugees from sub-Saharan Africa.

Status:  Since returning from holiday break, I had my first three classes at the Marsa Open Center.  The students are filled with personality and a desire to learn English in order to open the doors for greater work opportunity and a brighter future.  I feel that this work is very important, and in just a few, two-hour classes, I left feeling accomplished and helpful.  I am looking forward to the upcoming months of instruction and classes at the center.

 

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About the Author

Fulbright to Malta is written by
Gina Giambanco

Gina Giambanco, M.A. ’11, is an Adelphi aluma who studied TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Adelphi University’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education. Prior to attending Adelphi she obtained a B.S. in psychology and business from Fordham University, where she spent time teaching Adult ESL at St. Rita’s Center for Immigrant and Refugee Services in New York City. After taking a liking to this work, Gina decided to enroll at Adelphi to take courses to teach English as a second language while also playing for the Adelphi women’s basketball team. Gina has made the most of her time at Adelphi, earning academic honors and gaining professional experience through her employment at various on-campus departments. In October 2010, with the guidance of her Adelphi professors, she applied for, and was eventually awarded, the prestigious Fulbright scholarship. In September 2011, Gina will backpack through Europe before she begins working for the Republic of Malta in October 2011, where she will teach English and U.S. History at the University level as well as English as a second language at a secondary school. In addition to teaching, Gina’s Fulbright statement of grant purpose involves starting an afterschool program that will encompass three human components; body, mind, and soul. The program will include American sports, yoga, meditation, and of course, English. Outside of her Fulbright work, Gina hopes to participate in volunteer work with North African Refugees currently living in Malta.


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