Exotic musical notes invisibly danced about at the University of Malta Quadrangle, taking over the usual scuffling, the high-pitched laughter and the cheers of the grandaunts.
Several people were dressed in quite odd outfits, I must say, and others were dancing around. Weird, huh? Have the students finally hit their low point and gone completely bonkers? This is not the case. At least not today.
In commemoration of International Human Rights Day, AIESEC in Malta, with the help of Malta Medical Student Association and Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, organised a Global Village to promote the “No Hate Speech” campaign.
The situation of human rights in Malta is a slightly mercurial one in certain aspects. Everyone in Malta enjoys the right to vote, the right to free elections and, the right to education, to name but a few basic rights that are expected to be found in a democracy . However, when it comes to people that are different from the typical Maltese individual things change. How many University students do you see interacting with international ones? Not that much right, considering that there are about 600 full-time international students and yearly 500 exchange students. Moving away from University, how do you think LGBT and African migrants are treated in general?
As Niki Debono, an AIESEC member, stated, “Love is thrown around so easily however, hate gives society the reality of the situation. People are capable of hating more than loving because it is so easy to discriminate against people whom we don’t know.”
The aim of the No Hate Global Village was to give an opportunity to students to get a taste of various cultures in order to raise awareness of the need for acceptance. Stands of a myriad countries from each region of the world were showcased such as Turkey, India, Uganda, Libya, Canada, Brazil and, Oman. The smell of different mouth-watering foods permeated the air and students that went up to the stands opted to dress up in traditional clothing for the fun of it! Russians, Albanians and Kuwaitis danced their traditional dances. People were going up to the stands asking about different countries, their cultures, their way of life and whether it is plausible to travel there. Their eyes literally shone; it was as if their dreams of seeing the world and experiencing different cultures were slowly being realised.
A great pioneer of human rights has just died. On his 90th birthday, at Hyde Park, Nelson Mandela said, “It is now in your hands”. And so it is. It is up to this generation, not the next one, to change and converge with people different from us and to understand the cultures that make this world a beautiful place to live in. We have to sustain Mandela’s legacy and the acts of many others that have done goodness with others. What I consider a challenge in today’s society is not to plan of doing some kindness in the distant or near future but to do something good to a stranger (no matter how small or insignificant it may seem) every single day.
The weird sightings shouldn’t be weird at all. They should be accepted.