As all others, the Faculty for Social Wellbeing at the University of Malta turned to virtual means to maintain communication with its audience, but saw this as an opportunity, rather than a challenge.
Hosting its Faculty Seminar online for the first time ever on Thursday 7 May 2020, that brings together students, academics, administrators, and research support officers. the Faculty invited His Excellency, the President of Malta, Dr George Vella for an online interview, which was streamed live via their Facebook Page.
HE the President of Malta, Dr George Vella, was welcomed and introduced by the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Andrew Azzopardi.
H.E. Dr Vella, who is a doctor by profession, looked back fondly on his university years, as it was a time when the quality of teaching and practice he got were instrumental in helping him develop his ideas and applying them in the real world.
He said he thinks highly of any university education as this is a time when the seeds of good values are planted in individuals, who then keep carrying them for the rest of their lives. “If these values aren’t instilled in us, then part of our Maltese character would be lost, because we would change the way we do things, and who we are.”
When asked by the Faculty’s Research Support Officer, Ms Samantha Pace Gasan, on what his values are, the President said considers himself to be a man of his own word, consistent in his opinions, and doesn’t change it according to the circumstances he faces, honest and transparent in what he says and the decisions he takes.
These values, he noted, guide him in his choices, no matter how big or small. Although these values came in useful throughout his medical career, his political career, and his presidential one, upon being sworn in as president, he never imagined he would have to face the current challenges. “I expected everything but what actually happened, and what had never happened”, he told those present, upon mentioning the changeover in Prime Minister, and on a more global level, the COVID-19 pandemic. “More than anything else, the pandemic proved how much of a global village the world has become”.
H.E. Dr Vella said that he had already made and was planning to keep making a number of visits to international universities and speak to experts on different matters, as “this is a very effective way of “putting our views out there beyond our shores and bringing our challenges to the fore, on an international platform”, but social distancing rules and lockdowns have prevented him from resuming with these plans.
Despite this and the various other challenges brought about by COVID-19, the President had words of encouragement for all of Malta, which he is proud to call a resilient country. “I am extremely trustful of how much the Maltese population can achieve – every time we face some kind of struggle, we react in an intelligent and productive way, as that is our character”, the President concluded.
The interview can be viewed in its entirety online.