Monday 14 th November
On the first day, early in the morning, we started with a site seeing tour of Sherborne, and were taken to the bandstand in Pageant Gardens (a possible site for us to perform a music concert next year with Sherborne and Marsaskala performers).
At 9:30am we left for a cultural trip to Stonehenge; a Neolitic treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spent most of the day there; including lunch, as there was lots to see! It was a fantastic and thought provoking opportunity.
In the afternoon, we met the Mayor of Sherborne at his house to discuss possible cultural exchanges between Marsaskala and Sherborne. We also discussed DouzYouth aims, past experience and future projects.
This was followed by drinks in a traditional English pub, where we had the pleasure of drinking different English beers and discussing the outcome of the meeting.
In the evening we met with another local youth and all went to an Indian Restaurant for a lovely meal together.
Tuesday 15 th November
We spent the day preparing a presentation that would be presented on Wednesday to the secondary school students during an enrichment session, and then presented again in the evening at the Sherborne Committee AGM. This was a very nostalgic session, where we recalled the vast exchanges and opportunities there were for young people in the past, and how much we need to work to keep the momentum going. We also worked on our aims, objectives and future aspirations for DouzYouth.
Dinner was at the Bakehouse B&B, a family meal with Elizabeth’s family.
Wednesday 16 th November
The third day was quite an intense day. After the usual morning walk along the narrow streets of Sherborne, we finished off our presentation and visited two primary schools and The Rendevous. The Rendezvous is a Youth Centre that works with young people (13-25). It addresses issues such as education, personal progression courses and enrichment, mental health, housing, finding work, contraception, advise on abuse, parenting and money problems. It also gives free music lessons and has a music recording studio, games and study rooms. The Rendezvous is a great charity that helps benefit the local community.
During the visits in the Abbey Primary school, we presented a historical book with monuments from all the Douzelage towns, and discussed the possibilities of educational projects between the local schools and Marsaskala Primary School. They were very enthusiastic.
In the afternoon, we went to the Gryphon School (Seniors) to run the enrichment session with the students. We gave a presentation on Douzelage and DouzYouth and discussed with them the role of the new DouzYouth Committee. They all seemed very interested in our work and the discussion continued on controversial topics such as illegal hunting, immigration and Europe’s diminishing popularity with working class people in certain countries.
In the evening, we also presented our past work and future aims of the DouzYouth during the Annual General Meeting of the Sherborne Douzelage Committee. The sessions were followed by a small reception, a selection of food and drinks, a raffle, and further discussions on the DouzYouth.
Thursday 17 th November
The last day of the youth meeting was yet another cultural trip, this time in London. We left early on the train, and during the 2 hour trip from Sherborne to London, we discussed the programme for next year’s general meeting in Germany. We made changes to the program, asked questions and put forward ideas to Wolfgang. Lucky for us there was free wifi on the train!
On our arrival, we met Luka Nunar, another committee member, to discuss the DouzYouth website and Annual General Meeting. We had lunch, then the website was finished off and due to be launched. However, unfortunately due to problems with the wifi, it was left to be launched a few days later.
While in London, we visited the London Eye, and iconic monuments such as the Big Ben, the House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and 10 Downing Street.
Special thanks goes to DouzYouth Chair Ms. Elizabeth Dores who hosted me during this first youth meeting. It was a pleasure for us to work on educational, social and cultural matters and we look forward to see our projects materialise.
Written by Ryan Portelli (Vice Chair Douz-Youth) – Marsaskala (Malta)