Twinning between San Lawrenz and Colle Umberto
The twinning done by San Lawrenz and Colle Umberto in July 2005 in San Lawrenz and in September 2005 in Colle Umberto commenced its tight relations by these two communities since June 2000. At that time Mayor Noel Formosa met Mr Romano Volpato, the President of the Associazione del Gemelaggio of Colle Umberto were both agreed upon the proposal of commencing relations between the two committees after analyzing both common aspects and diversities of the two localities.
The two communities agreed not to embark promptly on the twinning agreement but to form a strong bont between the two communities. Both administrations agreed that they have to organize a series of activities which enable the citizens to discover each other and the various cultures and way of living. Various projects have been executed in order to promote further this proposal of a twinning relationship. The 'Protocollo d'Intesa' was signed in San Lawrenz in August 2001 by both Mayors. The agreement was made by both communities to work upon an administrative twinning, religious twinning, cultural twinning, historical twinning, scholastic twinning, sports and youth twinning, agricultural twinning and environmental twinning.
To promote the twinning significance amongst the Youth, a Youth exchange was organized in December 2001. This happened in Colle Umberto where 12 girls from San Lawrenz exchanged experience with girls from Colle Umberto through a project named ?knowing each other through Sports, Environment and Way of Life? bearing contract no: MT-11-14-2001-R4. This project was than reciprocated by another Youth Exchange held this time in San Lawerenz in February 2002 with the theme Knowing each other through Sports, Environment and Culture and contract no: MT-11-18-2001-R5.
Through these exchanges new friendships were formed and extended between families in Colle Umberto and San Lawrenz. From that time thereon private visits were paid both in San Lawrenz and in Colle Umberto.
In September 2002, a delegation from San Lawrenz consisting of the Mayor, the councilors and the Executive Secretary had a orientation visit to Colle Umberto in order to meet the Local Council of Colle Umberto. Thereat they discussed further joint projects to promote the young industry in San Lawrenz and also that of Colle Umberto to promote their products both communities embarked on a project enabling the San Lawrenz Local Council to participate in the International Wine and Cheese Fair namely 'Sapori e Formaggi' organized annually by the municipality of Colle Umberto. Therefore in May 2003, a maltese delegation together with pure Gozitan products exhibited a stand in this fair. Thereat Malta had a great opportunity to exhibit its products where those who visited this fair showed great interest in the Maltese product. The participation of Malta in this Italian fair is a clear indication of a European solidarity in action. Both municipalities agreed that it is important to explore Europe's various culture in order to promote unity among the continent's various people.
In order to promote voluntary work also amongst people with disabilities the Parish of Colle Umberto hosted for nine months a youth from San Lawrenz who worked for children with learning disabilities. This was performed during the perioud September 2002 and June 2003.
Another fruitful experience which emerged from this strong relationship was the participation of a delegation of 15 people from San Lawrenz mainly members of the locality\s organizations in an EU conference onganized to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Twinning Colle Umberto has with La Balme Sillingy (Alto Savoia) in France since 1984 bearing the theme Il futuro dell'Unione Europea attraverso I gemelaggi?. This conference was held between 7-9 May 2004. San Lawrenz Mayor Mr Noel Formosa addressed this conference by pointing out on how a strong friendship can lead to a network between the three localities,San Lawrenz, Colle Umberto and La Balme de Sillingy.
To promise the education and to make people share experience of living together, the San Lawrenz Local Council organized purposely two courses in English Language for those from Colle Umberto who wished to take a basic course in English Language. Both courses lasted fifteen days each and students were hosted with San Lawrenz families. This helped for a further strong bond between the two communities.
All these projects provided a clear picture that both communities by now experienced by somehow or another the significance of twinning. Thus after reviewing this strong relationship and fruitful experiences which both countries benefited from both communities agreed upon fixing the dates for the official twinning for Summer 2005
The twinning activities in San Lawrenz were held between Tuesday 26th July and Monday 1st August. It was an unforgettable week which sealed the bond between the two communities. In order to assure that everyone will afford to participate in such activities, we organized a flight charter from Venice to Malta. In fact a total of 103 participants flew over from Venice to Malta.
In order to organize professionally such events a committee was established in January 2005. Since then the committee started to meet regularly and worked hard to achieve the expected results. A logo and a song were purposely composed for this great event. A compact disk of this song "Flimkien" meaning "Together" was distributed amongst all San Lawrenz household so that they will be prepared and looking forward for the event. The song was written in both languages and narrate the encounter and unity of the two communities and on European solidarity.
This twinning even was held in the middle of the village feast activities Both communities missed well together as during this particular period the San Lawrenz community fully participated in the village feasts events and it was easier for them to meet and feel part of the Italian and French group. A welcoming atmosphere amongst the San Lawrenz community could easily be felt. The Italian and French participants lived the tradition village feast celebrations which are totally different from theirs. They were remarkably impressed with the full participation in these events. San Lawrenz people mixed very well and easily with the Italians as they could speak Italian very well.
The main event of this meeting was the official signing of the twinning agreement. This was held on Wednesday 27th July 2005. Present to this ceremony were basically all the San Lawrenz community as there was a total of 600 seats full of audience.
The main event included of a variety of Maltese folklore. The programme started with a videographic documentary including the history of the encounter of the two communities and also the walk together towards this achievement. The ceremony was honored by the Speaker of the Malta Parliament Hon Anton Tabone, Gozo Minister Hon Giovanna Debono, Minister for Justice Hon Tonio Borg, Malta Member of European Parliament Simon Busuttil, Hon Luigi d'Agro member of the Italian Parliament. Addresses were held by the Mayors of the two communities, by Mr Romano Volpato President of the Associazione del Gemellagio, by the Vice President of the Twinning Committee of La Balme de Sillingy Marie Joelle Bennard, by the Minister for Gozo Hon Giovanna Devono and by the Deputy Prime Minister of Malta Tonio Borg. Hon Luigi d'Agro also addressed the public present to the ceremony. The ceremony also included the singing of the song "Flimkien" by Gozitan popular singer "Pamela". This was followed by folk dances by "Ta Ciangura Folkgroup" which is composed mainly by housewives from San Lawrenz. A classical concert by a popular Gozo Orchestra under the director of Mro Antoine Theuma also accomplished the programme. Exchange of flags and gifts amidst lots of hugs and applauses took place.
The ceremony reached its climax by the signing of the Agreement with the two mayors solemnly swore to increase the friendship that already exists between the Gozitan locality and the Italian city to encourage exchanges in various sectors and to promote peace and a more unified Europe.
A traditional feast immediately followed at the same square. Thereat a Gozitan band group played both Maltese traditional songs and popular Italian songs. At the background various stalls with Maltese food were set and they served as party buffer for all those present. Kitchens. As for drinks only pure Maltese wine and "Kinnie" A maltese traditional bitter-sweet soft drink were served. In the meantime, a band group cheered the public present and most of the Italian participants together with all the San Lawrenz community accompanied them in dancing all night long.
Composition of Delegation
The group was composed of 103 people. The participants were mainly from Colle Umberto, Italy that of 93 persons and a small delegation that of 10 persons coming from La Balme de Sillingy, in France. Apart from these, almost all the community of San Lawrenz participated in these events.
After all this project fully succeeded. The Italian and French group were impressed with the warm welcome and hospitality they were given. They all kept repeating the same phrase "That they do not know how to reciprocate for all this". Everyone ended up looking forward to meet again, this time in Colle Umberto to seal this twinning agreement.
Signing of Twinning agreement in Colle Umberto
These activities were reciprocated when a 101 group from San Lawrenz visited Colle Umberto between the 30st August and 6th September. The Official ceremony in Colle Umberto was held on the 3rd September. The strong friendship between the San Lawrenz community and that of Colle Umberto had strengthened during this week and the two communities exchanged contacts and these contacts are still being alive, thus being the scope of the Twinning Agreement.