The second generation

The current status relating to the second and subsequent generations has been analysed already (see Chapter 6). What is of relevance here is an assessment, as far as is possible, of the issues which affect persons of the second generation in so far as they belong to a minority group with a different or additional cultural background to the mainstream. It is only rarely that the views of persons of the second generation themselves are available for analysis. Often this is in the nature of personal, subjective, expectations (see for instance Terry et al, 1993). One is therefore left with personal impressions, supported at best, with interpretations of census data relating to those who have an overseas-born parent. An analysis of these issues were the subject of a recent forum organised by Victoria University of Technology and the Maltese Community Council of Victoria (see Cauchi et al. 1999).

The conclusion one might reach would be that the vast majority of 2nd generation Maltese in Australia are more Australian than Maltese. They have integrated within the fabric of Australian society and see their future as intimately bound with that of their adopted country. Malta is a place where their parents came from, where there still reside aunts or uncles (often perceived to have rather weird parochial religious and political outlook). In some cases, Malta is considered as a suitable place for a short holiday en route to more exciting places in Europe and elsewhere.

It is, however, of interest to note that there still remains within the second, and to a lesser extent, the third generation, a considerable contact with the Maltese language, and even culture (see Chapter 6). To a large extent this is a mere background familiarity, useful only in contact with family and occasionally with other members of the Maltese community. It is hardly considered as a useful acquisition when dealing with life in general. It has not, to any extent, given rise to an interest in the literature or culture of the parent country in Maltese youth, which is in contrast to the considerable interest seen in the sons and daughters of other European migrants.

It is widely believed that Maltese language and culture will not persist for any length of time after the current (first) generation disappears. This is because its perceived value is merely in communication with the older generation.

How great a loss is this? I have always shared the view that a strong cultural commitment is useful in establishing one's weltanschauung. But then for the second generation, a solid Aussie culture would surely be just as beneficial. A knowledge of Maltese culture would be a desirable but not essential accoutrement, like icing on the cake. It is not crucial to their psycho-social well-being. While this is what one would like to think, it is disturbing to see that a number of Maltese youth are troubled with issues of self-esteem and stress associated with their Maltese identity. (see Borg 1999)

Source: Maurice N.Cauchi - The Maltese Migrant Experience, Malta 1999

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