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Say Bongu to Charlie!

Lives in Morwell

Bongu.

Carmello – Maltese

 

From Carmello of Malta to Charlie of Morwell, language and identity have long gone hand-in-hand for Charlie Mallia.

Raised in Msida, a harbour town located near Malta’s capital city, Valletta, Charlie emigrated to Australia with his wife, Maria, and their two sons, Kevin and Dion, in October of 1980.

The young family – later completed with the arrival of twins Shaun and Tracey – joined Maria’s parents and 10 siblings that had gradually been settling in the Latrobe Valley since 1952.

While language can often be a barrier to social inclusion in a new country, and with limited community integration services available at the time, Charlie was fortunate to have a solid base to draw on.

“There was a lot of Maltese here and most from the same town,” Charlie said.

“English was our second language back home because we were ruled by the British and the ones who didn’t learn it that was up to them because by law you had to learn it second.”

What was once a second language, soon became second nature, but Charlie is passionate about retaining his native tongue as a link to his culture and still finds himself saying ‘bongu’ as often as ‘hello’.

“With my wife and her brother and sister we speak Maltese mostly… I talk English with my children mostly, but they speak Maltese with my wife,” he said.

“It is important in a way. Even back home they were losing a bit of Maltese heritage by speaking English. It’s nice to know a little bit about your own language. It’s beautiful.”

Sport proved an effective way to build ties in the local community, with Charlie fondly recalling days spent following Morwell Pegasus and Morwell Falcons soccer clubs.

He also spent 14 years on the committee of the Morwell Maltese Club, which his wife Maria still attends every Sunday.

The change in pace was the biggest challenge for Charlie upon his arrival, but having successfully adapted to the new lifestyle, he wouldn’t change it for anything.

“The only thing was the first 10 months I was so bored, coming from a small island where everyone was so close to each other,” Charlie said.

“I always say that, not just Malta but Europe, they know they are living. They work hard and at night, especially summer, they go out. It’s nice but I won’t live there, it’s too busy, it’s too fast.

“I’m proud to be Maltese but I always tell people, ‘I’m happy I was born in Malta but Australia gave me life’.”

 

The #WaysWeHello series explores and celebrates some of the many different greetings you may encounter in the Latrobe Valley to encourage greater social connection across our diverse community.

Say Bongu to Charlie!

Lives in Morwell

Bongu.

Carmello – Maltese

 

From Carmello of Malta to Charlie of Morwell, language and identity have long gone hand-in-hand for Charlie Mallia.

Raised in Msida, a harbour town located near Malta’s capital city, Valletta, Charlie emigrated to Australia with his wife, Maria, and their two sons, Kevin and Dion, in October of 1980.

The young family – later completed with the arrival of twins Shaun and Tracey – joined Maria’s parents and 10 siblings that had gradually been settling in the Latrobe Valley since 1952.

While language can often be a barrier to social inclusion in a new country, and with limited community integration services available at the time, Charlie was fortunate to have a solid base to draw on.

“There was a lot of Maltese here and most from the same town,” Charlie said.

“English was our second language back home because we were ruled by the British and the ones who didn’t learn it that was up to them because by law you had to learn it second.”

What was once a second language, soon became second nature, but Charlie is passionate about retaining his native tongue as a link to his culture and still finds himself saying ‘bongu’ as often as ‘hello’.

“With my wife and her brother and sister we speak Maltese mostly… I talk English with my children mostly, but they speak Maltese with my wife,” he said.

“It is important in a way. Even back home they were losing a bit of Maltese heritage by speaking English. It’s nice to know a little bit about your own language. It’s beautiful.”

Sport proved an effective way to build ties in the local community, with Charlie fondly recalling days spent following Morwell Pegasus and Morwell Falcons soccer clubs.

He also spent 14 years on the committee of the Morwell Maltese Club, which his wife Maria still attends every Sunday.

The change in pace was the biggest challenge for Charlie upon his arrival, but having successfully adapted to the new lifestyle, he wouldn’t change it for anything.

“The only thing was the first 10 months I was so bored, coming from a small island where everyone was so close to each other,” Charlie said.

“I always say that, not just Malta but Europe, they know they are living. They work hard and at night, especially summer, they go out. It’s nice but I won’t live there, it’s too busy, it’s too fast.

“I’m proud to be Maltese but I always tell people, ‘I’m happy I was born in Malta but Australia gave me life’.”

 

The #WaysWeHello series explores and celebrates some of the many different greetings you may encounter in the Latrobe Valley to encourage greater social connection across our diverse community.

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