17 Feb No Assumptions, Please!
The End of a Journey.
This week I received my Level 4 Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts. Because of Covid19 the course couldn’t finish in June 2020 but only in October. Unfortunately we couldn’t have a proper ceremony but MCAST is planning to do it later. I wanted to share some reflections on my two-year journey.
I first joined MCAST in 2018. It was different to the school I went to before as the students at MCAST used Maltese a lot which I found quite difficult as I don’t understand the language. What also made MCAST different was that some of my classmates needed to work to help their families, so it took time for me to adjust. My friend from the school that I went to was also doing the same course as I was which made life easier.
We would have huge gaps in our schedule or sometimes the lecturers wouldn’t show up (but luckily this didn’t happen often) so I got used to hanging around a lot on campus. We would usually go to Lidl, which was across the road from MCAST, sometimes we would spend most of our breaks in the park which is next to the institute. Sometimes we would also spend some of our breaks in the Greek theatre. Once we even visited an old bunker from World War 2 and had lunch on top of it!
In the first year I was assigned to a teaching assistant for two of the units which were sound and costumes as they were more hands on. By the second and last year of the diploma I was originally meant to have a teaching assistant but I never got one. Then Covid19 came along, in March we stopped going into campus and lectures became online. But to be honest it was fine as I became a professional at managing on my own in lectures and social wise.
I basically created a whole life for myself. I even joined our school choir in breaks which were usually on Wednesday and Thursdays. It was mainly for those who were doing performing arts and I made good friends with the first years and I had a brilliant social circle there and I always looked forward to it.
The only problem was that my batch were only friends within campus but not outside as most of them worked. Inside campus we spent a lot of times singing together especially ‘Riptide’ by Vance Joy which became our signature song and we would sing it everywhere.
In our class we set up our own group chat on Messenger where we would:
- Remind each other about upcoming assignments.
- Remind each other at what time to upload the assignments and how we were meant to go around it.
- Helping each other to write emails to our lecturers.
- We would post videos and photos of what we did after every class so that everyone would have them.
- Sometimes I would step in to be a source of advice or to help them out with something.
- It was also a space where I would ask them things which I found difficult and did not understand and they would help me out instantly.
For the assignments my parents would follow up closely with me to see if I clearly understood what I was doing, kept track of the assignments, read through my work to see if they were correct and pointing out if things were not clear and helped me with time management. Sometimes if the task required research, they would make sure that it was concise to what the task wanted me to do as sometimes I would have too many good sites so they had to help me to narrow it down a bit more.
In the first year MCAST was awarded a group Erasmus where we went to Italy to perform which you will read about in one of my next blog posts. I’ve also told you already about my individual Erasmus placement in London (https://openingdoors.org.mt/no-assumptions-please-2/). These two were the best things that happened in the course.
Of course, not everything was a walk in the park. The reason why I joined MCAST was because I wanted to do acting but I realized it was not the type of acting I was used to. A couple of negative memories are when a lecturer told me that my voice was too high pitch and said that I sounded like a child when it came to our performance, and another lecturer was not too subtle to point out that I was slowing down the class and holding them back. But at the same time, this same lecturer gave me work that I could do and she would always find time to sit by me and help me as I struggled with fine motor tasks.
But these were only a few exceptions as my batch were all very sweet and great people and they all supported and cared for me in their own ways, and most of the lecturers were really understanding, helpful and supportive. One of my favourite units ended up being Individual Social Responsibility where we learned more about ourselves and how to be a good citizen. I also enjoyed Contextual Studies where we learnt about the history of European theatre and my all time favourite course was Acting in front of a Camera.
My leaving message for you today is even though the journey won’t always be smooth, don’t put yourself down because you will have people who believe in you and with their support you can do it.