Angelo Grima is a Maltese born in the United States into a family from Nadur, Gozo who had emigrated to New York more than 60 years ago. Mr Grima is one of the Maltese who have made a name for themselves in the US. He joined the National Geographic Society in 1992 and is now its Vice-President. 

My family emigrated to New York the year before I was born. They wanted to try and make a better living. In the decade after World War II, there was not a lot of opportunity in Malta, particularly in Gozo where my parents are from.  My father had been in the British merchant marine during the war, and he had been to New York a couple of times.

I chose to study law because I wanted to use it in a practical way to achieve some good. I was interested in both philosophy graduate school and law school. It was a close call, but law eventually won out.

My job at National Geographic is great. There’s never a dull moment, whether it is developing a partnership to help us fund an expedition to Mount Everest or launching a new educational initiative. The thing I enjoy the most is helping to get the message out about the wonders of the planet and the increasing need to protect it. I am proud of helping to make a positive difference for our explorers in the field and, through their work, for the world at large.

I love going back to Malta to visit. I have been back at least twenty times over the years. I still have relatives and friends there, and it is a beautiful country. Although the people I know are all in Gozo, I make it a point to stay at least a few days on the main island and see as much as I can. We still have the house that my mother grew up in in Nadur, which makes things easy once we’re there. The challenge is finding enough time to make the trip.

BirdLife Malta are doing a great job. I am also really pleased with the greater attention being paid to preserving the distinctive and historically important things in Malta, as well as the advanced recycling and conservation efforts.

I became a Maltese citizen last year. But I don’t intend to move there permanently - my family and most of my friends are here. I certainly would like to maintain a residence in Malta and look forward at some point to spending more time there and learning how to speak the language.

I regret not learning Maltese. My parents spoke Maltese with each other all the time, but they always spoke English with us. I don’t blame them at all. At times it was difficult having a name like mine growing up here, and I think they were concerned that not being able to speak English well would have made it worse. Still, I regret that we did not speak Maltese more when we had the chance.

Are you a Maltese person living abroad? Contact malteseabroad@timesofmalta.com

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