My name is Marc Sanko, I am a member of Stars and Stripes Malta and a third generation Maltese-American. Over the course of the past year I have worked with the organization in an attempt to claim my Maltese Citizenship. It has been filled with many ups and downs and great stories of along the way. These next few blogs will be the story of this journey and about my background and hopeful future.
The story starts in the 1920’s with my great-grandparents who moved from Malta to America, and unusually it was not because they were searching for higher paying jobs and the typical promises that awaited everyone in the United States. Instead it was for medical reasons. My grandmother, it turns out, as a child would get very sick from the sun in Malta and the doctors advised that they seek a milder climate. So it was off to America where my great grandfather immigrated to Detroit, Michigan and found employment at the Ford Assembly Plant. It was from this job that he was able to make enough money to build a home and send for the rest of his family to move to Detroit and rejoin him after a considerable time apart.
By the end of World War 2 most of my grandmothers and grandfathers families made the move to Detroit and joined the Maltese Community living in Detroit’s Corktown on the South side of the city. As the years wore on the families began drifting slowly apart, some had begun to move over the river into the Canadian city of Windsor and others gravitated towards the new and expanding suburbs of Detroit. That is where I come into the story; 22 years ago I was born in the suburbs of Detroit to a Maltese family.
At this point in time (late 1980’s) the Maltese community in the Metro-Detroit area had long lost its sense of closeness, no longer would you walk out your door and hear all your neighbors conversing in Maltese, rather it was a time where everyone was raised to speak English and be American. However in the mid to late-1990’s there seemed to be a revival among the older generation to share with us the roots of our family, the Maltese stories and many times even attempts to teach our generation the language. Unfortunately in my family the language didn’t stick very well as those who knew it and spoke it began to die off before any substantial teaching could be done. Needless to say it did inspire me.
All through grade school and even into my undergraduate studies in college I have been deeply interested in the history and lifestyle of the Maltese and myself and many of my cousins have done as much as we can to immerse ourselves in the Maltese culture. From learning to make pastizzi to more (failed) attempts at learning and conversing in Maltese, and it was at this point I personally began to want more of a true connection with my ancestral homeland. So I began to formulate a plan to study abroad in Malta or at least get my Graduate Degree at the University of Malta. I thought, ah ha! What an opportunity to also get my Maltese citizenship and all the advantages that would bring. It was about a year and a half ago that I finally contacted Stars and Stripes Malta to inquire about the process.
I have also found this book to be very insightful and full of pictures of Maltese in Detroit. Check it out, even if you just look at the pictures online!
Next Blog – Uncovering my past to find my future, the process of gaining citizenship.