By Bonnie Klap.
The historic “Huis Schuylenburg,” the stunning 18th century residence of His Excellency Mr. Franz Josef Kremp, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, makes for a beautiful setting to interview Dr. Paul Micallef, the partner of Ambassador Kremp.
We are having coffee in the yellow room, as I ask Dr. Micallef who is a Clinical Psychologist by profession to tell us a bit more about himself.
“At the moment my life seems to be all about juggling balances trying hard to fulfill the responsabilities I have. With our recent arrival in The Hague there is a whole new bunch of exciting responsabilities and challenges linked to helping manage the residence, getting to know so many new people, and supporting the Ambassador in his role. Then, there is my profession and work, which in recent years evolved into consulting and advising companies and businesses on matters linked to well-being, leadership, and organisational development. My special interest is in helping employees experience higher levels of satisfaction, pride and motivation whilst performing better and producing more.
Then I have two elderly parents living in Malta and who require a lot of care and attention right now. This adds to the expectations and concerns, and requires some travelling as they are there and I feel obliged to support them. Basically I feel like I’m juggling three jobs on top of my own personal life and wish to settle down here in The Hague, discover the city, make new friends, and enjoy The Netherlands. Regarding Huis Schuylenburg: “Naturally it is a privilege and an honor to live in such a beautiful and remarkable house but it comes with a price tag so to speak, one which people perhaps don’t fully appreciate. A historic house like this requires constant attention and upkeep, and there is the staff that also needs looking after and attending to.”
It is a remark often heard among foreign Diplomats who are posted in The Netherlands: The Dutch are very direct. What are Dr. Micallef’s experiences in this respect?
“While I was at University in the UK one of my best friends was Dutch so I was introduced to the so-called ‘Dutch directness’ many years ago and we have kept in touch ever since so I got used to it in some way. I have also visited The Netherlands several times both as a tourist and visiting friends who lived, or live, here. So that helped me to appreciate the directness. Moreover, because of the close and interesting relationship that exists between The Netherlands and Germany this whole issue of directness is not so new to the Germans either”.
It is evident that Dr. Micallef has a very busy life. How does he like to spend his free time?
“We love to travel and the Ambassador’s main hobby is history so when we travel together, it’s a great combination. I rarely need a guide book and it’s like having my own personal guide. European countries are great destinations because of their rich histories. We find that relaxing. I also love reading but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to do so much of that. Because of my work and the sometimes disturbing stories I hear, I usually escape into fiction. In terms of sports I like swimming and Pilates, two activities I got into because of back problems which with time have actually become part of my life and routine.”
As Dr. Micallef is so well-travelled, I ask him how many languages he speaks?
“I grew up bilingual speaking Maltese and English but I also learned Italian, French and Arabic at school. In Malta, Classical Arabic used to be a prerequisite to go on to higher secondary and tertiary education, so there was a time when we had to study Arabic too. Sadly, not anymore and when you’re young you don’t really appreciate such “gifts”. And then of course German became very important especially when I became German too. Today I am really glad I learned some languages especially because of our strong links to diplomatic life!”