Our family hosted two amazing young men last summer. We had never hosted teens before, so we were unsure what to expect. The experience was life changing not only for my husband and myself but also for our 14 year old son. The love we feel for these young people and their families is beyond measure!
Words are not enough to describe Cyprus Friendship Program... No matter who you ask, everyone who had a part in this program will tell you how unique and amazing the experience is.
I participated in 2011 and went to Portland, OR with my G/C partner Constantina. I still remember our very first day together. The interview process. When I first arrived, she was talking with another G/C. I was just standing and waiting for a T/C to come. Someone I know. There she was, sitting on the bench and saying 'ela re' which means come. She was telling me to go and sit with her. I knew what that word meant and started walking towards her. I told her that I am T/C and she looked so surprised. She told me that I look like a G/C. Even a Cypriot can not tell if a person is G/C or T/C by looking at their faces. We are almost identical.
Words are not enough to describe how CFP changed my life...First of all,a person whom I have never heard of his presence before one year ago,now means too much to me!!!Then our friendship is not lost when we came back to our lovely ısland...It is very important to me and we are still meeting each other and each other's friends making new friends for ourselves from the other community.Furthermore,now we have families in the USA who loves us and hosted us very warmly...As a known fact,America is said to be the land of oppurtunities and dreams and I can wholeheartedly say that we lived an American dream our sisters and brothers...we are sad that dream was over but at the same time it means that hopes and actions for peace and unification is not over...When I came back to my home,I tattes CFP's motto on my body because as CFP changed my life,and I tattes its motto in order not to forget how it changed my life...
IN A COUNTRY DIVIDED,PEOPLE UNITED!!!!!
I'm a 15 year old Cypriot teenager that participated in the Cyprus Friendship Programme this summer and I have to say it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. The experience is life changing. My partner, Yagmur, and I got along very well and through this special experience got even closer.
It is hard to form friendships between teenagers from the two communities because of the society we live in. We are strongly discouraged by many people to even acknowledge the presence of the other community, so CFP is a very special programme.
Strong bonds were created between pairs, teenagers and families. For example, my parents and Yagmur's parents have become very good friends through the programme. Apart from that, the two families that hosted us - the Fish family and the Belvin family - are like our other parents. In fact, I am glad to say that one of the families is going to visit us soon!
To sum up, I want to say once again what a life changing programme this is, I don't know where I would be without it.
Our family enjoys hosting teens from Cyprus. These young people are full of life and love and are willing to open themselves up to new experiences and new people in a foreign country. They bring fresh insights, a vibrant culture and a lot of love and joy to our lives. The more we open ourselves up to sharing time and experiences with these young courageous people and the other families in the program, the more fun we all have together. The program is a wonderful opportunity for these teens to bond with each other as pairs, with their host families and as a young Cypriot community without borders. The interpersonal connections they make and experiences they share, will continue to influence them for years to come.
We hosted a couple of boys this past summer. They were a little shy at first, but unfailingly polite. As we got to know them (say, by the second day) we found them to be funny, friendly, intelligent, wry, engaging, always positive and personable. We also got to see a very human side of them and share their disappointments in, and hopes for, themselves. We really got the feeling that these are individuals who won't be stopped by whatever artificial boundaries have been created on Cyprus between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. The organization is beautifully organized and run, doing a thorough job of vetting both the students and the host families, and staying right on top of any issues that may arise. By the end of the stay we felt close to the boys and would love one day to visit them and their families in their country.
My wife and i had the wonderful privilege and experience of hosting a pari of Cypriot teens in the Summer of 2011. We were somewhat familiar with Cyprus, in terms of its location and its beauty, but had little knowledge in terms of the protracted conflict and the division of Cypriot people, literally and geographically since 1974. Once understanding the mission of the Cyprus Friendship Programme and our advocacy for youth in having a voice in their future around the world, we saw " a fite" and we jumped in and became host parents for a month in July of 201l. From our perspective, we not only felt that we were helping these two teens build a relationship that they would take back home with them, but we were literally doing something to promote peace. These two young men are now members of our family as are there families in Cyprus. Upon there return, our two teen boys, on their own convinced there Turkish and Greek Cypriot families to meet together for dinner, which comprised more than thirty people. The evening was filled with talk, sharing food and story and meeting us via Skype, as a laptop was passed to all present for us to meet. These boys are making a difference, their families are now dialoguing with " the other", and we are once again have signed up to be a host family for 2013. Our lives are now more rich and fulfilled as a result!
This was our second year hosting students from Cypres. It has proved to be a fantastic way to work for peace while enjoying the benefits of hosting foreign students in your home. We have children who are just a bit younger than the students we hosted. It was a great experience for our kids to see how teenagers can work to change the world. In choosing peace over hostility, as one Cypriot student put it, "we are the rebels". These Cypriot teens will have a big impact on their country as they work to find peaceful solutions to the thorny social and political issues their two peoples face. In the meantime, we had the pleasure of showing them the area, have interesting conversations, listen to Cypriot music and eat wonderful delicacies that our students brought as gifts. The first year we hosted two boys and the second year we hosted to girls. Both pairs were wonderful and it was interesting getting to know about the Turkish and Greek communities of Cypres from both male and female perspectives.
My husband and I volunteered as hosts for Maria (Greek speaking Cypriot) and Buse (Turkish speaking Cypriot) in July of 2012. We were impressed with the girls willingness to learn about each other's families and cultures, but also with their ability to truly befriend each other. I am very impressed with the level of volunteer commitment of everyone involved as host families, regional coordinators, the executive director and board. All are volunteers, no paid staff. I continue to volunteer working on public relations for the group. Pegg Monahan \
I am Stavriana, a Greek speaking Cypriot and together with my Turkish speaking Cypriot friend Melisa, we had the great opportunity to spend a month in America and be hosted by an amazing host family. The concept behind this was spending a month on neutral ground and share a room. Based on this idea a strong friendship was developed. We realised that what was connecting the youth of our country was far stronger than what was keeping us apart. Having the chance to explore America together with DiMicelli family was an amazing experience! The fact is that now I know that I have a family in America! Beyond that my family is now very close with Melisa's family and therefore I can say that CFP was really successful in all aspects! "WE ARE NOT FIGHTING EACH OTHER. WE ARE FIGHTING THE MASK OF THE DEVIL WE PAINTED ON EACH OTHER'S FACE"