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"
Our Family hosted 2 young men from Cyprus this past July. We had a wonderful time showing them what American life is like and enjoyed taking care of them. We especially enjoyed having them cook with us and travel to several places together to "show them the sights. I have hosted other exchange type program is the past and this was by far the best experience we have had.
My family hosted two fine young ladies from Cyprus and had a great cultural exchange. My favorite lesson was how we are all in this together. They brought their very strong local coffee as a gift. I asked about the coffee while we were enjoying it one morning. Gizem said "Maria calls it Greek coffee, we call it Turkish coffee, but it is the same."
My family had a great opportunity to host 2 great young ladies from Cyprus. It was great to be able share our time together and see the world and a different culture from two vibrant and smart young ladies. My kids really had fun with them and enjoyed hearing about a different country. I think the girls had a good time an enjoyed their American experience. I would definitely do it again. Bo D.
I had the opportunity to be hosted by such a perfect family, Dimicelli family. It was an amazing opportunity for me to spend one month away from conflict in Cyprus with my Greek-Speaking Cypriot friend. We shared same room during one month. However, it is not just about sharing a room , we also shared our ideas, opinions, friendship and so on. Each day we found more chance to learn about each other to be able to build a sustainable friendship and peace between us. During one month in America, we attend workshops and also rope climbing activity with our other friends from Cyprus. I believe that this activities strengthen our trust to each other. I feel lucky that I had chance to attend this program; meet and make friendship with Greek-Speaking Cypriot friends. This program is not just going to America and spent one month with a Greek-Speaking Cypriot friend. Our families also met with each other in Cyprus, came together and spend time. From my experiences with my Greek-Speaking Cypriot friends, I can clearly see that we don’t have that much difference and our cultures are similar to each other. Why we shouldn’t united in a country divided…!!!! I highly recommend this program to everyone.
Our family hosted a pair of teens this past summer. I will be honest that I had trepidation based on friends' experiences with visiting teens in other programs. My concerns were addressed beautifully by the Cyprus Friendship Program director and we took the leap of faith which resulted in one of the most enjoyable and meaningful experiences my family has ever had. The teens were amazing people who taught us so much and soaked up the American experience with great respect and enthusiasm. We stay in touch and I feel that they are a part of our family forever. This program is brilliantly conceived and thoughtfully executed. I know it will sustain and continue its success as it is truly a win-win on so many levels for all involved. Thank you to the founders , administrators and participants for this amazing program.
We hosted 2 teens in 2010 and another pair in 2011. FANTASTIC experience for our family and for the visiting teens. We truly feel that our family has expanded & we keep in touch with all the teens. Coming from opposite sides of conflict in Cyprus, they learn about each other and work towards a future in which both sides come together in peace. Being a part of this process is humbling as we watched the teens learn about each other and their stories. Although we were unable to be a part of the program in 2012, we will certainly participate again in the future. For now we are immensely proud of "our girls" who are all at university, keep in touch with one another, and have plans to meet up again one day!
I had a lovely experience this summer hosting 2 teens from the Cyprus Friendship Program (CFP). The teens participated in many program activities in Cyprus in the months prior to their visit to the US. They studied their nation's history, the issues leading up to the current Cypriot conflict, and types and methods of conflict resolution. They were thus ready to spend 4 weeks in (what is for them) neutral US territory, to build strong friendships with their pairs to take back to Cyprus and use as a foundation for future peace efforts in the island nation. The teens were smart, friendly, ready to try new things, meet new people, and have new experiences. They were thrilled to be in the US, and I was thrilled to show my country to them. It is quite an experience to see your country through someone else's eyes! The 12 teens in our region also got along well as a group, and we host families enjoyed having the kids together. When the group was ready to fly back to Cyprus, there were MANY tears at the airport! These wonderful kids will always be a part of our lives. I would encourage anyone to participate in the CFP.
Last July, we hosted two teen boys from opposing sides of a National conflict in Cyprus. My family was sad for the time to end. My children will forever be changed by the experience of hearing first hand about what it is like growing up in an a country that requires peacekeeping forces to prevent war. This coming from boys, the same age as my children, who had just a year or two before they were required to perform military duty for opposite sides of the conflict. Over family meals they shared their feelings of loss and regret, of hope, and of their dreams of the future that sounded almost identical. And when we said goodnight, they returned to their bedroom that they shared and talked some more. I like to think that alone they talked about the shared experience of being so far way from home, of the weird American customs our family had, of the thrill of learning baseball etc. The point being that I feel the brilliant design of the program worked to promote peace as it was intended to: starting the process of with teenagers who will be the future leaders of the their shared country.Watching the bond between these to boys grow, gave my family a sense of hope and the sense that in a small way we may have contributed to the larger task of world peace.
As a followup to the program that brought Catholic and Protestant teenagers from Ireland together so successfully, the Cyprus Friendship Program has a similar mission in joining Turkish and Greek-speaking Cypriot teens for a month's experience with host families in the U.S. Students are selected for the program based on their commitment to peace and promoting the dream of a united Cyprus and for their proficiency in English, the common language among us all. The Greeks don't understand the Turks, who don't understand the Greeks, and we do not speak either language. Our students, two marvelous girls from either side of the division were not only skilled English speakers but enthusiastic participants in just about everything that came their way this past summer. Our time with them was exciting, fun, educational, full of ethnic food and drink, shopping, sightseeing, college talk, and swimming. They frequently said that it was like "a dream, a fairy tale, a movie" to be in America. And through the friendship that blossomed with them, our feeling was the same. We will travel to Cyprus one day to see again, and we continue to encourage them to apply to universities in the United States. Now we feel we have another family nearly halfway around the world. What an experience!
The Cyprus Friendship Program is a very well run organization - they communicate expectations well and are available for questions along the way. It is humbling to be hosts for such motivated and mature students - future leaders. It is also a lot of fun!