YEP 4 workshop in Pyla

The Youth Encounters for Peace 4 (YEP 4) workshop took place at the Friendship and Co-operation House in Pyla on the 2bd and 3rd of September 2000 and it was attended by Greek and Turkish Cypriot students. In these pages you will find some photographs from the workshop, poetry and reflections written by some of the participants.

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When I found out I was selected to go to America with Turkish Cypriots I couldn't believe itŠ I had been in Pila and Ive met Turkish Cypriots before and the idea of spendind 2 whole weeks with them in a foreign country (and especially in america) was not at all frightening ,on the contrary it was a challenge! I had never actually spent so much time with a Turkish Cypriot,talking about our problem and discussing about Cyprus but the fact that I met TurkishCypriots before decreased my worries and fears about what they would be like and if we would got along .I met some really nice T/Cs in the past so I wasn't really worried about themŠ

The one thing I was worried about was our discussions..I knew that their positions were opposite than ours and I hoped that there werent going to be any fanatics so that we could avoid conflicts and rows. Everything worked out better than I expected.. Both sides expressed their opinions calmly and although there were disagreements between us we always managed to resolve our differences and come to some kind of agreement..About who was right and who was wrong .. We were capable to see the other side's point of view and talk about our needs and their needs and understand how they feel and why they feel that wayŠ We were really communicating and if teenagers like us can communicate and agree that means that we are braking the imaginary wall some people have built between usŠ

Through our dialoque groups we learned a lot of thingsŠ We learned about Cyprus history we were not taught in school, we learned to listen to opposite oppinions and not judge untill we know all the facts, we learned to respect other people the way we want to be respected and most of all we discovered the real face of our so-called enemy and found out that they are not our enemies at all! They are teenagers just like us, they have the same feelings, the same thoughts , the same problemsŠ We looked so alike that one can not tell who were the Turkish and who were the Greek Cypriots.

The dialogue groups weren't the only thing that brought us togetherŠEvery passing minute we were becoming closer friends, all of our insecurities and fears were disappearing as we got to know each other betterŠWe worked together in so many things ,we competed in mixed teams, we played basketball and volleyball and we got lost in the forest together.. We danced and partied together ,we went shopping together and every night in our dormitories we shared our depest thoughts and secretsŠ

We bonded so much that it was incredibly difficult for us to say goodbye in America and then go back to the same country and not be able to meet each otherŠ That really upsets us, the fact that there are people who live in the same city but they are not aloud to see each otherŠ Some soldiers and barbed wires keep us apart and the only place we can meet is a village near the buffet zone which many of us find it difficult to go thereŠ

I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to meet my "enemy" and to find out just how many things we have in common and how alike we areŠ I m determined to keep in contact with my Turkish Cypriot friends and to try to make other Greek Cypriots realize that things are not always as they seemŠTurkish Cypriots are not heartless dangerous enemies ,they are people like us, they want peace like us ,they want to live in Cyprus with safety and free, just like we want to be free and feel safeŠ

In Vermont we started a fight.. We started a war against the wall of hate that stands between us.. we hold hands and walked though the fire togetherŠand we are not out of that fire yet.. But as long as we hold hands we are going to get out of the fire together, still holding hands. We are the youth, we are the hope for a better tomorrow and are going to fight, together, for the futureŠI will never forget the summer of 2000..It made me a whole new personŠA person who cares and who is determined to fight for peace ,holding hands with "the enemy".


click on images to enlarge

Charis Achilleos, Ayse Gurkan

Facilitators: Neslihan Vektaoglu, Yiouli Napoleontos, Nicos Anastasiou, Samiye Taskin, Ulus Irkad

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