Internet, My Life & My Country ,
a couple of weeks the list was flooded with Turkish Cypriots, and now I was receiving
hundreds of e-mail messages each day. I was also organizing a conference back in Cyprus
with Greek Cypriots, a student initiative aimed at bringing the two communities together.
The whole organization was taking place over the Internet with people I have never seen in
Summer came and we were so excited about this meeting. Unfortunately all our efforts faded as the military refused to give us permission. This was my first year with the Internet. I was already the owner of one mailing list, one of the most active participants on another one, and had tried to organize a meeting across the borders of my country.
It was a pain over the summer not to have the Internet in my hands. I returned to Penn for my sophomore year ready to give birth to even more activities, and more time on the Internet. First I figured out how to use the World Wide Web and learned that the STWing computer enabled me to build a page. At that time there was no homepage about Cyprus on the Internet, so I took that opportunity and began building one. As the Web got more widespread my homepage became more famous, and some other people also began building Cyprus homepages. I was getting more and more involved in the Internet.
By October I had started organizing another meeting to take place in Washington D.C. during Winter Break. I met the first wave of extremist flaming while planning that meeting. My name was getting to be famous within the related communities on the Internet, and whenever I communicated with my parents back home, they told me people were talking about me and my activities on the Internet. There was another IRC channel established in the meantime, the first bicommunal Cyprus channel. I was spending a couple of hours per day, the time I had previously spent watching TV or playing computer games, online discussing the Cyprus conflict or organizing this meeting.
|Finally, Christmas came, and the meeting took place. It was a thrilling experience to get to know Greek Cypriots for the first time in my life. I had met them before but never had the chance to talk to them for hours. On the other hand, meeting people I had been talking over the Internet for almost a year was quite shocking; you build an image of the person you are talking to and after the first meeting it usually gets torn to pieces. Online characters are often very different than the way people are in real life. The meeting went well. The first thing I did when I came back was to form another mailing list for the people who had attended. Cyprus-l was also having troubles during that time. I moved its server to Penn, and it worked. Now, I was not only the person in charge of a homepage and organizing activities, but I had to deal with two mailing lists as well. My name was beginning to appear in newspapers in Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. People begun realizing the effects of my activities on my country and building peace there. The homepage was also growing constantly, and the Internet was being flooded with information about Cyprus and Cypriots talking. At the same time, the Internet was being introduced into Cyprus, and now everybody was talking about the Internet and getting e-mail accounts. I began organizing my third meeting. This time things went well. It took place over the summer, in the no-man's land between the two warring sides in Cyprus. A couple of conferences there mentioned my name, and newspapers and magazines were constantly discussing my activities. Until that point I hadn't realized how effective the Internet could be. Now I am in my third year at Penn. My homepage has grown extensively, and is still expanding. Cyprus-l has more than 150 members. My other mailing list has almost 100 members. There are couple of other mailing lists about Cyprus, a bunch of homepages, and hundreds of Cypriots on the Internet now. This past Thanksgiving I organized my fourth meeting, again over the Internet. I am planning to publish a journal, again organized and constructed mainly over the Internet. Cypriot politicians and peace activists are all talking about online activities, and they are getting more and more involved with the Internet. It is unbelievable that all this is the fruits of a computer network and its evolution. Why was I one of the pioneers in introducing|