Cyprus Friendship Program (2013 & 2014)
The Rotary Club of Tigard participates in partial funding of the Cyprus Friendship Program’s Portland section. A 501(C)(3) nonprofit, CFP promotes peace and understanding in Cyprus by bringing together teenagers from both sides of the Greek & Turkish divide with future leadership potential, encouraging lifelong friendships among them, and extending these friendships to their friends and families. After being selected for the program in February, the teens spend the spring season getting to know about the others’ cultures and learning about each other as individuals. After about a month of interactions, they partner up with someone from the other side of the divide and become a formal “pair.” Soon after, the activities include the families of the teens, so the bonds within the communities quickly grow exponentially.
In July, the pairs of teenagers arrive for the U.S. Residential portion of CFP. While in the U.S., each pair lives together with an American host family for four weeks. The aim of this four-week residency is to promote friendship and understanding through interaction and to further develop leadership skills. The teens begin to discover what they have in common and learn to communicate and cooperate as they move together through their time in the U.S.
Pairs of teen are sent in groups to a host family in one of the following locations:
While living with their host families, all the Cypriot teens in one area get together at least once a week for the following group activities: a team building ropes course, a conflict resolution workshop, a day of community service, and a workshop on environmental issues. In addition to these leadership-training activities, the teens gather for social activities, which include their host families and friends.
Back in Cyprus, the pairs’ families keep in touch, particularly to share news they receive from their teens during bi-weekly calls. It is an opportunity for each family to become accustomed to interacting with families from the other community. By the time everyone comes together for the graduation celebration in October, the families are very familiar and comfortable with each other and committed to their new relationships and CFP.