Cyprus Friendship Program in Portland & SW Washington (District 5100)
Cyprus, located in the eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, north of Egypt and west of Syria, has been divided by a patrolled UN buffer zone since 1974, with Turkish-speaking Muslims on the north and Greek-speaking Christians on the south. The Cyprus Friendship Program (CFP) brings together teenagers from both Cypriot communities to promote peaceful interaction and understanding between the two groups. CFP is a year-long peace-building and leadership training program in Cyprus, with a four week cultural exchange component in the United States in the summer. By developing cross-cultural friendships, the teens build mutual respect for each other, breaking down the historical stereotypes and mistrust that exist. Upon return to Cyprus, the teens are in a position to share the message with family and friends of their own communities that Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking Cypriots can live together peacefully. Indeed, many of the students who have participated in the program are doing just that – working together for peace.
This year our friends in Cyprus received and evaluated 163 applicants for the CFP year-long peace-building and leadership training program – the most received to date. Sixty teens (30 pairs) were selected for the U.S. residency program and 54 teens were selected for the camp. With these teens, CFP will have touched the lives of 483 Cypriot teens and their families. We are extremely grateful to the tireless efforts of our volunteer coordinators in the U.S. and in Cyprus.
Several Rotary Clubs in District 5100 support the CFP through donations for airfare expenses of teens as well as Rotarians hosting those teens who participate in the Portland leg of the program.