As Palestinian poet Darwish once said; ”I am from there, I am from here, but I am neither there nor here. I have two names which meet and part… I have two languages, but I have long forgotten— which is the language of my dreams…” For a man who has lived many years in exile, ‘Home’ should be a problematic term to define. In the case of Cyprus, before the separation, people from different communities knew each other and they knew what they had in common so that they lived in harmony. However, post-separation resulted in misconceptions. At this point, Home for cooperation serves as a bridge for uniting younger generations under peaceful schemes and cultural activities including the massive Buffer fringe festival, Rooftop Theater, Rooftop Thursdays, Rooftop Yoga sessions and many more which will eventually result in interaction and cooperation. The driving force of the home was the Association for historical dialogue and research in which their vision and mission impressed me from the very first day.
Think about a place, a community in which intellectuals, artists, educators, peace-makers can collaborate and reinforce critical & historical thinking to understand the events, society and historiography better- to raise awareness and to consolidate dialogue with multiperspectivity. In short, to result in blooming and flowering among Cypriots. However, what impressed me the most is the “Peace players Cyprus”. The manifesto of the charity is to “use the game of basketball to allow 8-17 year old Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot boys and girls to play together, learn together and build positive relationships that overcome generations of mistrust and formidable physical barriers to interaction”. I personally believe in the magic of sport as a unifying force of peace and a tool of creating a common identity, regardless ethnic, ideological and religious differences across the divide. Sport can also promote universal values that transcend language and culture. I felt this while reading the blog posts and stories of the charity online. Stories of the Peace players appeared to be the stories of “transformation”. According to the statistics, 90% of the participants succeeded in breaking the socially constructed stigmas by wanting to interact and make friends with the peers from the other side. This bi-communal organization resulted in a potential to design a reliable, life-long social change. As photographer Rassinoux mentioned in his blog post, barriers are not physical sometimes, but mental. This cooperation between both societies has put a smile on my face and filled my heart both with joy and melancholy.
With all of the aforementioned unifying and positive aspects, my experience at the home is a little bit surreal yet real. Those who also know the history of the area will probably feel the same way. What I believe is that; Cyprus is like a boat on the sea and we all have something in common; culture, poetry, arts & customs. I am glad to be guided by a group of striving people who are working for peace. Cyprus made me question borders and identity. It made me who I am today. I truly believe that the efforts dedicated to peace at the Home for Cooperation are unconditionally impacting the community every day. Be a supporter of peace and don’t forget that for a peace to be sustainable it has to be supported by its people.
Sevilay Cesurer (Cyprus)