The Cyprus Friendship Program (CFP) is an all-volunteer, people-to-people, program focused on developing trust and understanding through relationships between Turkish and Greek-speaking residents of Cyprus. In a land deeply divided by politics and culture, CFP works to break down the divisions by building lasting, positive relationship between teenagers living in the midst of deep political and cultural division.
The work has been going on for several years with youth ages 15-17 in Cyprus. The youth are carefully selected and matched up in pairs. Each participant in the program spends several months getting to learn about the culture of their partner and they build relationships with each other. Leadership training and teambuilding take place. Then in July, the pairs of teenagers arrive in the U.S. to live with host family for two to four weeks. The experience has helped to break down prejudice and hostility not only for the people they interact with back home as well.
This year, the CEP is branching out with a new initiative bringing teens from Israeli and Palestinian families together for a “Peace Initiative.” CRP will be working in partnership with Jerusalem Peacebuilders to match up Palestinian and Israeli teens to go through a process of leadership training, cultural immersion and relationship building. These teens will be coming to the U.S. in July for two weeks at a retreat center in New England and then two weeks to live in the homes of various host families in the Frederick area.
Host families are needed to provide a home for a pair of teens for the last two weeks of July 2018. Each host family is to be politically neutral, provide a safe environment with appropriate adult supervision, and a bedroom for teens to share. Host families do not need to transport or entertain the teens 24/7. And neither do they need to have other teens at home. The Rotary Club of Carroll Creek is working on this effort and I hope that Calvary United Methodist Church might also share in this experience in some way also, either as hosts or provide some help and activities during the weeks that the program is in Frederick. More information and applications can be made at http://cyprusfriendship.org/ and to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be peacemakers and to love our neighbor. This is an excellent way we can do just that.