Cyprus: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Nicole B. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire

Last week, I was a part of the first group of SYA students to go to Cyprus. I am so happy that I decided to apply and lucky to have been able to go. Cyprus is a unique place that almost no one knows. It is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. The island is currently divided in two; the Republic of Cyprus (a recognized country) and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (not recognized). This is the result of the ongoing conflict.

The University of Nicosia, who brought us there, had many interesting activities planned for us. We visited many cathedrals, mosques and museums that were important to the projects that each of us had. In addition to this, we had the privilege to go to a U.N. military base in the “buffer zone” and sit in on a U.N. project meeting. There were British soldiers there and at the meeting, there were community leaders listening to what the U.N. official was proposing. We also met with an NGO that is doing peacemaking work with children. They gave us an informative presentation on how their organization brings children from both sides of the border together and provides less-biased history textbooks to schools. We were also able to meet and interview professors at the University of Nicosia. There, we had the opportunity to present our projects and ask them questions. So we had interesting and exciting discussions. Something else I didn’t expect to be amazing was our trip to the monasteries in the mountains. It was so natural and peaceful up there. Another fun thing we did was meet high school students from a town called Ayia Napa. We sat in circles in a cafe together, just getting to know each other. I became friends with some of them. And in the evenings, we had dinner, sometimes with SYA, sometimes not. The city of Nicosia is lively at night, so it was a wonderful experience to be able to live it.

    Our trip to Cyprus is beyond words. Not only was it beautiful and welcoming, but eye-opening and educational. I learned about the conflict and identity politics and history. And we had fun learning about all of it.

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