This week’s blog is written by Eleni Partakki, a PPI-CY LDP member who received the opportunity to spend part of her summer in the United States via the Cyprus Friendship Program. Eleni wanted to share some of her experiences with her PPI family.
This summer, I spent the entire month of July in the U.S. state of New Hampshire paired with another CFP participant, Esin Saracoglu (Turkish speaking Cypriot). We were hosted by two amazing American families and were given the chance to spend the entire time together without any technology while working on peace building. Most importantly, we focused on creating an everlasting bond between us.
Once we landed we were kindly welcomed to what we had been looking forward to for months! We knew that an interesting month was ahead of us, filled with unknown experiences and challenges that would create lasting memories and mark our lives forever. Here is a glimpse of our adventure.
In a quick flash: we went whale watching in the Atlantic Ocean, hiked Mt. Monadnock (3,165 feet (965 m) high), explored many farms, watched 4th of July fireworks opposite a mesmerizing lake, ate delicious food, watched “Inside Out” at a Drive-In, canoed and kayaked with the rest of the teenagers from CFP, attended our first baseball game and toured the Hall of Fame. I also went to a Michael Franti concert, walked on a bridge over the Hudson River, had a tour of the UN and Statue of Liberty in NYC, took a stroll around Central Park, zip-lined, ate s’mores and attended a circus. I had a LOT of ice-cream, walked around the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, explored Harvard University, did some berry picking, had a brilliant Ben & Jerry’s factory tour with free ice cream, tried out Contra Dancing and genuinely had a fantastic month with my pair.
Throughout the month, we also visited 3 different Farmers Markets across New Hampshire. We even had our own stand, where we sold traditional Cypriot food, supported the Local Food Movement and spread the word about our island and our desire for peace! In the process, we met a wonderful lady, Sarah Sandback, founder of KidZenith, who helped us out and inspired us incredibly, letting our ‘creative juices,’ kick in!
I traveled across 5 different states and met lots of people that helped shape me. I completed an entire ropes course with the support of every single one of the teenagers in our New Hampshire group. Each of them believed in me and helped me out. We analyzed forms of character we had to build within ourselves in a Conflict Resolution class and we encouraged each other to be their best self throughout the entire month.
Honestly, it was absolutely incredible and surely one of the best months of my life. Though I must admit, I am not sure I’ll remember exactly what I did as much as I’ll remember what I felt and the people I met. Leaving was a lot harder than I expected because it wasn’t about walking away from things I did but walking away from people that were now part of my life and were greatly treasured in my heart.
After an entire month filled with adventures, I am pleased to say, there is hope for peace as long as we all set our mind to it. The world won’t change overnight and we cannot worry about that. All of those reading this must just take a step and work for peace daily and you will eventually manage to lead more people to peace. Share the love.
“A lot of times we look at the whole world and think, ‘it’s so daunting, how can we change the whole world?’ and you don’t need to do that, what you need to do is change your world a little bit, and see if you can, through example, inspire others to do the same thing” – Michael Franti