Youth Promoting Peace
History and founding of Y2P
When a number of teenagers, participated in conferences both in Cyprus and abroad, they were able to lay the seeds in founding a youth organization known as Youth Promoting Peace (Y2P). An original meeting which took place in Hawaii spurred two teenagers to do “something more”, to try to change things in Cyprus and to bring the young people of the two communities closer together. More conferences, which took place both in Cyprus and abroad gave the necessary inspiration and confidence to found the group and declare the dedication of its members to work for peace both in Cyprus and in the world. Since the inception of Y2P, the group has focused its efforts on the rapprochement between the two communities in Cyprus and the creation of bridges of communication, tolerance and understanding between the Greek Cypriots (GC) and the Turkish Cypriots (TC). A positive coinidence brought a senior facilitator Dr. Yiannis Laouris in contact with the early pioneers. Laouris was trained by international peace builders like Dr. Louise Diamond and Dr. Benjamin Broome. Equipped with extensive experience in facilitation of groups, being one of the Fulbright trained Senior Trainers, and having participated in many bi-communal activities and in lots of conferences both in Cyprus and abroad, he was able to respond to the needs of the group. At the same time, he was able to provide necessary information, knowledge, encouragment and positiveness in order to preserve and expand the enthusiasm of the young entrepreneurs. What is Y2P?
Y2P was inspired, designed and operated by youth
Y2P was a youth project, it was a project inspired, designed and operated by young people who wanted to raise their voices for their future. Y2P has developed into a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), an independent, non-politcal and non-profitable organization formed by youth initiatives, lead by the youth and governed by the youth. A highlight in the development of Y2P was achieved in late 1999 when the group secured a USAID grant that was awarded through United Nations Development Program to CNTI: Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute. CNTI acted as an umbrella organization for a number of bicommunal projects and activities. Y2P had the strong support of many other bicommunal groups and especially the NGO Support Center, which kindly provided space and infrastructure for meetings and workshops, the Technology for Peace group which hosted electronically all its activities, the Cyprus Conflict Resolution Trainers Group, which kindly provided facilitation during workshops, the Citizen’s movement for Re-unification and co-existence which provided networking, CYBER KIDS, which co-funded most of their activities, as well as many others.
Y2P Vision and Objectives
The vision of Y2P is significant to both communities. However, its vision and objectives do not only have an impact for the youth of the two communities but for all the citizens of the country. The vision of the group is to lay the foundations for a better and safer future through a number of bicommunal activities, which aim to bring the youth of the two communities in Cyprus, the GC and the TC closer together, to promote the principles of tolerance, mutual respect and common understanding. The young members of the organization envision enhancing the prospect of living in a place, which is not separated into two different parts, which has no limitations of any kind. Bringing the GC and TC young people together is not an easy task. The young group members have to find ways to connect on the basis that they have common things, whether those are experiences, problems, fears and questions about the future. This is why one of Y2P objectives are the creation of bridges of communication between the GC and TC youth and the promotion of long lasting friendships. At the same time Y2P tries to promote the development of the feeling of mutual respect and common understanding.
Y2P as a “molecule” of Cyprus future civil society
Y2P played an important role not only for its members but also for the whole community. This youth group has created new and exciting pathways to facilitate the cooperation of all bicommunal youth groups of Cyprus and to elevat their various activities to a community level thus preparing them to act and behave as active citizens in the emerging civil society of Cyprus. Their activites have enchanced cooporation, interaction and teamwork between existing bicommunal youth groups, have attracted people from various ethnic groups to participate and deepen their understanding of the notion of communication, solidarity, human rights, democracy and the role of the active citizen. Y2P has managed to change the society’s attitudes. It brought not only teenagers of the two comminities together but also adults. The group promotes principles of tolerance through conferences and events of undertsanding. The existance of the group itself in a small society like Cyprus has a great impact to the community since it has raised questions regarding education, forgiveness, history etc. However, most of all Y2P has given hope to the small society of Cyprus. It gives hope to those who believe that Cyprus doesn’t have a peacful future. It makes people understand that young people have voice, have ideas, have beliefs and can make a difference. The youth is the future and it is necessary to build on them. If the society does not give them a chance to express their ideas and hear their opinions then, they will loose hope and they will stop believing that chances are possible. If the young generation looses hope, then who will challenge system, who will challenge the political parties, who will challenge world ideas, who will love this world? The youth of today have realized that it is their responsibility to halt the conflict, which perpetuates from the past and that it is they who will shape their future through promising initiatives, which will set the beginning of a new era for Cyprus.
Young Facilitators who served as Coordinators
The Y2P pioneers started meeting at Oktana cafe from mid 1999 where Yiannis Laouris, and periodically the father of Daphne Anastasiades were facilitating the sessions and provided inspiration. CYBER KIDS provided logistical support in the early phases. When the young pioneers were awarded their first grant, another young person was hired to serve as Assistant Coordinator, Xenia Constantinou. The following have served as (paid) coordinators for the funded projects:
- Xenia Constantinou
- Münevver Güzoğlu
- Ugurcan Yasamsal
- Levent Kizilduman
- Nikoletta Koutsakou
- Synthia Pavlou
- Natasa Xenophontos
Of course, the major responsibilities and the organization of the many events was conducted by the young pioneers who served as volunteers. Elected by the group as presidents were:
International interns working on Y2P
Melaina Spitzer visited Y2P and participated and supported the organization of events during the last years of its operations. Brooke Galloway performed studies on Y2P contributions to peace for her MS Thesis with the Portland State University (student of Harry Anastasiou).
Table of all events
Y2P has organized over 40 events in which thousands of people have participated.
Important Contributions of Y2P
- Changed society’s attitudes
- Brought teenagers from the 2 communities together
- Showed common things two the youth, connect on common grounds – violence, crime, drugs, AIDS
- Offered an example for peace education
- Promoted principles of tolerance – through conferences, events of understanding
- The uniqueness of the members themeselves – have been good educated, took part in peace building conferences, mediation, conflict resolution etc. had an impact not only to the youth but also the entire society, political parties, decision making, democracy – raised questions, education – peace education, politics – time fo change
- Demonstrated how the youth can also work with the UN
- Their example encouraged many other organizations to fund, support and advertise Y2P ‘s events; e.g., Fulbright, cyprus youth organizations, Cyber Kids etc.