Cyprus Friendship Program (2009)

HasNa launched the Cyprus Friendship Program (CFP) as a groundbreaking, all-volunteer program in Cyprus in 2009. CFP is a friendship-building and leadership program that focuses on fostering trust and understanding through interaction between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in Cyprus. In an effort to break the cycle of fear and mistrust, CFP selects and pairs Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot teens to pursue friendships. Program activities are provided in Cyprus and the U.S. for the selected pairs. Inspired and led by former HasNa board member Warren Muir, CFP has grown immensely over the past five years since its founding in 2009.

In 2012 the success and popularity of CFP led to the creation of a new, all-volunteer non-profit organization – Cyprus Friendship Program, Inc.

Since 2009, CFP has sought to prepare Cyprus’ future leaders of a generation that has grown up in a divided society to find bi-communal solutions for living harmoniously.

Turkish-Cypriot teens from the north and Greek-Cypriot teens from the south (ages 15-17) are selected by CFP Coordinators in Cyprus and are paired together, one teen from each community. The goal is for the pairs to establish a friendship with one another that will grow and strengthen throughout the program. Maintaining these friendships is essential for realizing the full potential of CFP. Teens are required to participate in program activities, to introduce their families to one another, and to bring their friends together. It is essential that all participants are fully committed to these aims.

In the summer, the pairs of teenagers arrive for the U.S. residential portion of CFP. While in the U.S., the pairs live together with American host families for four weeks. The aim of this four-week residential segment is to promote friendship and understanding through interaction and to further develop leadership skills. This phase is reinforced by the teenagers staying in a country where many differing cultures live together in peace.

Following the teens’ return home, they stay engaged in cross-communal and intra-communal activities to promote friendship, peacebuilding, and volunteerism across the island. The families of these teens, in addition to their American host families, forge bonds that long outlive the program activities themselves. These deep connections pave the way for a bright future for all residents of the island of Cyprus.