FORTY students aged 15 to 18 from Greece, Turkey and the two communities in Cyprus participated in the 17th Winpeace workshop on peace education, conflict resolution analysis, social entrepreneurship and communication skills which took place from July 22 to 29 at the Technical Educational Institute in Heraklion, Crete.
According to a press release, the youngsters learned how to live together and create their own community and were exposed to innovative ways of building a peace culture by resolving problems non-violently and following principals of gender equality and human rights. The workshop culminated with the design process of social entrepreneurship.
Their educators were Jennifer Sertel, trainer in conflict resolution and communication in Istanbul and Aybike Oguz, trainer in social entrepreneurship in Istanbul, Mine Atli, lawyer and peace activist, Neshe Dervish, peace activist, Maria Hadjipavlou from the University of Cyprus and activist for peace and gender equality at the Centre for Research and Action on Peace in Athens Fotini Sianou.
“This camp is a miraculous event that is – every year since 2000 – assembled by those who hope; namely professors, teachers and peace activists from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus,” a Greek student evaluating the programme said. “This camp has a purpose. It is to bring peace to the whole world. Having though understood that baby steps should be taken every time, we started from the resolution of the Cypriot issue. We had for a week a condensed program which was full of seminars concerning conflict resolution, non-violent communication, human rights, gender equality and may other aspects of what has been forgotten, all based on the principles of humanism.”
“Throughout the years, the small island of Cyprus has amassed a large history of never-ending conflict and violence. To represent Cyprus, be it northern or southern Cyprus, is to represent the entirety of a politically tense history, a divided island, and above all, an intense desire for peace. For this reason, the Winpeace camp meant much more than a week of summer activities – it encapsulated the core of the Cyprus issue and brought into the spotlight the younger generation’s desire for a world where harmony and peace prevailed,” a Cypriot student commented.
“For many of us that came from Turkey, participating in this workshop served as a constructive act of response against the polarizing forces at work in our societies and the world.” Another student added. “These forces exist deep within our inner selves and carry and reinforce deeply rooted alienating prejudices about how we perceive the `others`. By coming to Crete and interacting with our Greek and Cypriot friends throughout the peace-building activities, we stood up against the bigger forces that don’t want us to come together. But most importantly, we stood up against that judgmental inner critic we are all taught to have.”