CYPRUS – Rotary Youth Project of the Middle East
Last Friday I attended a Rotary Club meeting in Columbia, Maryland, where the guest speakers talked about a youth project in Cyprus.
The members of the Rotary Club of Olney, Maryland, were the speakers. Their club had established a project several years ago in an effort to establish peace between Muslim and Christian youth.
Cyprus is located in the Middle East, approximately 70 miles from Syria. In 1974, in a country already divided between Muslims and Christians, there was a civil war which reinforced strong feelings of hatred between these two factions.
The Rotary Club of Olney approached teenagers in Cyprus and established separate teams comprised of two adolescents each–one a Muslim and the other a Christian. Each group was made up of solely either young women or young men. The Club then invited each team to come to the United States by air and to stay with Rotary families. The many teams were separated and each team of two youths went to live with a Rotarian family for approximately one month or for two weeks with one host family and then two weeks with another host family.
Conflict Resolution— When each team arrived here, the youth were provided with information regarding mediation, peace, and leadership skills. As each team progressed, each of the members communicated with those of the other religion to have greater understanding and to develop an appreciation of the opposing youth’s needs. Some of the team members lost friends because of the strong feelings against persons of another religion.
As a result of this project, progress is being made by team members in developing good relationships with persons of the other religion.
The Rotary Club of Olney is seeking to expand this project to include other Rotary clubs who would also sponsor young Christians and Muslims in order to develop relationships that may lead to peace in Cyprus.
Fred Antenberg is a member of the Rotary Club of Columbia and supports this project to establish greater understanding between persons of different religions that may lead to World Peace. If additional information is needed, contact Thomas McCarthy, member of the Rotary Club of Olney, Maryland, at 301 774 7069 or Fred Antenberg at 410 730 4404.