Francesca Fragkoudi

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Affiliated Organizations

What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?

The island of Cyprus is in a post-conflict state, with its two main ethnic communities, the Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots living physically separated for over 45 years. To increase interaction and break down barriers between the two communities, we implement the "Columba-Hypatia: Astronomy for Peace" project, in which we use astronomy as a tool to promote a sense of global citizenship and a culture of Peace and Non-Violence. The global and humbling perspective that astronomy imparts us with, the fact that we are all "under the same sky", as well as the interest of the general public and students in the cosmos, make astronomy an effective tool in pursuing peace. The experiences and relationships established through our work keeps me going: seeing children respond and be amazed by the wonders of the Universe, as well as the blossoming of friendships between children from the two communities makes it all worthwhile.

What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?

The most striking part of my work is seeing just how easily barriers can be brought down when children are given the opportunity to meet and interact with children from the "other" community.

How and why did you start working in peace education?

I saw how powerful astronomy was at bringing people together when carrying out astronomy outreach activities in countries around the world, and realised that it is a great tool for bringing together people from divided communities. Plus I wanted to do something for my island and to give children the opportunity to meet kids from the "other" community, something that our generation was denied.