Ilenia Pappalardo

Primary Photo

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?

I live in Cyprus, where a physical/social/economic/political/linguistic and sometimes, cultural division between the communities of Cyprus, located north and south of the Buffer Zone, exists. In my work, I use culture, education, and economic initiatives to try to demolish that wall brick by brick. Education gifts us with critical thinking, keeps us away from the danger of brainwashing and passivity, and makes us curious, thus pushing us to discover new worlds made of different and beautiful people. Culture knows no language. Anybody could feel connected to each other by a piece of music, a painting, a dance. The economy has the dangerous power to separate people and create social differences with all its negative effects. Try to imagine what a country would look like if instead of investing in weapons, it invested in job creation, access to education and health for all to mention only some.

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

When I saw kids from the divided Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities meeting up for the first time and at the end of the day, hearing them saying that "we are not so different from each other after all".

How and why did you start working in peace education?

I have always wanted to do something useful, something that would make my only life on Earth worth something, and as such, I also cared about people living their one life in the best way possible. It all started during my first experiences living and working abroad when I learnt that often people are appreciated solely for the way they are portrayed in their passports, even in cases that the portrayal doesn’t represent them or in situations in which they feel the need to hide their ethnic background to be accepted. This problem experienced by many people worldwide, due to a variety of reasons, has encouraged me to focus on issues of identity and memory within multi-ethnic societies.