- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Open University of Cyprus
What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?
I work to help create a world in the way that I envision it. In my mind that is a better world than what we are currently experiencing in our global neighborhood. I work to promote a culture of peace in Cyprus, my divided homeland, by bringing people in contact across the island's buffer zone. I use peace education activities in non-formal education settings for students and young people to meet and engage with each other. I write tri-lingual context specific children's books to promote the idea of contact with people from the other community. I work with immigrant and refugee students, teaching them at school and at Sistema-Cyprus, a non-profit that strives to offer a better opportunity to students of such background through music education. Overall, I believe that access to good education contributes to the reduction of poverty, the increase of opportunity for a better quality of life and the strengthening of a civil society that lays the foundation for the creation of peaceful democracies.
What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?
I relive this moment every time I see children smiling after having made new friends from the other community. Every moment I see children being released from prejudice about the "other" and deconstruct the "enemy" construct, is my most noteworthy moment.
How and why did you start working in peace education?
My life experiences were undisputedly the principal origins of my academic investigative curiosity and concerns. Growing up on a divided island in an ongoing conflict between Cyprus and Turkey, I was taught through means of formal and non-formal education that on the other side of the cease-fire line lived my “enemies”. My views were challenged at age sixteen when I met some of my supposed enemies at Seeds of Peace international camp in Maine, USA. During our very first deliberation session, the Greek Cypriots’ cries about the 1974 Turkish invasion were met with the Turkish Cypriots’ confusion, who replied, “you mean 1974 happy peace day operation”. It was certainly not an epiphany, but merely a moment of realization that the educational system of each side had already assimilated all of us into our respective community’s collective narrative that presented the good “us” victimized by the bad “other”. This experience has since guided my life through years of education and activism in social movements for peace.