RTCYPP Language Classes Conclude its Fourth Successful Semester
27 June 2019
RTCYPP Language Classes concluded it’s fourth successful semester and welcomed Ambassador of Sweden, Mrs Anna Olsson Vrang, who honoured the unprecedented initiative with her presence and handed certificates to the participants of the 2018-2019 term.
“The RTCYPP Language Classes are one of the most practical peacebuilding initiative and long term investment that gives me hope. I thank each one of you for being here”, Ambassador Olsson Vrang told the participants. “Learning each other’s language is a concrete way to contribute to further nurture mutual respect between the different faith communities of Cyprus and build trust through knowledge as well as interpersonal encounters.”
The Office of RTCYPP initiated the RTCYPP Language Classes in 2017 as a concrete confidence building measure with the approval, full support and blessings of the Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders of Cyprus. For the very first time clerics and laypersons from the mainline religious communities of Cyprus jointly started learning each other’s language.
Organized and hosted by the Office of RTCYPP, classes for Greek and Turkish took place weekly in adjacent rooms at the Home for Cooperation giving the participants a unique opportunity to come together to meet, interact, learn and practise each other’s languages in a friendly environment. During this time, 25 clerics, laypersons, and nuns from five faith communities endorsed by their respective religious leader, have participated in the course learning either Greek or Turkish. The joint classes and excursions offered a unique opportunity for all to practise their newly learned skills with each other, enter a positive cycle of increased understanding and trust-building through getting to know each other better, and learn about each other’s traditions and cultures more closely.
“Learning and speaking each other’s language is one of the most significant steps toward a unified peaceful coexistence in a divided island where members of the two main communities do not know and speak each other’s language”, said the Director of the Office of RTCYPP Mrs Salpy Eskidjian. “We hope that the members of faith communities learning each others language can be role models in Cyprus, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.”
The course participants thanked the Office of RTCYPP for this opportunity and the Ambassador of Sweden for all her support. All the participants echoed one another with the same heart-warming message. “We thank you for providing us with this opportunity, not only to learn each other’s language but to have built friendships on a level we did not expect. We have become a family! We do not come here only as students to learn, we come here to see our family.” The Language Classes are part of the RTCYPP #KnowYourNeighbour initiative and fully funded by the Office of RTCYPP. The current academic term there were 3 priests, 3 imams and 4 laypersons enrolled.
Joint initiatives of the RTCYPP Language Classes during 2018-2019 Term:
The participants helped the Office of RTCYPP to organise four joint excursions to different places of worship, including historic monuments like St John’s Cathedral at the Archbishopric of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Bayrakdar Mosque and the St Maroun Chapel and the newly refurbished Betmoroun socio-cultural and pastoral Centre of the Maronite Church of Cyprus. During Ramadan, the RTCYPP Language Course team were welcomed to Hala Sultan Tekke for an Iftar. Together with the Home for Cooperation, two soap-making workshops in three languages were offered to participants from across the island. Participants also enjoyed a visit to the Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) – the only bi-communal museum in Cyprus – where they were given a personal tour by its founder and Director and appreciated the Swedish Embassy’s photo exhibition “Swedish Dads”.