Category Archives: culture

Opening a digital Window to the History of Cyprus

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This article was first published on page 16 of The Cyprus Weekly (8 February 2013).

Allow me to start with a few questions: What is the relationship between medieval Cyprus and media? How can centuries-old historical artefacts be brought to life by modern technology? Can a creative interpretation of cultural heritage help cultivate a vision of a common future in Cyprus? At a small gathering at the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) on Saturday 26 January, celebrating over two year’s work on, the Cyprus Artefacts Treasure (CAT) media education project , the answers were clear in our minds.

A little bit of background to start with. In October 2011, and under the auspices of the International Children’s Film Festival of Cyprus, or ICFFCY for short, the participants in CAT 1 got together in a group comprised of 20 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot children from Paphos and Famagusta as well as 10 adults. What we wanted was to respond to the Brussels Declaration, adopted in January 2011 under the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, which called for, amongst others, the development and promotion of “pedagogies adapted to each audience, to all ages of life, to varying social and cultural backgrounds”. And what better way to learn about the creative use of media than through the lens of history and culture!

There is often criticism of so-called ‘bicommunal’ projects for not affecting significant changes, but we beg to differ. Because we knew what we wanted to do! Our bicommunal group of eager young Cypriots and enthusiastic educators met regularly over a period of 6 months during the CAT 1 and worked on 5 animation films which illustrated each in its own unique way, a little bit of Cypriot artefacts from the Ayia Irini collection. All of a sudden through the eyes of the children emerged a blend of creativity and history that brought to life a world long forgotten, consigned for the most part to history textbooks, encyclopaedias, and dusty museum displays. In that time we also published two educational booklets about Cypriot artefacts prepared jointly by ICFFCY and the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR).

The excitement got the better of us! In May 2012 we launched the CAT 2 with the aim of building on the success of CAT 1, and to strengthen the bonds between our two partners, the Famagusta Cultural Association and Paphos Antamosis organisation. We realised that culture and media really could be used as a vehicle for promoting a shared understanding of both past and present, for promoting trust and dialogue, and for nurturing reconciliation. This time we were focusing on medieval Cypriot artefacts.

We traversed the island visiting medieval archaeological, from St Hilarion all the way to Paphos Castle. The work was not always easy of course – there is the issue of language that we had work with, and the very obvious impact of the division of the island. But where there is a will, there is a way. And our group leaders and volunteers worked tirelessly, with a smile on their face and with tremendous energy to keep the momentum of CAT going. In the process we managed to involve not only the children but also their parents, with people experiencing the ‘other’s’ reality, which was an equally rewarding experience.

Whether there will be a CAT 3 remains to be seen. But if there are parents and teachers out there who would like to become involved with our work, or would just like to find out more information about CAT, please visit our website http://www.icffcy-cat.com.

The CAT was supported by the Bicommunal Support Programme of the US Embassy in Cyprus and organised by ICFFCY in collaboration with Mağusa Kültür Derneği in Famagusta and Antamosis in Paphos.

EC Active Ageing Photo and Film Competition Winners Announced

The winning photo "Ageless Joy" by Salih Bahceci

The winning photo “Ageless Joy” by Salih Bahceci

C3A, the Cyprus Third Age Association was one of the winners of the 2012 DigiMe digital photo and video competition, sponsored by the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus and taking as its theme the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. C3A received an honourable mention – and a 100 euro voucher for electronic gadgets – for a series of photographs showing the group’s educational activities which, as the judges said, illustrated vividly Active Ageing in Action.

The overall winner in the photo category was “Ageless Joy”, taken by Salih Bahçeci, a student of digital media at London Metropolitan University, while the short clip “An ordinary life of my grandparents” by Andreas Psaltis, a final year pupil at the Grammar School, Nicosia, won the video prize. The two category winners each received an iPad.

There were also honourable mentions for Elly Rousou for the photo entitled ‘Youth has no Age’, and for Yetin Arslan with ‘Fairy-tale Cycle’.

EllyRousou received an honourable mention for "Youth Has No Age"

EllyRousou received an honourable mention for “Youth Has No Age”

Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony held at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia’s Buffer Zone, the Head of Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus George Markopouliotis said:

“This is the second year of the DigiMe digital video and photo competition. We at the Representation are happy to support this online event and we do hope that it will carry on with the same success for a few more years to come. Our intention was to to raise awareness of the contribution that older people make to society and I think that the entries to the competition do this quite admirably. It is also clear that these issues, like the environment and climate change in last year’s competition, are obviously of concern to all communities in Cyprus – two-thirds of this year’s entries come from Greek Cypriots and approximately one-third from the Turkish Cypriot community.”

Entries in the DigiMe competition are not judged on artistic merit alone but also on relevance and, crucially, on the impact they have online. This impact, the buzz, which this year’s entries have generated, has been considerable. There were more than 100 entries in all which attracted nearly 3,000 votes on the DigiMe website, more than 2,000 YouTube views and nearly 4,000 likes and comments on Facebook.

The DigiMe competition is managed on behalf of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus by the NGO Support Centre and the Cyprus Community Media Centre.

You can see all the entries at the DigiMe website: http://www.digime.org.cy

ENGAGE on the Move promotes peace-building at Kontea Village

kontea-visitors at the ruins of the catholic church - by David Hands

Text from a press release issued by the ENGAGE – Do Your Part for Peace project, implemented jointly by the NGO Support Centre and the Management Centre (12 December 2012):

On Saturday the 8th of December 2012, the ENGAGE team of volunteers and practitioners joined locals and guests at Kontea village in the northern part of Cyprus. The excursion was part of the ENGAGE on the Move campaign, whose aim is to involve the public residing in remote and rural areas in the peace-building process.  ENGAGE on the Move took place in the context of a festive ceremony organised to commemorate the opening of the Auxiliary Buildings Courtyard which was part of the second phase of a unique project that includes elements of the rescue and preservation of an important historical site on the outskirts of the village.

The ENGAGE team attended the bi-communal event to inform the public about various peace and reconciliation issues between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, Cyprus’ Civil Society character and the importance of Active Citizenship and volunteerism. The team also encouraged and inspired those present to voice their opinions on these matters.

The Opening Ceremony was inaugurated by US Ambassador to Cyprus H.E. Mr. John M. Koenig who stated that the Kontea locals and restoration team had gone above and beyond USAID’s expectations and emphasised his hope that the work being done at the village would prove to be a valuable reconciliation example that could be used in the near future.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Charalambos Pericleous, president of the Kontea Heritage Foundation stated that when the project first started, the courtyard as well as the relationship between the two communities was ‘in ruins’, but once the restoration process began ‘step by step, stone by stone, trust was rebuilt’.

Mr Selcan Akyel, representative of the Union of the Chambers of Cyprus Turkish Engineers and Architects, who was directly involved in the restoration process, also welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of bi-communal cooperation to preserve historical heritage landmarks stating that ‘by working together for projects like these, we can show the general public that we can work together for peace’.

For some, the festival offered a unique opportunity to visit the beautiful village for the first time and for others it was a chance to reminisce and share childhood memories. The event proved to be a great success with over 500 active participants who enjoyed authentic Cypriot cuisine and folk music as well as traditional dances by the bi-communal dance ensemble ‘Dance for Peace’.  Younger visitors had the opportunity to work with local artist Sevcan Cerkez to create clay handprints that will be used in the creation of a sculpture to be unveiled at the ENGAGE closing ceremony in July 2013.

Get in the Zone!

“I don’t get the concept”, said Nikolas, one of the many who attended yesterday’s launch of Nicosia’s (second round) bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2017. Nikolas is a car designer. And perhaps for someone with a talent in linear design, the abandoned graffitied house, the loose soil under his feet, and the projection on one of Nicosia’s many dividing walls, was not the style of launch he would have expected.

But that was is what is refreshing about Nicosia’s 2017 bid. It’s not hiding from Nicosia’s delapidation. It’s not turning away from walls, from barbed wire, from its image as a capital city which boasts the last buffer zone in Europe. Instead it is embracing reality, and asking people to come up with their own concepts. Residents of Nicosia will have the chance to transform their city into a capital city that accepts itself, can make fun of itself, but ultimately wants to change for the better.

Credit goes the new Mayor of Nicosia Constantinos Yorkadjis. Donning a FUTURE ZONE t-shirt and sporting a comfortable looking pair of jeans and white trainers, Mr Yorkadjis broke the mould of hotel function halls, high heels, and powerpoint presentations. He and his team attracted a melting pot of ages, backgrounds and ethnicities, a true reflection of the colourful logo of Nicosia’s 2017 bid.

But what’s the catch? TIME! A month to be exact! For Nicosia to be successful in its bid for capital of culture it will need the participation of those who care about the city. Us. You. Them. You name them, they can participate. So don’t waste any time and log onto their website – http://www.nicosia2017.eu/index.php/en/creative-zone/brief – and send through your ideas and vision for the future.

CCMC believes in the vision they have set out, and we think that our network of organisations which transcends the city’s divide can have a major role to play in making this a truly inclusive next four years in the run-up to 2017.

So get in the Zone people!

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