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Cypriot teens put aside differences in BG

first_img Cyprus FriendshipThey listen to Maroon 5, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, watch TV programs such as “Criminal Minds” and “Modern Family,” and enjoy shopping at Forever 21.The sister tastes of Aria Louis and Cagla Izkan, residents of the Republic of Cyprus in the Mediterrean Sea, provide no inkling they are children of longtime territorial enemies. However, the history books and their families’ collective war stories remind them of the literal and figurative walls that divide their people.Louis, a Greek Cypriot, is a Greek Orthodox Christian, while Izkan, a member of the Turkish Cypriot minority, is Muslim. Their relatives fought on different sides of a military conflict during the 1960s and 1970s that left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced. Travel between the two sections of the island was restricted until spring 2003.The wounds of the deadly struggle and the bad blood that followed remain fresh, the teens agreed.Today, the 17-year-olds are roommates in Battle Ground as part of the monthlong Cyprus Friendship program designed to show teens from the two Cypriot factions they have much in common even if decades of history suggests otherwise. Louis and Izkan are among 60 students participating in the program. The majority are on the East Coast.“I didn’t want to grow up hating the unknown,” Louis said when asked why she enrolled in the program. “I decided this would be a great opportunity to form my own opinions.”Louis and Izkan are learning about American food and agriculture, sustainability practices in the Portland metro area and, perhaps most important, each other’s lands and customs. Tammy Haas displays a sign she and her husband, Vern, prepared to greet two Cypriot students, one Greek and one Turkish, they are hosting this month at their Battle Ground home.last_img read more