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Tonia Maria 

Age: 15
Language: French, Arabic, Spanish, English, Moroccan, Japanese 
Favorite food: Pizza

Festival Culture 

Division - Greek and Turkey

Q1) How do you define the word “Beauty”?

The moment that I feel “Beauty” is when I’m surrounded by my favorite people, eating good food. 

Q2) What is an aspect in your counry that represents your definition of beauty?

The Beauty of my country, Cyprus, is the festival culture; being in a small community we host varieties of festivals periodically. As seen in my Beauty image, one of my favorite festivals throughout the year is Orthodox Easter. It is an event to mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ, where we have bonfires, dying of easter eggs and traditional food such as Ovelia, Tsoureki and Flaounes. It is a time where we spend time with our loved ones. The beauty image is my favorite traditional meal on Easter, Ovelia, where we roast a whole lamb. One of my favorite memories during Easter is on Saturday night when my family and I gather around to make flaounes together. I generally enjoy Orthodox Easter among all the festivals because it symbolizes the roots of the religion in Cyprus, and because I can eat good food with the people I love, which matches my definition of Beauty. The festival tradition in Cyprus is very special to me because it is always an excuse to come together with the people that I love spending time with, and I get 2 weeks off school so that's always a benefit. 

Q3) What is a challenge that your country is facing?

The biggest Challenge of Cyprus is that it still remains divided; between the north and south.  Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and since then they have been illegally occupying the north part of the island. Both Greek and Turkish people were forced out of their homes, some lost their property and people were not allowed to cross the ‘borders’ for many years. The borders are now open but hate and segregation remains, making the country separate into two. Unfortunately, I believe that even if Cyprus does manage to get united the hate and segregation will still exist, therefore there will still be ‘borders’ dividing us. The Challenge photo shows the border between the occupied and non-occupied side of Cyprus. As you can see, there isn’t a positive relationship between the Greek - Cypriot people and Turkish - Cypriot people. The situation in Cyprus makes me urry because I value relationships and connection with people; it is unfortunate to see the discrimination that is happening here at Cyprus. 

Q4) Are there things you are doing to help solve that challenge?

The youth of Cyprus are taking steps in order to create change, and to build a positive relationship between the two countries. I am also doing as much as I can in order to solve this problem; including a UN sponsored cooking workshop with people from two sides. The moments I feel beauty in life are when I’m with my favorite people, and eating good food. Therefore, through this cooking workshop, we will cook traditional food from each part to seek how we actually have more similarities than differences. When you look at the food of Cyprus, you will realize that it is a medley of Greek and Cypriot food along with any other neighboring countries. There are more things that bond us then divide us. The goal of this project is to create bonds between us and come together. The Challenge at Cyprus made me realize that there is a lot of hate in the world, and many people rather stay with the hate than to take action in order to resolve it.  However, at the same time this project has made me realize that even though we are divided by Turkish - Cypriots and Greek - Cypriots we are all Cypriots, and we all come from the same origin. 

Q5) What is your ideal world?

I wish for a peaceful world among nations and people. A world with no hate, no racism but a world connected with love and joy.

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