by Helena Valeria Manoussios – January 10, 2023

Meant to be, in Cyprus – NDCP 2022

I have always believed that everything that is meant to happen, will happen. Whether it is good or bad, it is meant for you so when I finally got the call to join the NEPOMAK Discover Cyprus Program 2022, I jumped at the chance. I had heard from cousins that it had the potential to change my life and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world.

The arrival on the first day was filled with awkward introductions until we all slowly weened our way out of our comfort zones, cured our nervous hunger with some pizza, and shared the best of ourselves with each other. From that first night, I didn’t want to leave anyone’s side even as I stayed up later than my jet-lagged body wanted (some call it FOMO, but I don’t believe in sleep when the company is that good).

Anyways, you can’t forget the reason that we were in Cyprus: to learn about our country. Our learning was a mixture of in-class and on-the-road: a perfect balance for the fast-paced life of NDCP. With two lovely teachers from the University of Cyprus, Mary and Vasiliki, we completed Greek language and history classes including some Cypriot basics. Following our history lessons, we were then guided around our island by Katie, our serenading tour guide, to see the treasures such as Petra tou Romiou and the Mosaics of Paphos. Our visit to the EOKA graves was the most emotional for me as we looked at the young faces that fought for our country. It suddenly meant so much more to be able to visit and learn about Cyprus with the aim to keep her stories alive for generations to come.

While our days were filled with educational adventures, our nights were filled with cultural glendis at tavernas, concerts, and many late-night chats in our dorms: the best ways to bond. Many of us tried something new like karaolous (snails), learnt to dance sousta, or even saw a Greek singer perform live for the first time. We were slowly getting closer to our culture and one another. This trip also was a great way to learn our Cypriot dialect, even if it was mostly from our advisors yelling “pamen pethkia” to get us to the coach quicker.

In the end, I had the time of my life and grasped the importance of our trip: connecting to country, culture, and community. The whole time we were traveling around we became a family who were supported by our lovely advisors, Maria and Maria (not a typo, just a lovely coincidence) who kept us in line with their Theia vibes while showing us the time of our lives. I finally have found my community; my NDCP family (and just like that, we are scattered all around the world).

With family, you endure good times and sad times and even as we slowly left the utopia of our motherland to return to our mundane lives, our time together was meant to be. I loved every second of this trip and will wish on every shooting star to take me back to that first day and live it all again.

Until the next time we meet.