by Kyri Levendi – January 22, 2019

NCCT 2018 by Kyri Levendi

Whenever I go to Cyprus, I stay in the same city, visit the same beaches and spend most of my time visiting family. And to be honest, I thought that was all that Cyprus had to offer me. But I was wrong.

NCCT helped me to see that there’s so much more to the island that my family calls home. And that was down to the diverse itinerary of the trip.

We explored ancient sights like the Tomb of the Kings and Kourion, brushed up on our mythology at Petra tou Romiou and the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, and took part in a Cypriot cooking class, commandaria tasting and bouzoukia night.

We travelled by foot through Limassol old town, by jeep through Akamas and Troodos, and by sea to spot turtles. And we had some amazing tour guides along the way who educated us on the island, and encouraged us to see it as our own.

As part of NCCT, we also had the opportunity to take part in the 9th World Conference of Young Overseas Cypriots.This saw us learn about the issues facing Cyprus and get the chance to ask the decision-makers our questions. Looking back on my NCCT experience there were definitely some ‘pinch-me moments’. Like our driver stopping the jeep in the middle of the tour to dance with us, taking part in a stargazing session with George Danos—the President of the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation—and getting the chance to visit the Presidential Palace.

I hope I remember it all when I’m a greying yiayia. But what I’m certain I won’t forget is the people I met. Within hours of meeting everyone on NCCT, we were bonding over our shared Cypriot backgrounds and comparing notes of how we grew up. It didn’t matter that we were from opposite sides of the world or even where our parents were from in Cyprus (we had the pleasure of having a Turkish-Cypriot on our trip), they all felt like friends I’d known for years. They laughed with me, introduced me to modern Greek music and taught me how to play Tavli. And that’s why saying goodbye to them all was so hard.

But we haven’t stopped talking since we got back. In fact, as I write this my phone is buzzing with updates from our whatsapp group—it’s full of inside jokes, pictures from the trip and declarations of how we’re all missing each other.  To say that I’m grateful for my NCCT experience is an understatement. I’ve come away with a greater understanding of my heritage and a second family from all over the world.

By Kyri Levendi (Manchester, United Kingdom)
NCCT 2018