by Dario Patsalos – February 6, 2019

NDCP 2018 by Dario Patsalos

Every once in a while in a person’s life comes a time when they wish that time stood still. A time where you wish that particular feeling of happiness will last forever. I can speak on behalf of all the NDCP 2018 participants to say that the three weeks we spent in Cyprus on this cultural trip were some of the best experiences of our lives.

For those who are unaware of what NDCP is, it is a trip that is planned by NEPOMAK where people with Cypriot heritage between the ages of 18 and 22 from around the world go on a cultural trip to Cyprus with the goal for them to return to their roots and learn more about their heritage with other people of similar ages from around the world. In other words, NDCP is a three-week experience that brings together Cypriots from all around the world and challenges them to have the best time of their lives.

I personally thought that meeting 36+ new people from different parts of the world, though exciting, might also be quite strange at first. However, within the first few hours you’re put into your dorms, you have gone on an interesting shopping trip, heard other peoples most embarrassing stories and are already forming bonds that we had no idea would last well beyond the trip. It was amazing to see how much we all had in common despite being us being from different parts of the world.

I leant so much about my Cypriot heritage and culture on this trip. We attended language and history classes that were really informative and fun. Who would have thought that straight after you completed learning different language groups you would be performing a zembekiko in front of your teacher and classmates? The classes were split into beginner, intermediate, and advanced so no matter what your level of understanding of the Cypriot language was, there was a class for you to go to and improve it even further. Dancing classes were also given where we learnt many traditional dances, the basic zembekiko steps and the most important lesson of all, “Always announce if you are performing choreography!”

We were lucky enough to experience the true beauty of Cyprus. Whether it be the majestic beaches with the most stunning blue waters, Petrou tou Romious’s wonder, Kykkos Monasteries aura or one of the countless beautiful churches we visited we always felt as if we were right at the center of the most incredible places on the island. The Trodos Jeep tour was one of my favourite excursions on the trip as we were able to see some of the most incredible views, eat lunch at a traditional restaurant in a village and enjoy some of the classic Greek and English songs being played by our Jeep drivers. We saw the ocean from a different point of view as we took a boat out and swam in some of the clearest and most refreshing waters. The Bouzoukia evenings were also particularly interesting as we watched Greek Dancers perform their traditional dances and some brilliant bouzouki playing in the village of Pissouri.

Possibly the best time to get to know someone was on the bus to and from places as there were so many different conversations happening, people taking photos of others sleeping or the occasional sing-off battles that would leave even the strong voiceless.

There is no denying that the nightlife in Cyprus is some of the best in the world. Whether we were going out to a club or having a night in at the dorms it was always guaranteed that we would have a good night. Whenever people were all dressed up and wanted to take photos, a photo with one or two people would almost certainly turn into an impromptu group photo. The nights out at Ammos and Guaba really stood out for me as some of the best parts of this trip.

The Toga party that we had at our dorms that ended in zembekikos and dancing in the kitchen was another highlight. Every time we were out, there was always an extra sense of excitement when the song of NDCP 2018, “Ximeromata”, was played and had everyone’s hands up and singing along as loudly as we could. We were also lucky enough to go and see a live concert in Larnaca where Antonis Remos, Elena Paparizou and Natasa Theodoridou all performed.

The three-week adventure ended with us being invited to the The 9th NEPOMAK World Conference where we met up with the NCCT participants and attended some extremely informative workshops and talks that addressed some of the main problems in Cyprus and possible suggestions on how to solve them. We were invited to the presidential palace and we were in the presence of some of the country’s most influential decision makers including President Nicos Anastasiades and Mr. Photis Photiou, Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues and Overseas Cypriots. Mr.Photoiu was very hospitable and was quite forthright as to how important the youth who were living outside of the country were to the future of Cyprus. He was also responsible for one of the best quotes from the trip, “It’s the island of love, relax.”

None of the above would have happened without three very special people. I would just like to thank our incredible advisors, Phillip Christou, Raphael Gregorian and Riana Alexandrou, without whom our experience might have been very different. They made us all feel welcome from the very start, helped us with anything that we needed and made the difficult job of balancing being our friends and when necessary our “strict” advisors look very easy. We are all extremely grateful for all that you did for us.

This was the best experience of my life and I would highly recommend that anyone who is thinking about applying to go for it! It was a once in lifetime trip with an incredible group of friends who became family. This trip created some beautiful memories that will last a lifetime and I am so glad that I experienced it. I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible for us and allowing us to have the most unforgettable experience. To my 2018 NDCP family, Θέλω να σε ξαναδώ!

By Dario Patsalos (Port Elizabeth, South Africa)
NDCP 2018