[Anna Karagianopoulou]: As part of the Friends of Cyprus program, this year again, a group of children from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities came to the United States to get to know each other better and to experience American life together. During their visit to the Voice of America studio, the teens from Cyprus talked with enthusiasm but also realism about their experience, like 17-year-old Kostas Paschalidis from Limassol. [Kostas Paschalidis]: This is also the purpose of the program, to create friendships, and personally, in America, I met incredible people who gave me a lot of strength and made me understand that believing in a purpose and fighting for that purpose is the most important thing, and inevitably, you will succeed at some point. [Anna Karagianopoulou]: Similar impressions were shared by 16-year-old Xenia from Nicosia. [Xenia]: The program shows us that we can live together, we can be together, we can have friends. The fact that the other person is a Turkish Cypriot or that I am a Greek Cypriot plays no role. [Anna Karagianopoulou]: For Munise, who lives in occupied Nicosia, interacting with a Greek Cypriot peer was revelatory. [Munise]: I had no relations with Greek Cypriots before the program. We had visited the south with my family, but because we don’t speak Greek and they don’t speak Turkish, we couldn’t communicate. I began to get to know Greek Cypriots when I applied to participate in the program and started learning English. Then, I realized how similar we are and how their life is similar to ours. [Anna Karagianopoulou]: The children from Cyprus come to the United States for four weeks. They participate in conflict resolution seminars and live with a peer from the other community, hosted by American families. The development of intercultural friendships, mutual respect, and understanding, breaking the historical stereotypes and mistrust existing between the two communities in Cyprus, is a primary goal of the program. [Nikolas Michail]: We are taking a step towards exploring a solution because the more people believe that we can live together peacefully, the better. And that’s exactly what the program does. [Anna Karagianopoulou]: 15-year-old Nikolas Michail from Nicosia was the youngest of the group. He believes that his generation can bridge the differences and possibly solve the problem in Cyprus. [Nikolas Michail]: My generation is more liberal. It’s more open to meeting new people compared to the generation of our grandparents or our parents who held grudges against the other side. That’s why I believe we can become friends again. [Anna Karagianopoulou]: But Katerina from Paphos disagrees. [Katerina]: I don’t believe my generation can do it. It can help, start, contribute something to it. But change, I believe it requires the previous generation to pass, new people, and new ideas to come, and then something will happen. [Anna Karagianopoulou]: However, the Turkish Cypriot Volkan, who goes to a Greek Cypriot high school in Nicosia, sees a little light at the end of the tunnel. [Volkan]: I believe that the Turkish Cypriot community and Greek Cypriot community are harmonious societies. Unfortunately, they were pushed in two different directions and lived different experiences. It will take time for them to leave their painful experiences behind and start a new process of rapprochement. [Anna Karagianopoulou]: Returning to Cyprus, the students who participated in the program declare their determination to maintain contact and friendship with their peers from the other side whom they met here in the USA. Anna Karagianopoulou, VOA, Washington.