About Us

Creating Friendships for Peace, Inc. is a volunteer grassroots organization whose mission is to promote and strengthen friendships between teens from divided communities and extend those friendships to their families and friends.  The friendships are developed through home stays with American families.  Each family hosts two teens – one from each side of a conflict.  The teen pair shares a bedroom and learns about each other, understanding their different perspectives and realizing that friendships can develop despite significant political and cultural differences.  With friendship, an atmosphere is created that allows for mutual respect and understanding – a key ingredient for peace.

CFP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in the United States.  Our volunteers were active in Northern Ireland from 1987 until 2007.  We are currently active in Cyprus since 2009 and Israel/Palestine since 2018.

In our efforts to maintain neutrality, we do not accept government funding and rely solely on gifts from individuals, charitable foundations and businesses who wish to make a difference for peace in the world.

Latest News

Alexis Eskenazi, U.S. Teen Liaison

CFP Team Continues to Grow

Alexis Eskenazi, U.S. Teen Liaison

Alexis lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a junior at Castilleja School.  Alexis and her family hosted an Israeli-Palestinian pair of teens with CFP in 2019. The following summer, she helped lead a team of CFP alumni, administrators, and US teen volunteers to develop CFP’s first alumni survey, which explored strategic initiatives under consideration by CFP. Alexis aided in interpreting the survey results, which led to the development of CFP’s 2021 Pilot Peacebuilding Seminar for US teens held in spring and to new alumni initiatives and programs held in summer. She also participated in the US pilot seminar, graduating with a Certificate of Excellence. In her ongoing role, she will collaborate with CFP leadership and alumni from the US, Cyprus, and Israel-Palestine to enhance the long-lasting bonds of friendship among alumni.  This includes the possible expansion of the role of US teen hosts and could help to open new hosting areas to accommodate the increasing international interest in CFP’s peacebuilding program.

CFP Clubs for High School Students

CFP Clubs for High School Students

One of the unexpected successes of the US Teen Pilot Program was the participants’ interest in continuing to learn and hone the skills of managing difficult conversations and minimizing conflict.  They stated that high schools do not teach these skills as a rule and that these skills are needed.  One idea for meeting this need was to establish CFP clubs.

Betsy Small and I recently hosted a kick-off, inaugural meeting with five local NH high school students who attended the US Teen Pilot Program and a representative of their high school.  The students enjoyed sharing information and ideas with  CFP alumna Elpida Constantinou and a visiting German exchange student. Everyone was able to brainstorm about global peace perspectives and how the proposed club can begin and fit into the academic fabric of their high school. The local high school students are excited about the future of the club and plan on the meeting by early September to take steps into making the club a reality. 

In the meantime, CFP leadership is creating a structure and standard curriculum to ensure that CFP clubs will further CFP’s mission and goals.  Once the concept is fully developed, it will be shared with other high schools in CFP hosting areas.

Bo Dean
NH Area Coordinator

CFP Teen Program

US Teen Pilot Program Successes

Following up on CFP’s 2020 alumni survey, CFP investigated two strategic initiatives in 2021.
 
The first initiative is to consider broadening the role US teens play in hosting CFP pairs of students from areas of conflict. Part of that expanded role would be including US teens in strengthening their peacebuilding skills. To assess this opportunity, CFP launched the 2021 Pilot Peacebuilding Seminar for US Teens in the spring. With a limit of 20 teens in this pilot, CFP successfully recruited teens from California, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and Virginia. 
 
The nine-session pilot involved renowned thought leaders in conflict resolution; historical perspectives on the conflicts in Cyprus, Israel, and Palestine; communication skills; active listening; and free vs. responsible speech, to name only a few of the topics. Experts in these fields volunteered their time and included:
  • Dr. Fred Luskin;
  • Dr. Shani Robbins;
  • Rhonda Gassow,
  • JD/mediator;
  • Dr. Eleftheros Michael;
  • Dr. Warren Muir, founder and former Executive Director of Cyprus Friendship Program and former ED of the Children’s Friendship Program, Northern Ireland;
  • Gordon Atkinson, JD; andCFP alumni from the areas of conflict we serve.
During the final session, the US teens presented what they learned to members of CFP leadership as well as the Board of Directors. 
Due to their very engaged participation and willingness to attend 8-9 of the 9-session program, all teen participants graduated with Certificates of Excellence. They were asked to complete surveys assessing the value and quality of the pilot program. Given the very positive survey results and the potential for US teen hosts to help keep alumni connected throughout their lives, CFP’s leadership team is assessing opportunities to carry forward this training of US teens.
 
The second strategic initiative explored was how to strengthen even further the bonds of friendship created between opposing sides of each conflict. As a result, the Cyprus Friendship Programme Alumni Association hosted its first virtual post-program educational event in August, which is reported above.

Becky Stirn
Alumni Relations Coordinator
CFP in Middle East

CFP in the Middle East

The violence which occurred in Israel and Palestine in early May followed weeks of rising tensions in Jerusalem. At the outbreak of the violence, CFP reached out to our Israeli and Palestinian alumni to ensure that they and their families were safe and were relieved to learn that they were.  In turn, they were encouraged to know that we are there for them. Several months have passed since the cease-fire of 21 May and unfortunately, the tensions and uncertainties remain across the region.  These present challenges in our efforts to establish the programs we had initiated. Yet these challenges will not stop our efforts; grassroots people-to-people programs are needed now as much as ever!

In 1998 the Omagh bombing, the deadliest single incident of the troubles in Northern Ireland, occurred when CFPNI’s (predecessor to CFP) summer U.S. residential was coming to a close and the youth were to return home soon. There were fears, uncertainties, and much discussion on how CFPNI would move forward in the face of that darkness. Fortunately, the decision was unanimous that the program would continue, with even greater intent, and not be modified or deterred by the violence perpetuated by a few.

With this history in CFP’s resolve, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to pursuing our plans for programs in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. Throughout our efforts to move forward, we will remain steadfast in our support for our alumni and their families in Israel and Palestine.

Tamera Drozd
Middle East Program Coordinator

Cypret Alumni Assoc

Cypriot Alumni Association

On the 11th of August 2021, CFP hosted its very first Virtual Alumni Academic Event.
 
The event consisted of a variety of speakers. Professor Neophytos Loizides presented “Displaced Persons and Users of Properties in Cyprus: Settlement Scenarios and the Future of a Peace Referendum” and Dr. George Kyris discussed “Recognition, Efforts of International Organizations and the Opportunities Existing Within Civil Society.” Our own Alumni members Meltsia Economou made a presentation on “Ledra Palace: A Point of Reference” and Selinay Hürses hosted the event and prearranged the lecturers. Through this event, CFP Alumni across Cyprus had the chance to reconnect with their CFP roots, their pairs and friends from different graduating years.
 
The event flowed nicely with the input of CFP Alumni, and members even had the chance to form new personal connections through private breakout rooms.  Provided all goes well with the current pandemic, the CFP Alumni Association hopes to host future events in person.
 
We would also like to thank Jesse Sondheimer for the event’s tech support, Simge Kahvecioglu Zekican, CFP’s Head Coordinator, for distributing the invites to all Cypriot alumni, Maria Asvesta for supporting this initiative, and all the CFP Alumni Association’s Volunteers.
 
We hope to see everyone at the next CFP Alumni Association event and send thanks to everyone who joined and helped organize and prepare the event.
 
Feel free to contact us if you would like the recorded version of the event.
 
Selinay Hürses
selinay.hurses@outlook.com
 
Meltsia Economou
meltsiaeconomou@gmail.com