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.
CFP’s Alumni Survey Results
This summer, a committee of 11 CFP alumni from Cypriot, Israeli and Palestinian communities and 3 American teens created CFP’s very first alumni survey, studied its results and offered specific recommendations to CFP. The purpose of this summer-long effort was to evaluate two strategic opportunities:
- Expanding CFP’s alumni programs to broaden and deepen CFP relationships, collectively strengthening alumni voices for peace;
- Potentially extending the role of American teens in host families to reinforce the relationships between their pairs during and after their homestays and to explore more direct involvement by these American teens in the peacebuilding process.
The survey was distributed to Cypriot, Israeli and Palestinian alumni through CFP’s newsletter, Facebook page and individual communications by members of the Survey Committee and by American host families. 155 alumni responded to the survey, representing every year of the program.
Survey respondents express very strong interest in remaining connected with other CFP alumni and their host families:
- 97.4% of respondents report wanting to stay connected with their fellow alumni. Of the 2018 and 2019 participants who actively engaged with teens from a different CFP area conflict (Israel/Palestine vs. Cyprus), there was high interest in continuing those international relationships as well.
- 86.4% of respondents state they have stayed in touch with alumni from their side of the conflict in their homeland, and 76.9% report having stayed in touch with alumni from the other side
- 73.4% of respondents indicate they stay connected with their American host families.
- 52.3% of respondents indicate their parents stay in touch with other parents of the CFP community, and 44.1% of respondents state that their parents stay connected to the parents of their pair.
The alumni respondents indicate that CFP has positively influenced attitudes within their families: As a result of this committee’s efforts, CFP will more actively encourage the expansion of the Alumni Association and the scheduling of regular alumni activities in Cyprus and in Israeli-Palestinian communities. An Alumni Relations Team is being formed, and CFP’s use of social media will be expanded to facilitate alumni communications and connections. Anyone wishing to join the Alumni Relations Team should contact Becky Stirn at email@example.com.
Regarding expanding the role of American teens, alumni respondents expressed sufficient support for this strategic opportunity that it is currently being explored by the CFP Coordinating Team.
CFP again thanks the 2020 Alumni Survey Team members: Alexis Eskenazi, Sari Abu Ahmad, Hilmi Arica, Mia Bernstein, Meltsia Economou, Peter Headington, Selinay Hurse, Aroub Jaber, Ilay Lazmau, Diyar Othman, Athina Stavrou, Mike Tellalis, Ilayda Tuccaroglu, and Bar Tuchman
HasNa Peacebuilder Recognition
For the past four years HasNa, an international peacebuilding organization headquartered in Washington, DC, has selected exceptional peacebuilders to commemorate the UN’s International Day of Peace on September 21st. This year, Linda Ziglar, the Chairman of Creating Friendships for Peace (CFP), is one of seven peacebuilders (and the only American) to be selected. Committed to bridging divides, strengthening their communities, and promoting visions of a common future, HasNa’s Peacebuilders are integral parts of the societies they work to improve.
Upon receiving this commendation, Linda accepted the honor on behalf of the entire CFP team, saying, “CFP’s approach to peacebuilding is successful because it is founded on the strong commitment and cooperation of volunteers in the US and in divided communities.”
CFP shares both a vision and a peacebuilding mission with HasNa and is grateful that HasNa has followed CFP’s efforts and expansion since their initial support and collaboration in the creation of CFP’s Cyprus Friendship Program.
“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg