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.

On behalf of all us at CFP, we wish to provide the following important message in response to the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine and the surrounding region: 

Creating Friendships for Peace (CFP) joins with those who call for an end to the violence as we watch with breaking hearts the tragic events unfolding in Israel and Palestine. Our American host families are reaching out to their teens in the region for news of their safety.  

The cross-community teen friendships at the center of CFP’s mission foster relationships and dialogue. Amid escalating violence, these bonds become more important than ever. 

CFP leaders are also communicating with our colleagues in the region. We are confirming their safety and to assure them of CFP’s commitment to continue the difficult work of conflict resolution at the grassroots level.  Despite all the violence, the moral imperative of peacebuilding through friendships remains crucial and urgent. 

CFP will continue providing essential support for communication and compassion in all regions we serve impacted by the heartbreaking devastation and loss of life and property.

We ask that you keep those affected in your hearts as we yearn for a ceasefire soon.  


 

Latest News

In Memory of Norman Houston OBE

CFP mourns the loss of a great champion of peace and reconciliation, Norman Houston, who died suddenly on January 12th, 2021, aged 62. Norman was the Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC – the Belfast government’s top diplomat to the United States and Canada – from 2007 to 2019, and served as Deputy Director at the time of the 1990s peace negotiations and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Northern Ireland could not have had a better representative, or a harder working one than Norman. For all of us in North America he came to symbolize the new Northern Ireland – a place no longer of conflict but of great energy, creativity and opportunity. 

Always recognizing the vital importance of empowering young people, Norman was a strong supporter and, in the early 2000s, a board member of CFP’s original organization, the Children’s Friendship Project for Northern Ireland. Drawing on his extensive range of connections, he enriched CFPNI’s youth leadership program, and helped CFPNI secure access to much needed funding. In 2019 Norman received the Order of the British Empire from the Queen, in recognition of his valuable contribution to public service. He made a difference to the lives of many people, and will be sorely missed. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, especially his children Chloe and Connor.

Current CFP Board member and fellow Northern Irishman John McKinney shares: ‘Norman was the person who willingly and unfailingly used his extensive network to open influential doors in Washington for anyone visiting on a mission from NI. His manner was gracious and gentle and made strangers feel friends as soon as he met them. I was fortunate to avail of his generosity of time and access to his network in the political and business community during many visits to Washington both pre and post the Good Friday agreement.  Nothing was too much trouble – “ how can I help you?” was his approach every time. Thank you, Norman, may you Rest in Peace.’
John McKinney M.Sc. OBE.

2021 Pilot Program for American Teens

CFP host families with teenagers have the added dimension of friendships among the CFP teen pairs and the American teens.  CFP will conduct a pilot program to enhance the role and ability of host family teens’ to contribute to the peacebuilding process. This innovative project, limited to 20 participants, will launch in the Spring of 2021 as a no-fee, nine-session online seminar. Participants will have unique resume building opportunities to:

  • Study peacebuilding with renowned professionals.
  • Add an international experience in their lives to carry forward into their studies and even career.
  • Meet Israeli/Palestinian and Cypriot alumni as well as teens from other parts of the U.S.
  • Earn a certificate for future academic applications

These are some of the timely international peacebuilding topics that will be covered:

  • Human biology:  Is conflict a natural human condition?
  • Active listening and nonviolent communication
  • Strategies, approaches, and practices that work to resolve conflict
  • First-hand perspectives on the Cyprus and the Israel/Palestine conflicts
  • How to create opportunities for acceptance, respect, compassion and inclusion 

CFP is very enthusiastic about creating and offering this opportunity via Zoom to high school students who want to make a significant difference in the world through peacebuilding on a one-to-one basis.  Here are the guidelines for applications:

  • Application dates:  December 15th to January 24
  • Acceptance notifications:  January 31.  
  • Students applying must write a short paragraph describing why they are applying and what they hope to achieve through their participation.  

Two types of certificates will be given to participants completing the seminar: Certificate of  Participation (6-7 sessions) and Certificate of Completion (8-9 sessions).  For more information, contact BeckyS@friendships4peace.org or BoD@friendships4peace.org.

Shared Learning Project in Israel

We are pleased to announce that CFP is in discussions with the Center for Educational Technology (CET),  an Israeli non-profit organization, dedicated to the advancement of the education system in Israel and around the globe. In its forty years of activity, CET has invested significant resources in carrying out its social mission, and has established its expertise and reputation as a content developer, introducer of advanced technologies and the leader of next generation learning.

CET aims to promote achievement and academic excellence and to create equal opportunities for all Israeli children.  Their EU funded Shared Learning program is an education approach that promotes partnerships between Jewish and Arab schools in a common geographic area, with the goal of instigating change for a future shared society.  Students from partnered schools attend bi-communal classes taught in English.  CFP is seen as a natural partner for strengthening relationships begun in the classroom between and among the Jewish, Palestinian, Bedouin and Druze high school students in the Israeli school system.

https://www.together.cet.ac.il/en/homepage/

Israel/Jordan Project Update

The CFP project designed to bring together teens from Eilat, Israel and Aqaba, Jordan has been designed as a two year program.  In the first year, teens from both communities will attend a two or three week camp in Cyprus.  In the second year, the same teens will pair — one from each municipality — and live with an American host family for the month of July.  During that month, there will be several group workshops and activities weekly.
  While the pandemic has delayed the start of this project, CFP is using this time to develop Eilat’s sister city of Los Angeles as a hosting area.  Anyone living in the LA area who would like to help in this effort should contact: info@friendships4peace.org

2021 Virtual Program in Cyprus

This summer’s program will be organized primarily by the Cypriot Coordinators and will be held in Cyprus.  With the hope of vaccines and a return to normalcy, plans are being made for a virtual selection process and workshops and camp in-person.  Information will be shared as it becomes available.
Applications:  February 15  April 30, 2021
Year 1 Applicants:  a limited number will be selected following online interviews
Year 2 Applicants:  all those participating in last summer’s virtual camp are eligible and will be accepted without interviews