Twin Solitudes:
Separation, Transformative Education, and Reunification of Post-Colonial Cyprus
Rey Ty
anonymous formative and summative mixed-method evaluation results regarding the impact of
the NIU peace education on the p...
Prospects for transformative learning are plentiful. The International Training Office of
Northern Illinois University (NI...
together, people of different communities learn more about each other’s cultures by which they
build a truly intercultural...
prejudice. They engaged in multiple voluntary community work. Through their activity-based
learning, the participants had ...
developed as a result of this result, this research contributes to existing knowledge: it shares the
findings regarding th...
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Rey Ty. (2007). Twin Solitudes: Separation, Transformative Education, and Reunification of Postcolonial Cyprus.


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Rey Ty. (2007). Twin Solitudes: Separation, Transformative Education, and Reunification of Postcolonial Cyprus.

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Rey Ty. (2007). Twin Solitudes: Separation, Transformative Education, and Reunification of Postcolonial Cyprus.

  1. 1. Twin Solitudes: Separation, Transformative Education, and Reunification of Post-Colonial Cyprus Rey Ty Abstract Post-colonial Cyprus is a divided country with one nation branched out into two major distinct ethnic groups: the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots who share a long common domestic history, yet they have their different languages, religions, and external relations. Aside from having a proper noun, Cyprus is neither a de jure nor a de facto unified political entity. Using critical theory as the research paradigm, this qualitative research contends that transformational learning, which promotes communication, social justice, and social action, is pivotal to social change. This research demonstrates that popular community education, which builds sustainable communities through social capital, advances durable inter-ethnic dialogue and collaborative action. The outcome is conflict resolution and durable peace—one person and one activity at a time. Introduction Research Problem Pre-colonial Cyprus was the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, where people of Turkish and Greek heritage lived in harmony. But post-colonial Cyprus is a land of conflict. Britain colonized Cyprus from 1878 to 1960, after which Cyprus became a Commonwealth republic. Colonial and early post-colonial Cyprus was composed of people in two communities who politically cohabited with each other, but not without difficulties. However, because of political differences, the “Green Line” separates Muslim Turkish Cypriots from Orthodox Greek Cypriots since 1974. The Turkish Cypriots live in the North for the most part; and, the Greek Cypriots, in the South. Since May 1, 2004, Cyprus is a member of the European Union, though the island is still politically split into two legal entities (Ker-Lindsay, 2005). Thus historically, the relationship between the Northern Turkish Cypriot community and the Southern Greek Cypriot community in post-colonial Cyprus is like a pendulum swing, flip- flopping between harmony, political struggle, and outright armed hostilities. Research Questions This research raises the following questions: 1. How did the current socio-political situation develop in Cyprus? 2. How can popular community education promote the social transformation of Cyprus? 3. To what extent can transformative learning have a sustainable impact on the future socio-political situation of post-colonial Cyprus? Methods This paper is a qualitative case study of a training program for promoting bi-communal dialogue for Cyprus conducted in 2006 at Northern Illinois University. The data were gathered through participant observation, Freireian critical reflection (1970), historical analysis, email exchanges, as well as the document analysis of program-related archival materials, such as
  2. 2. anonymous formative and summative mixed-method evaluation results regarding the impact of the NIU peace education on the participants’ personal and social transformative learning. The emerging themes provided the inputs for the generation of a grounded model of good practices in popular education as an agent for social transformation. Findings Separation: Current Socio-Political Situation in Post-Colonial Cyprus While Cyprus is the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, after Cyprus won its war of resistance against British colonial rule in the early 1960s, post-colonial Cyprus has become a land where there is hostility and violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots since December 1963 (Hitchens, 1997). The Greek Archbishop Makarios campaigned for Cyprus to merge with Greece, which prompted the BOKA guerrilla force to attack the British and in the process exiled Makarios. While the Cypriot Constitution provided for power-sharing between the two communities, but it was unworkable and fighting broke out. United Nations (UN) troops deployed in 1964 did not stop inter-communal violence (Plumer, 2003; Richmond, 1998; Richmond & Ker-Lindsay, 2001). UN troops patrolled the “Green Line” that divides the island into two. With the downfall of Makarios in 1974, Turkey militarily intervened and invaded northern Cyprus, after which the Turkish Cypriots controlled about one third of the island. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots unilaterally declared their territory as the independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which only Turkey recognized (Brewin, 2000). Turkey deployed over 30,000 troops there. Today, Turkish Cypriots live in the northern third of the island and the Greek Cypriots in the southern two-thirds. Due to the prospect of Cyprus becoming a member of the European Union, negotiations sponsored by the UN were conducted in 2002 and a peace proposal was discussed (Tocci, 2004). However, hopes were dashed because the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders did not reach an agreement on the U.N. plan by the March 2003 deadline (Palley, 2005). Thereafter, however, travel restrictions eased. For the first time in thirty years, people are crossing borders and contacts between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have been reestablished. Once again, there is hope for improvement of bi- communal relations. Given that EU entry was imminent, a revised UN reunification plan was presented in two referendums in the two communities in April 2004. The plan failed because although the Turkish Cypriots approved it, the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots rejected it. Cyprus remained split, as it joined the EU on May 1, 2004 (Hannay, 2005). In December 2004, Turkey agreed to recognize Cyprus as an EU member before the accession talks for Turkey was scheduled for October 2005. In May 2005, U.N. and Greek Cypriot officials started exploratory talks on prospects for new diplomatic peace efforts (Ker-Lindsay, 2005). By June 2005, Parliament ratified the proposed EU Constitution. Because of political conflicts for the past four decades, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots do not talk to each other. They live literally along ethnic lines, with the Green Line demarcating the borders between the two communities. At times, they end up in diplomatic impasse or armed hostilities. Greek Cypriots turn to Greece for all types of support; and, Turkish Cypriots, to Turkey. Verily, Cyprus is composed of twin solitudes. Conflict has not completely ended (Papadakis, 2005), as a result of which, the search for peace continues (Anastasiou, 2006). Popular Community Education and Social Transformation
  3. 3. Prospects for transformative learning are plentiful. The International Training Office of Northern Illinois University (NIU) acts as a catalyst for social change. The objectives of the bi- communal peace education program are to offer a workshop that will provide Cypriots with the opportunity to meet and interact with their respective peers from each side of the island and to provide a multi-cultural and intercultural perspective to the students and an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of American cultures. By serving culturally diverse populations (Ross-Gordon, Martin & Briscoe, 1990 and by making space (Sheared & Sissel, 2001) to both communities, NIU provided a culturally relevant popular community education (Talmadge, 1999) to the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. During the conduct of the program, students were introduced to the fundamentals of conflict management and learned leadership skills through in- door and out-door challenges, bi-communal dialogue and community work. In terms of substance, the training program used a comprehensive framework that wove together and unified the training content. It exposed the participants to both pro-active and reactive methods of bi- communal dialogue and conflict resolution. See the concept map below. Figure 1: Grounded Framework for Inter-Cultural Dialogue & Conflict Resolution The pro-active method is associated with involvement in different levels of working together in order to build a truly bi-communal community and to develop skills in conflict management. The reactive method linked with how to manage existing conflicts. As far as pro-active methods of bi-communal dialogue and conflict resolution were concerned, the participants were exposed to (1) the anti-reactionary model, (2) traditional or minimalist model, (3) coalition model, and (4) social transformation model. The aims of the anti-reactionary model were: not to condescend or disrespect other people’s differences, cultures or religions; not to self-righteously criticize other people’s religion and/or convert them to one’s faith; and, be blind to discrimination of any kind and not do anything about it. The aim of the traditional or minimalist model was to encourage people of one community to learn about people of other communities by “talking” about the issues, reading books or listening to audio books; inviting speakers; giving lectures; attending lectures; and, watching a documentary film or a movie. The aim of the coalition model was not just “talking” but “doing” things to encourage people of one community to learn about people of other communities, by working side by side with people of different cultures and faith traditions to promote positive social change through voluntary community service efforts. By working
  4. 4. together, people of different communities learn more about each other’s cultures by which they build a truly intercultural or interfaith community. Participants in the community model formed friendship and trust which enabled them to understand more deeply each other’s differences, similarities, cultures, and faiths. The aims of the social transformation model was to encourage people of different communities to come together as one group; empathize with and work to help downtrodden social classes or marginalized groups for social transformation through various direct and indirect services. Hence, they cross the imaginary line and interact with one another. Moreover, the participants were exposed to different modes of reactive methods of interpersonal and social conflict resolution, both formal and informal. Informal modes of personal and interpersonal conflict resolution include dialogue, forgiveness, meditation for peace, and community mediation. The participants conducted dialogues and meetings using parliamentary procedures, building consensus, and writing declarations and resolutions. Community learners were exposed to these pro-active and reactive conflict resolution strategies through meaningful, fun, and sometimes formal indoor and outdoor activities. Reunification: Sustainable Impact of Popular Community Education on the Future of Cyprus There is a wide range of peace education programs: psychologically-based conflict resolution, social conflict resolution, interpersonal mediation, interfaith dialogue, inter-ethnic dialogue, diversity and multiculturalism workshops, human rights training, social justice work, and social-change-oriented community development. NIU’s peace program for Cyprus is a combination of the above approaches, leaning towards action for social justice and durable peace. By attending the NIU peace program, they were able to accumulate social capital (Coleman, 1990). Specifically, they gained new warm-body friends from the other community; share common knowledge, understanding and values; joined an informal group, including an online social networking group—Yahoo group; regularly interact with one another physically and electronically through all types of communication networking; engage in civic work; and help each other. They continue to communicate regularly through the electronic social networking group as well as to organize meetings in both the North and in the South. Indeed, with the social capital they have accumulated, they have consolidated building a community of communities. Abstract political enemies become concrete close friends. See illustration below. Ty, 2007 Figure 2: Social Capital The participants were satisfied with the way by which the peace program was creatively implemented, especially as it involved the active participation of the co-learners. Before coming to NIU, people in each of the two communities brought with them all the built-in negative stereotypes about the others, hence, the twin solitudes. At the same time, they brought with them their prior knowledge and experience as well. Through active learning strategies, they learned new knowledge, new skills, and new attitudes that tore down the walls of discrimination and
  5. 5. prejudice. They engaged in multiple voluntary community work. Through their activity-based learning, the participants had experienced personal transformation, which supports building bridges of peace with people from the other community, which heretofore was not the case. Conclusion Summary The following summarizes the results of the research. One, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots lived harmoniously side by side each other, until they won their war of independence from Britain. Two, from the 1960s to the early 2000s, the two communities segregated themselves from one another and hostilities ensued. Three, the UN called for the two communities to start engaging in dialogues as a way to promote peace. Four, thereafter, grassroots-level as well as top-level diplomacy is taking place. Five, the implementation at NIU of a Cyprus program for bi-communal dialogue provides data regarding best practices that generates a grounded theory of how a popular education program can promote social change and peaceful coexistence among people of diverse backgrounds. Collaboratively, they construct new knowledge. From the foregoing discussion, a grounded model is developed. See below. Interactive Transformational Model Social Transformation Knowledge, Skills & Values Transformation Peace Program Knowledge, Skills, & Values 1 Social Disequilibrium 2 New Social Equilibrium Peace Educators as Agents of Change Group’s Social Capital Formation Individual Rey Ty, 2007 Economy, Politics & Culture Learning Styles & Teaching Strategies State & Civil Society Class,Gender, Ethnicity,Religion History Individuals, Groups& Leaders Thinking,Feeling &Doing Society Local, Regional, National, Int’l, & Global Individual Figure 3: Interactive Transformative Model: Dialectical Unity of the Personal and the Social Implications Using Freire’s framework, this paper reveals that historical, social, economic, political and cultural contexts affect the separation and reunification of people of different cultural backgrounds. This research confirms that transformative education for peace plays a crucial role in facilitating intercultural dialogue, which is a starting point for the creation of conditions for the development of just peace. This transformative learning is an imperative primary stage that provides the venue for people of different backgrounds to listen to one another, to engage in meaningful dialogue, to live together, to break stereotypes, to debate, and to work in a multicultural coalition, and to engage in social work leading to profound social transformation. Importance of the Research to the Practice of Popular Community Education This research is important to the practice of community education, as it presents a case study of how academic institutions and popular community educators can play a concrete role as catalysts of change in the transformation of actually existing societies. With the grounded model
  6. 6. developed as a result of this result, this research contributes to existing knowledge: it shares the findings regarding the best practices in the education program that can be applied in bringing about social change in societies where conflict necessitates a community education intervention. In addition, this research work presented a grounded theory based on the results of the analysis. Parting Words This paper confirms that sustainability and social capital are tools to put together lasting communities. Indeed, popular community educators are agents of change who build social capital among the co-learning participants that links them to a social network to start, continue, and sustain their inter-communal dialogue as a step in healing historical wounds and building a community of communities that leads to a durable peace—one activity and one person at a time. From social disequilibrium, a new social dynamic is constructed. References Anastasiou, H. (2006). Broken olive branch: Nationalism, ethnic conflict and the quest for peace in Cyprus. Bloomington, Indiana: Author House. Brewin, C. (2000). European Union and Cyprus. Huntingdon: Eothen Press. Coleman, J. S. (1990). Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge, MA, Harvard, University Press. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Hannay, D. (2005). Cyprus: The search for a solution. New York: I.B. Tauris. Hitchens, C. (1997). Hostage to history: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger. London: Verso. Ker-Lindsay, J. (2005). EU accession and UN Peacemaking in Cyprus. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Palley, C. (2005). An international relations debacle: The UN Secretary-General's mission of good offices in Cyprus, 1999-2004. Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing. Papadakis, Y. (2005). Echoes from the dead zone: Across the Cyprus divide. New York: I.B. Tauris. Plumer, A. (2003). Cyprus, 1963-64: The fateful years. Lefkosa, Cyprus: CYREP. Richmond, O. (1998). Mediating in Cyprus. Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass. Richmond, O. and Ker-Lindsay, J. (Eds.) (2001). The work of the UN in Cyprus: promoting peace and development. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Ross-Gordon, J. M., Martin, L. G., & Briscoe, D. B. (Eds.). (1990). Serving culturally diverse populations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Sheared, V. & Sissel, P. A. (2001). Making space: Merging theory and practice in adult education. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey. Talmadge, C. G. (Ed.). (1999). Providing culturally relevant adult education: A challenge for the twenty-first century. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Tocci, N. (2004). EU accession dynamics and conflict resolution: Catalysing peace or consolidating partition in Cyprus? Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate. ______________________________________________________________________________ Rey Ty, International Training Office, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, Thanks to Dr. Richard Orem, Dr. Wei Zheng, & Dr. Jorge Jeria for your kind help. Presented at the Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference in Adult, Continuing, and Community Education, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, September 25-27, 2007.