Student Experiences Converging Cultures in Cyprus

June 26, 2015

When psychology major Shileel Foreman came to Susquehanna University from his hometown of Philadelphia three years ago, he'd never heard of Cyprus.

Three years later, the rising senior, facing a decision regarding where he wanted to study for his Global Opportunities requirement, chose Cyprus, an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

"I chose the Cyprus trip because I thought it would be interesting to learn more about that culture," Foreman said upon his return.

GO Cyprus: A Table Divided is led by Christina Dinges, study away advisor in the Office of Cross-Cultural Programs; Cymone Fourshey, associate professor of history; and Jerry Habegger, associate professor of accounting. The two-week summer program is based in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Students spent time in North Turkish Cypriot, which is predominantly Muslim, as well as the South Greek Cypriot, which is predominantly Greek Orthodox. Historical site visits included several medieval castles, including the Lemesos dating to the 16th century.

"These castles revealed the long history of occupation and diversity Cyprus has experienced from Rome, Greece, France and Turkey, among other places," Fourshey said.

Foreman experienced Cyprus' diversity through meetings with its citizens and eating and preparing their native dishes. The activity, "Cyprus Challenge Handbook," challenged students to immerse themselves in the community by accomplishing certain activities.

"We would have to find a museum, meet up with town locals or sample Turkish coffee," Foreman said. "We had halloumi cheese and meze every night, which was a variety of different food that we all got to eat." Halloumi is a Cypriot cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk. Meza is a selection of small dishes similar to tapas.

Foreman was also able to learn a limited amount of Turkish and Greek language before leaving for the Mediterranean, and says spending time with and around Cyprus' citizens gave him a greater understanding of their lifestyle.

"They'd sit down for dinner for three hours. In the U.S., we'll say, 'Oh, we have to get this, do that, move quick, move quick,'" Foreman said. "They moved at a much slower pace here and I actually liked that."

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