Teaching in the Buffer Zone
A writing workshop in the no man's land of Nicosia, Cyprus
In a building across from a bullet-riddled former hotel, above a café where UN Peacekeeper officers in blue berets sip their morning coffees, we had our writing workshop. The unique setting on a vibrant spring day turned into a generator of creativity and exchange.
On the 26th of March, my Fulbright colleague Janan Alexandra and I taught “A True and Beautiful Story: Crafting the Lyric Biography,” at the Home for Cooperation within the United Nations Buffer Zone in Nicosia. The Buffer Zone or “Green Line” was established in 1963 during a wave of intercommunal violence in Cyprus, and the no man’s land continues to separate the island to this day. The Home for Cooperation, with offices and classrooms in the Buffer Zone, is an NGO designed to facilitate exchange between the communities of Cyprus.
Though our classroom was small, we had big ideas to share with participants from both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities. The lyric biography is a genre that allows for an exploration of a person’s life deeper than a conventional recounting of journalistic facts. How can we drive at a deeper truth and understanding through interviews that strike at a poetic understanding of a person’s essence?
Through our conversations, we came a little bit closer to acquiring that truth. I’m grateful for the collaboration of the Home for Cooperation in this effort and hope to work with them again before I depart Cyprus.
This is the thirteenth post in The Cyprus Files, a limited-run newsletter series from The Usonian chronicling my Fulbright experiences in Cyprus. You can read all the posts in The Cyprus Files here. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a (free) dispatch from the island of Aphrodite!