December 6, 2023

Readers mail…
Charis Charalambous…

Conversation Cafe Cyprus held its 6th meeting on February 7th, in downtown Nicosia. The meeting, co-organised with the NGO YEU Cyprus and its volunteer branch, Mission Tradition, was the first in a series of collaborations with other organised groups that Conversation Cafe Cyprus is planning for this year, besides its regular monthly events. Unlike previous meetings, the one on February 7th was focused on the topic of Tradition, which was explored on a personal, social and global level through conversation, followed by artistic representation (drawings) of what the meeting’s participants felt comfortable sharing with others regarding their personal traditions.

“Conversation Cafe Cyprus – Creating the Space for Connection” was initiated in 2019 by Charis Charalambous and Gulsen Kadri. Charis and Gulsen have a combined background in Psychology, Experiential Learning, Facilitation, Health & Nutrition and the Performing Arts. They bring to Cyprus the global “Conversation Café” concept (which began in the USA in 2001 and spread to various parts of the world), to create the space for people from the multiple communities living on the island to engage in meaningful conversations about topics that are mutually important.

In a diverse, changing world, we all need opportunities to listen and connect in a spirit of curiosity, respect and warmth and in effect create social capital through shared knowledge, new connections and trust. The meetings are based on principles of open-mindedness (listen to and respect all points of view), acceptance (suspend judgment as best as you can), curiosity (seek to understand rather than persuade), discovery (question assumptions, look for new insights), sincerity (speak from your heart and personal experience) and brevity (go for honesty and depth – don’t just go on and on).

The Conversation Cafe Cyprus events follow various facilitated dialogue formats for a total of 2 hours.  They take place at least once per month in selected locations across the island and engage up to about 20 persons every time. Through carefully selected activities, the persons that attend get to know the other participants, share ideas and feelings on various topics (depending on the event) and reflect on their experience of the conversation.

Participation to the meetings is free.  Each meeting of the Conversation Cafe Cyprus has 3 core rounds. Firstly, a light question, different for everyone, to help “break the ice” and let every person share something about him/her self. Then, a more serious question, different to everyone, that is answered in plenary or pairs. This leads to the question(s) for longer conversation which is/are discussed either in plenary or in groups for 40-45 minutes. The questions are prepared by the Conversation Cafe hostesses and include questions contributed by the people who attend the meetings. The deeper conversation questions are later shared on the initiative’s Facebook page click here so that everyone that follows it will be able to use them to open conversations with others in their contexts.

The next Conversation Cafe Cyprus meeting will be held on Friday, February 28th, between 7:30-9:30pm at Zahra 11 Café in the old town of Nicosia (on Zahra Sokak). The event is entitled “Conversation Carnival”. Participants can come dressed-up in carnival style, if they wish; the organisers only ask that the costumes are sustainable to avoid the unnecessary waste typically associated with carnivals.

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