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YEU Cyprus volunteers get creative during COVID-19 lockdown

YEU Cyprus European Solidarity Corps project “Mission Tradition” started in May 2019 and ended in April 2020. It was a yearlong project that focused on Cypriot Tradition, the volunteers managed to reveal some of the oldest and most forgotten traditions of the island. We had seven volunteers form six countries; Italy, Spain, North Macedonia, Romania, Czech Republic and France (Martinique). The group itself was a very interesting mixture of cultures and all of them together through several events, activities and workshops aided in the rebirth of forgotten traditions. As the ESC officer said, “volunteers from several parts of the world came together to teach Cypriots, mostly young ones about their own country.” By going through Mission Tradition Facebook page and Website is it profound that the work these volunteers did was of great importance. Unfortunately, Cypriots are raised in a very selective – as to what it is important and what is not important – education system. And even though, cultural heritage is praised a lot of people are up to this day, ignorant of the rich culture of the island which in some cases dates back to the BC era.

The Mission Tradition volunteers were very active and had several projects planned up until the end of their mobility. Unfortunately, on the 9th of March, the first case of COVID-19 was recorded on the island. After that things changed as the volunteers were advised to work from home which was the first precautionary measure that was taken. Events were getting cancelled even before the Republic of Cyprus announced that the island was in a state of quarantine. The result was that the volunteers were forced to stay home for approximately the last two months of their mobility.

Luckily, they did not lose their appetite for work and over the duration of the quarantine, they managed to find ways to stay active. Before the virus, one of the volunteers was preparing a photography exhibition event in a small traditional café in the heart of Nicosia. Instead of abandoning the idea, Alessia decided to create a virtual exhibition. The name of the exhibition is “Walking on the Mediterranean Path” and the pictures were taken by an Italian photographer named Sergio Vaccaro who lives on the island for several years now. The exhibition portraits the way the photographer perceives tradition as someone who is neither local nor a tourist. The following link will take you to the exhibition through which you can get a small taste of Cyprus.

What is more, the volunteers as most people did while staying all day home, was to get creative in the kitchen. They started cooking and baking traditional dishes from their county as well as Cypriot ones. Gabriele, one of the two Italians was the one who embraced this idea the most. He created a video showing people how to make pasta and specifically Tagliatelle, then he created another video making a sauce called Ragu which is something that accompanies pasta. He also baked a traditional cheese bread which is an Easter Tradition in the Italian Marche region. He was also the one who decided to try baking Flaounes which is a traditional cheese pie that Cypriots make during Easter and he was very successful at it. Michaele our Czech volunteer and Alessia the other Italian decided to try to bake a traditional Cypriot Olive Pie. It wasn’t a huge success but the girls definitely enjoyed the process which is something that you can see in the video. Mario and Marko, baked a sweet bread that resembles Tsoureki which is again traditionally made during the Orthodox Easter in several countries including Cyprus, Greece and North Macedonia. All of the videos can be found in the Mission Tradition YouTube Channel at the following link.

The volunteers did their best to stay active even from home, most of them will stay in Cyprus even after their mobility ends because of the flight restrictions due to the virus. As an organization, we will definitely miss their contribution, creative ideas.


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