PRAGUE – For the entirety of my life, borders have always been a subject of immense sadness, grief, stress.
Will I be permitted to cross this time? Did my dad remember to bring his two IDs and Canadian passport, just in case they create problems?
Should we greet the police in English or in Greek? Which one will they respond to better?
How long is the line, will I be on time for my graduation? A plethora of similar questions plague my mind and the minds of many others crossing the border from the North to the South of Cyprus; from students, to tourists, to locals trying to escape the inflation in the North.
So during Youth Journalism International’s Global Conference in Prague, crossing the border from the Czech Republic into Germany was a large source of stress for me.
Our group had multiple nationalities and different passports and IDs for more than 20 people.
I found myself dreading the crossing from one country to the other.
But we weren’t stopped. Not once. I didn’t even realize where the Czech Republic ended and Germany began.
There were no blockades, no flags displayed with undertones of microaggression, no fuss.
As someone who has crossed the Cypriot border almost every day for school for the past seven years, it had become common to be greeted with a buffer zone with limited signs of life, blatant propaganda, large flags, and oftentimes, grumpy police officers.
The seamless transition from the Czech Republic to Germany was bittersweet. On the one hand, such a peaceful passage from one country to another gave me hope for us, for my divided country to one day become whole.
I mean, if two different countries could make it possible to travel so easily, why couldn’t we achieve this?
On the other hand, I felt myself getting furious, angry that it was harder for me to pass into the same city than another country. Angry that I had friends cry over the border when they weren’t permitted to cross for no reason.
Angry that it has been almost two decades since the borders opened for crossing, and yet it seems as if it’s getting harder and harder to cross. Angry that I can’t go to a friend’s house without being stopped twice, without the constant reminder of our division.
I suppose there’s a lesson in there for us Cypriots, of what could have been, of what still can be if we move forward with our efforts.
Borders have always been such a source of sorrow for us in Cyprus.
Perhaps it’s time to redefine the idea of borders, not as something that divides us physically and drains us emotionally, but as something that acts as a mere indication that you are passing into a different culture, with mesmerizing sites and delicious delicacies awaiting you.
Erin Timur is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International from Cyprus.