Mıstıki Araz: “In Cyprus – we are capable, we lack opportunities, not knowledge!”
Mıstıki Araz is a 18-year-old peace activist from Cyprus, who is helping to find new ways to break stereotypes and challenge the historical narratives he was taught since his childhood.
Acknowledging that there is still a lot to do for a more equal society and for young people to have their voices heard, he highlights that “it is important to use my technology knowledge to the best of my abilities to promote what I believe in. Nowadays, with the ease of access to information I aspire to learn everything that could facilitate the work of my co-workers and fellow activists.”
To mark World Youth Skills Day, UNFICYP’s Civil Affairs Section, has been focusing on the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. This year, the celebrations around the day are taking place in a challenging context, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused significant impact in the lives of young Cypriots across the island.
Young people are particularly exposed to the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. School and workplace closures are leading to learning and training losses. On this day, the UN pays tribute to the resilience and creativity of youth through the crisis.
Despite the challenges, Mıstıki decided to look at the positive side of the COVID-19 pandemic since last year: “There were a lot of changes that I needed to get used to. Everything changed from in-person to online overnight, so I was able to participate in various webinars, workshops and meetings organised by many Cypriots, which I wouldn’t be able to attend while studying in France”.
“Having all of my meetings online and not limiting my schedule around transportation has helped enormously with having a lot of free time left on my hands”, he notes.
Mıstıki believes that “the post-pandemic world is different in every aspect. The pandemic has shown how platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which were deemed unhealthy for us, can be utilised to influence people for the better and how everyone can potentially become an activist. Currently where us, the youth, is shut down and ignored because of our age, social media knowledge is the most vital skill to have in order to make our voices heard”.
He strongly believes that “investing in youth and increasing job opportunities for Cypriot youth is important,” he suggests.
For him, “the UN in Cyprus organizes many events that show us that we have the capability of doing many things which helps us in finding our way in continuing doing what we like. After all, in Cyprus we lack opportunities, not knowledge”, he concludes.