How to Build Relationships in Cyprus

A few days ago, I went to my local supermarket and was asked by the ladies at the market about my ethnic and national background. I had shared about my background before with a couple of the folks at the store, but I gathered they had forgotten when I heard one of them say, “Ni hao,” to Linus. (I smile when I see them say this. I think it shows how they try to connect with Linus in what they perceive to be his language.)

So one of the ladies asked me where I was from? I said from America, and she said, yes, but where? I said, “<my current state in America>.”

Then one of the other ladies chimed in saying that Linus can become a Cypriot citizen after living here for 5 years. I was like, “what?” Then another lady asked how long we have been here and how long we will be staying. I told her our stay here is just for a few more months.  One of the ladies said, “I told them that you are American, but the others did not believe me.”

I look back at my first encounter with the ladies at the store, and it was a cold and distant one at the beginning. But now, I know they have kids similar to Linus’ age. I know one of them is planning a trip to visit Spain for the first time in her life. They joke with me in the check out line. I know it seems so silly to think these little moments matter, but they do.  These little moments are the things that make life in Cyprus one enjoyable and learnable – that over time, you can find kindness in people in spite of language or cultural barriers.

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