American Hellenic Institute Foundation
AHIF is Accepting Applications for its Tenth Annual
College Student Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus
June 19-July 6, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC—The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) is accepting applications for its leading travel abroad program the AHIF College Student Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus aimed to help Greek and Cypriot American college students better understand the core foreign policy issues important to the Greek American community. The trip is scheduled for June 19 - July 6, 2018.
During the two-week trip, the students will have the opportunity to experience first-hand foreign policy issues affecting Greece and Cyprus, and the interests of the U.S. in the region. Prior to their departure, students will meet in Washington, DC where they will attend meetings and briefings with officials at Greek and Cypriot embassies, the State Department, Congress and think-tanks.
While in Greece and Cyprus the students will attend briefings with officials at the American embassies; various ministries, including Foreign Affairs; military; members of Parliament; religious leaders; think-tanks, and members of academia and the private sector. In Cyprus, the group will visit the Turkish-occupied area, receive a guided tour of old Nicosia Airport-UNFICYP in the demilitarized zone, and take a day trip to Paphos and Ayia Napa. While in Greece, they will participate in a day trip on a private boat and an exclusive tour of the Karaiskakis Stadium, the home stadium of Olympiacos FC.
AHI President Nick Larigakis will lead the group to Greece and Cyprus. “Since its inception AHIF has promoted a better understanding of Hellenic issues and strived to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and the United States and Cyprus,” he said. “Over the years we have held conferences on the future of Hellenism in America, and seminars pertaining to our issues and for the purpose of educating and informing U.S. policy makers. Through the College Student Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus we are now able to offer a hands-on experience aimed giving college students a better understanding and connection of the issues that affect our community and better prepare them to be responsible leaders of the Greek American community.”
Although the AHIF does not have the capacity to provide academic credit, students can enhance their degree by doing so independently through their universities. Past trip participants have met with their academic advisors to obtain course equivalency approvals for major, minor, general education or other degree requirements as well as scholarships or funding possibilities provided through the university. We will be happy to complete any forms necessary to assist you with this process.
The program is open to undergraduate students (rising sophomores) and to graduate students with a full-time enrollment status and a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA. Students with a keen interest in US-Greek-Cyprus relations and policy challenges facing Greece and Cyprus will benefit from this program. Program size is limited, and participation is contingent upon acceptance by the program review committee. Our program operates on a rolling admission basis beginning in January; priority is given to applications received by March 31, afterward in a space-available basis.
Cost and Accommodations:
Hotel accommodations (McLean Tyson’s Corner Hilton, McLean, Virginia; Hilton Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus & Grande Bretagne, Athens, Greece) as well as most meals in Washington, DC, Greece, and Cyprus and transportation to and from the hotels, airport, excursions and meetings will be covered by the AHIF. Upon acceptance to the program, students will be responsible for purchasing their airline tickets. The approximate cost for the round-trip ticket from Washington, DC-Larnaca-Athens-US is $2,400. All airline tickets must be purchased through a travel agency secured by AHIF. Those who wish to extend their stay in Greece should note that the cost for an extended trip will be higher.
All application materials are to be submitted together in one package by March 31:
*The $500 deposit will be returned to you after the evaluation form and 650-word essay have been received by AHIF at the conclusion of the program. No refunds will be given if you cancel after May 15.
Phone interviews are an integral component of the trip application. Applicants who have submitted all of their paperwork will then be notified by email that they have qualified for the interview, which is the next phase in the process.
Submitting the application:
All items must be received by March 31, 2018. Your application will not be reviewed until ALL items are received (including the $500 deposit). Application review begins in January; priority is given to applications received by March 31; after March 31, applications are considered on a space-available basis.
Photographic slideshow created and produced by 2015 participant Orlando Economou.
For more information about previous trips and the students’ experiences, please click the links below:
For more information contact Yola Pakhchanian at [email protected].
Student Testimonials and Reflections…In their own words…
The American Hellenic Institute Foundation Foreign Policy Program is an unparalleled experience. Foreign policy came to life as we explored pressing issues facing the Republic of Cyprus and Greece. It is one thing to read about foreign policy in a textbook or newspaper, yet another thing entirely to watch it unfold before your eyes. In Cyprus, we witnessed firsthand the consequences of the Turkish invasion of 1974—desecrated Greek Orthodox Churches, pillaged villages, and the abandoned ghost city of Famagusta. Despite the invasion and its devastating effects, however, we witnessed a nation that wishes to be known for more than just the Turkish conflict. “We need to change the brand name of Cyprus,” Government Spokesman Christodoulides told us. Cyprus, he said, is a “predictable, stable, and reliable” country that is working with the United States to combat terrorism, enhance security and military efforts in the Mediterranean and Middle East, and to explore energy development.
Throughout the program, we engaged with perspectives of all kinds—politicians, policymakers, foreign service officers, non-profit activists, military personnel, and legal experts. But the prevailing message was clear: the geopolitical significance of Cyprus and Greece is indisputable. Both countries serve as bridges between the East and West, at the crossroads between three continents, as “anchors of democracy” in the Mediterranean, and as links to the Muslim world. The AHIF trip has offered me a new appreciation for the paramount value of a fair and equitable solution in the Republic of Cyprus based on the rule of law, and for the importance of continued advocacy for lasting peace and prosperity in Cyprus and Greece.
—Elizabeth Tzimopoulos Conway graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University in 2017 with Bachelor’s and Master's degrees in political science. Recently she joined Deloitte's federal advisory team in Washington, D.C.
Of all the various government internships and volunteer opportunities I have completed as an undergraduate, the AHIF Foreign Policy Trip stands out. It was a special experience to be able to reconnect with the land of my ancestors and to learn about the role of Greece and Cyprus in the contemporary world as well as their challenges and opportunities. It was also a great honor to be able to attend meetings and tour the region as a proud American citizen. Greek culture and history is important to Americans of Hellenic descent because it has formulated us into the productive and loyal citizens we are. It is for this reason that Americans of Hellenic descent must strive to maintain some sort of connection to their homeland, all the while acting to solidify closer ties between the United States, Greece, and Cyprus. The greatest impression I received on the AHIF Foreign Policy trip was the invaluable aspect of developing and maintaining relationships. Never before have I been afforded a remotely similar chance to interact with military, political, business, and cultural leaders of two entirely different countries. The most important elements surrounding successful diplomatic visits and discussions is cooperation. In any given scenario, both sides need to be able to communicate with one another in order for the door of prosperity and peace to open.
—Christopher Coombs is a graduate from the University of Utah with a double major in History and Political Science. Chris currently moved to Brookline, Massachusetts to attend Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology to pursue a Masters in Divinity.
Having the opportunity to participate in the AHIF Foreign Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus has been an experience of a lifetime. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see places and meet people I probably would have never otherwise had the chance to. I learned a great deal from witnessing and speaking directly to people who handle large-scale issues such as foreign policy, international relations, or national security. While I have been to Greece before, this trip gave me a completely different perspective of the country, allowing me to see it from a more objective viewpoint and better understand the country beyond what is seen on the surface of beauty and culture. Furthermore, I had never been to Cyprus and prior to the trip was very unfamiliar with what life is like there, the country’s geostrategic value, and even the Cyprus issue. I did not know what to expect when going there, especially regarding the Turkish occupied area, but by the end of the trip realized how significant it was to learn about. Not very many people actually know much about the Cyprus issue, if at all, so I am grateful that this trip has equipped me with the knowledge and first-hand experience to speak about it as an advocate and create awareness for something more people ought to be familiar with. Because of this program, I feel more confident and empowered as a student invested in these topics, as a young adult on a path to a professional career in a similar field, and as an American of Hellenic descent who can speak out about these foreign policy issues. -
—Giana Damianos, a Dean’s List student at Indiana University, is majoring in Economics and Political Science and minoring in Psychology. Giana is a junior and has been named a 2017 award recipient by the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation.
I have traveled to Greece many times, but the two weeks spent on the AHIF Foreign Policy College Student Trip to Greece and Cyprus were my most impactful and memorable experiences in Greece. As an economics and business major in college, I was not exposed to learning the issues affecting Greece or the Republic of Cyprus. Much of what I knew came from news articles and discussions with family living in Greece. The AHIF Foreign Policy College Student Trip offers a unique opportunity for Americans of Hellenic descent to see Greece and Cyprus from a completely different and rewarding perspective. AHI provided unrivaled access to top officials in the Greek and Cypriot governments, and it was transformative to witness the treacherous wrongs that are continually committed in the illegal Turkish occupied area. I now am equipped with the ability to speak intelligently on these issues in any setting. I plan to use the perspective gained from this trip to advocate for my Hellenic heritage and inform friends and fellow Greek-Americans about the present situation in Greece and Cyprus.
—Theofilos Koulianos graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hampden-Sydney College with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Economics and Business. He currently is in graduate school at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business pursuing a Masters of Management Studies and he will be studying in Shanghai beginning in January 2018.
The AHIF Foreign Policy Trip has certainly been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. It has dramatically shifted how I view Greece: rather than just a vacation destination or place to visit family, I now also view it as a key geostrategic player with much potential for further engagement with the United States. However, the experience itself went far beyond my increased knowledge of policy. The trip provided a unique degree of access in our meetings and tours. People who live incredibly busy lives, in immensely specialized fields, allowed us firsthand glimpses into their worlds. Because of this closeness, there were striking moments, such as seeing a live Turkish violation of Greek airspace when at the Ministry of Defense in Athens, talking to a pilot at Souda Bay who had just the day before engaged in a dogfight, or seeing the bones of the missing people from the invasion in a lab in Cyprus. These in the moment experiences provide a certain power that one cannot get from an article or briefing, and thus I know they will live with me and be at the forefront of my mind when thinking of Greece and Cyprus.
—Theodore Pedas, a sophomore at Yale University, is a prospective Global Affairs major with a concentration in International Security.
The trip was jam-packed with real-life contact with the people and institutions that steer American, Greek and Cypriot politics. As a student of both politics and history, the value of our days in Washington, D.C. and the eastern Mediterranean is indescribable. Sitting down and conversing with the officials who bear the responsibility of governance in three different nations, as well as seeing the pieces in action myself, was a huge gift. I would call the AHIF trip a must for anyone concerned with international politics; and for those of Hellenic descent, I would insist on applying even more.
—Stavros Piperis, a junior at Boston College, is studying Political Science and is a member of the department's Honors Program.
The AHIF College Foreign Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus was an unforgettable and transformative experience that has inspired and moved me to act as an advocate for issues related to Cyprus and my ancestors home of Greece. Before this trip, Hellenism already has a deep and profound place in my heart. This incredible opportunity to combine Hellenism and a new-found passion of politics and policy was thought provoking and enlightening.
After this trip, I know feel the accountability as an American of Hellenic descent to fight for the removal of the Turkish troops in Cyprus, the religious freedom of the Christians and the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople, promoting Greece’s geostrategic position in the Eastern Mediterranean, protecting the Aegean Sea boundary, and other issues that are important to the well- being of Greece and the United States of America.
I am forever grateful to the American Hellenic Institute for expanding my knowledge on the issues and allowing me to partake in a once in a lifetime trip which allowed us to meet with a vast majority of movers and shakers in both Cyprus and Greece. A passion for Hellenism and a sense of Philotimo is what is needed to solve these tough problems.”
—Nico Bamberger Priskos, graduated from the University of Utah in 2017, where he double majored in Entrepreneurship and Political Science, along with a minor in International Studies.
I am proud Greek American; plain and simple. The cultural values, morals and standards are embedded in my soul and have shaped me as a person. It is my heritage, ethnic background, family history; however, it’s phrased, it is a huge part of my life. Since a young age my parents taught me Philotimo. Philotimo is a Greek word that doesn’t exactly translate into one specific English word. It roughly translates into words such as duty, courage, generosity, empathy, humility, humbleness, kindness, respect and honesty. It is about making personal sacrifices, taking pride in our work, rising above trivial matters, and it is beyond our own self-interests. Philotimo is about devotion to family, friends, community, and a strong desire to give back. These personal principles of mine are intertwined into almost every aspect of my life.
Going on this trip has only amplified what I already know; Greeks are disciplined hard workers that have a dedication to bettering Greece and protecting the front lines against terror. They teach us that doing the right thing is not about recognizing the glory and honor of the action, but it’s about the glory and honor within ourselves. Every encounter in life leaves an impression of who you are and what you value. My faith, judgements, and volunteer work keep me humble and grateful for the life I have. Most of all I’m thankful that I’m Greek American and that the culture gives me strength of character to not be selfish but selfless.
—Paraskevie Ramfos is a sophomore and an honors student at the University of Alabama majoring in International Studies and minoring in French and Public Policy Studies.
When I first discovered I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the American Hellenic Institute Foreign Policy trip I was unsure what to expect. Not only had I never been to either Greece or Cyprus, but I also had never studied foreign policy or global affairs to such a capacity. While having this trip be my first time I visited either of these countries set my experience apart from those of my peers I believe that it was to my benefit. I say this because often times beautiful countries such as Greece and Cyprus, with their gorgeous beaches and magnificent tourist spots are seen as just that, vacation areas. While these attractions are part of what contributes to the overall beauty of these places, I have noticed that they can also blind people, myself included, from seeing them as actual countries. Instead they are viewed either as vacation spots or purely as government entities that occasionally make their way into U.S. headlines; neither of which do them justice. However, after attending this trip I now feel like my view of both Greece and Cyprus is a more realistic one, and intend to pass on the knowledge I have learned to my peers in the U.S. so that they may have the same cultural awakening that I did.
—Stephanie Tanzi, an honors student at the College of Charleston is an Art's Management major who is part of her school's Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community program.
I am extremely grateful to the American Hellenic Institute and Mr. Nick Larigakis for putting this trip into place as an opportunity for me to grow and learn about the geostrategic importance of Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The access offered by this program is a once in a lifetime experience. The people with whom we met are the real policy makers and actors. Their personal experiences bring the legality of the facts on the ground into stark relief. I am extremely grateful that I was able to attend this program and have my knowledge of Greece and Cyprus extendbeyond that of the mere tourist.
—Luke Tassopoulos is a fourth year at the University of Virginia, currently pursuing a B.A. in History as well as a Religious Studies minor from the College of Arts and Sciences. He also starts on his first year of a two year Accelerated Masters Program in Public Policy from the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
For additional information, please contact Constantine Politis at (202) 785-8430 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at https://www.ahiworld.org and follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC.