AHIF’s Foreign Policy Students Embark for Greece, Cyprus
Students Receive First-hand Foreign Policy Experience about the Region from Experts
WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) College Student Foreign Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus begins its seventh year as students from across the United States gathered for briefings in Washington before departing for Cyprus on June 19, 2015. The two-week program concludes July 3, 2015, when the students return from Athens.
“The AHI Foundation continues to be proud to offer this invaluable opportunity to our youth,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said. “The 2015 program promises to be fruitful for our students as they are eager to learn about the foreign policy issues that are important to the Greek American community and United States interests in the eastern Mediterranean. They will be immersed from the get-go, starting with briefings in Washington to high-level meetings with government officials abroad.
On June 17, the students assembled at AHI’s Hellenic House in Washington for a briefing by AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas. In the afternoon they learned about the latest developments on Capitol Hill pertaining to Greek American issues from the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). They also were briefed by Eleftheria Aristotelous, congressional liaison, Embassy of Cyprus and toured the Smithsonian’s Air and Space museum.
A full day of briefings from top legislators and diplomats were held June 18. In the morning, Amy Dove, Cyprus desk officer, Nicole Lima Nucelli, Greek desk officer, and Phil Kosnett, director, Office of Southern European Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, all briefed the students. They also met with Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos, ambassador of Greece to the United States; and First Counsellors Nicolaos Krikos and Antonis Papakostas for a briefing at the Embassy of Greece. In the afternoon, Ambassador Patrick Theros provided a presentation to the students. Lastly, they attended a discussion on the relationship between Greece, Cyprus and Israel with Rebecca Levin, senior associate, Political Outreach, AJC; and Dan Mariaschin, executive vice president, B’nai B’rith International.
During the two-week program, the students will receive first-hand experience about the foreign policy issues affecting Greece and Cyprus, their relations with the U.S., and the interests of the U.S. in the region. There will be meetings or briefings with American embassies, officials from various ministries, including Foreign Affairs; parliament members, religious leaders, think-tank organizations, and members of academia and the private sector of both countries. In Cyprus, the group will visit the Turkish-occupied area.
Zoe Andris is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology at Kenyon College, a liberal arts school in central Ohio. She is very active in her college’s Greek Life, holding leadership positions in her sorority as well as serving as the Academic Coordinator for Greek Council. She was nominated for Emerging Leader of the Year Award for her work in both organizations. Additionally, she has been involved in research projects and publications in geography and anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University and George Washington University, respectively. Very passionate about her Greek heritage, Zoe has been blessed with the opportunity to spend every summer of her life in her family’s village, located in the Peloponnesian Mountains near Sparta. She is eager to learn more about the political and economic issues facing her home country, Cyprus and Macedonia. “From being involved with my church’s GOYA community to returning to my roots in the summertime, being Greek and the honor, pride, and love for the culture that accompanies it is so integral to who I am. I’m grateful for the chance to experience firsthand and gain knowledge on the various challenges Greeks and Cypriots are facing. I hope to bring back all that I’ve learned to my family, peers and community so that they too can develop a more accurate understanding of these world issues,” Zoe said.
Corinne Candilis is a junior at Swarthmore College pursuing an Honors degree in Economics with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. She became interested in Economics when she began to observe how the Greek Debt crisis was affecting her Greek family and the nation as a whole. Her studies and interests led her to publish several articles on fiscal policy and debt restructuring in her local paper and the American Hellenic Institute Foundation Policy Journal. Corinne is a veteran of several local and national political campaigns, and has interned for local politicians and for a Sudanese refugee organization. Last summer she attended the AHEPA Journey to Greece program to further her knowledge of Greek language and culture. Corinne is a goalkeeper for the Swarthmore Women's Varsity Lacrosse team and sings in a co-ed a cappella group." As a Greek-American and a peace and conflict student it is a natural progression to learn about the Cyprus conflict in great depth. By exploring the conflict from all sides we will be able to see where conflict management theories are effective and where they fall short, preparing us to add nuance to the academic literature on conflict resolution."
Jerry Christodoulatos is a recent graduate of Villanova University in Pennsylvania, who received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Classical Studies and History. He hopes to attend graduate school to study international relations within the next year and eventually wants to pursue a Ph.D. Jerry interned at AMEC Environment & Infrastructure each of the past three summers before visiting Greece. Studying classics over the past four years has exposed him to many facets of ancient Greek culture and literature. He speaks Greek fluently and has been visiting Greece every summer since he was a child. His frequent stays in Greece have immersed him in modern Hellenic culture and have introduced him to Greek political affairs. He desires to develop a more nuanced understanding of Greek politics and US-Greek relations on this upcoming trip. Jerry hopes that he can apply all he learns about the political atmosphere of Greece to his graduate studies, and that he can help contribute to the continued growth of fruitful relations between the US and Greece.
Kristina Demolli is currently a senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as a double major in Human Biology and Economics. In pursuit of a dual degree, Kristina enjoys the challenge of blending human sciences with economics, and the unusual and unexpected ways in which each course of study enhances the other. Kristina’s focus on mathematics, intermediate microeconomics, and the economics of Latin America has helped deepen her understanding of the interactions and mechanics of goods, pricing, wage rates, interest rates and the principles of production, distribution and consumption, which will prove valuable in the examination of both Greece’s and Cyprus’s current economic status and social impacts of policy. Kristina’s academic goal, beyond the school environment, is to obtain first-hand experience with the implementation of political policy and its economic effects, not only in the United States, but also on a global level. “At fifteen years old, I moved from Athens to Sacramento, quickly adapting to a new culture and different language. Like my mentor, Mr. Angelo Tsakopoulos, who also immigrated from Greece at fifteen years old and then achieved academic and business success through hard work and commitment to the Hellenistic code, while remaining mindful to modern Greek issues, I am inspired to follow his example; to understand my native Greece, and Cyprus, on a greater socio-economic level and give back through my academic experiences to the cultures that helped shape my future,” Kristina explained.
Orlando Economos is a rising junior at Tufts University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Film Studies and Production. His studies have thus far centered around security issues and the regional politics of the EU and Russia, as well as US foreign policy. At Tufts, he is involved in the student film society, TUTV, and performs with the a cappella group he helped found, in addition to playing on the Tufts Ultimate team. In 2014, he represented Tufts at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway, where he produced a documentary short film about the influence of one’s culture in assessing international events and overcoming personal bias. He hopes to one day work in diplomacy and help formulate US foreign policy, and to continue to nurture his passion for film. “When we look at the world around us, and the goings on of international politics,” Orlando said, “We are vulnerable to the bias that comes from our background, from our heritage. I wish to know mine better in the context of foreign affairs so that I can become a more productive and effective member of society, and, hopefully, one day, a diplomat. The AHI foreign policy trip to Greece and Cyprus will allow me to do just that, and I am thankful for the opportunity.”
Elias Gerasoulis is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts double major in government and history at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. On campus, he directs logistical tasks and brings in speakers for various political organizations. In addition, he is an upcoming leader in Penn's Hellenic Society. This summer, Elias will be working for New Jersey Congressman Tom MacArthur in addition to his participation in the AHI Foreign Policy Trip. In the long run, he aspires to attend law school and contribute to society through public service. Elias' father introduced him to Greek issues and values, spurring not only an interest towards global affairs, but a strong affinity towards and connection to Hellenism: “Growing up, my father's narrations of his own powerful personal story, contemporary Greek history, and ancient Greek culture moved me to extensively study Greek values, history, and philosophy. My heritage is a very important foundation in my life that has lent a tremendous amount of perspective and identity. The AHI Foreign Policy Trip will allow me to gain greater insight on the issues and concerns that Greece and Cyprus are currently grappling with, fueling my hopes of contributing to a culture and a people that have given me so much.” said Elias.
Yanni Metaxas is a junior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics with distinction in Arts & Sciences, and a minor in Modern Greek Studies. He is the president of the Boston University Philhellenes Project as well as the Music Director of The Dear Abbeys, BU’s only all-male a cappella group. He has also studied at the American College of Greece. He has been on the Dean’s list of BU’s College of Arts & Sciences, serves as a lab assistant for the Core Curriculum and as a referee and umpire for intramural sports. Part of his studies as a Modern Greek Studies minor revolve around the question of whether the United States and other Western nations who lay claim to the political and cultural heritage of ancient Greece are living up to the standards set by the ancient Hellenes. He looks to gain a better picture of the United States, Greece and Cyprus through their foreign policies that will in turn advance his studies in Modern Greek.
Niko Piperis is a rising junior from Omaha, Nebraska pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Philosophy at Boston College. On campus, he serves as a trip leader for the Appalachia Volunteers, the Co-President of the Society of Native American Peoples, a coordinator on the Campus Activities Board and a member of the Club Tennis team. His academic interests include the difficulty of self-knowledge and spiritual discernment in modern society, in addition to the continuation of regional ethnic culture in a globalized world. His future plans focus on getting the most out of his current opportunities under Jesuit education. "This trip is a unique opportunity to observe firsthand how Greece plans to move forward at a time of great change. Seeing how officials plan to bridge the gap between the government and the people while retaining our strong national and cultural identity in an increasingly homogeneous Europe is of the utmost importance to me as a proud Hellenic American. Overall, I hope that this trip serves to foster a stronger connection with my πατρίδα."
Peter Tsetsekos is a pre-junior at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, in Philadelphia, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Peter has taken international business courses and has a great appreciation of global business practices. As global business is influenced by foreign affairs and geopolitical risks, Peter hopes to learn more about the issues that influence trade and business relations between the US, Greece and Cyprus. “Drexel’s education is founded on co-op experiential education and in a similar fashion this trip will offer me an opportunity to gain hands-on experience on how diplomacy works and how conflicts are resolved. Understanding foreign policy and diplomacy will let me gain an appreciation of the challenges businesses face when involved in global trade and international business. As a second generation Greek American I have a deep interest in continuing to learn about my heritage and the foreign affairs policies of the US towards Greek and Cyprus,” Peter said. Peter proud of his heritage visits Naxos island every year and he is an experienced windsurfer and has participated in US, Greek and international competitions.
Elizabeth Vasilogambros is a sophomore at Butler University pursuing her Bachelor of Arts double major degree in Political Science and Strategic Communication, with a minor in sociology. For the past five years, she has dedicated much of her spring and summer breaks to mission trips, helping people in a variety of depressed communities throughout the US. She expects that her future career pursuits will also have a giving-back feature. In the summer of 2016, she will study at the London School of Economics and Political Science, with an emphasis in international relations. Post collegiate plans also include law school. The AHI trip will provide a rare close-up view of international relations from an insider’s perspective, and will be invaluable real-world exposure to her chosen field of study.
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American think tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos 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.
AHIF’s Foreign Policy Students Embark for Greece, Cyprus