American Hellenic Institute Foundation
AHIF is Accepting Applications for its Eighth Annual
College Student Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus
June 15-July 1, 2016
Call for Applications
WASHINGTON, DC—The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) is accepting applications for its travel abroad program aimed to help Greek American college students better understand the core foreign policy issues important to the Greek American community. The program is open to Greek American and Cypriot American college students who are in good academic standing. The trip is scheduled for June 15 - July 1, 2016.
During the two-week trip to Washington, DC, Greece and Cyprus the students will have the opportunity to see and experience first-hand foreign policy issues affecting Greece and Cyprus, their relations with the U.S., and the interests of the U.S. in the region. Although the schedule will be packed with briefings and meetings with officials, the students will also have free time to visit historic and other cultural sites in both Greece and Cyprus.
Prior to departure students will meet in Washington, DC to attend a mandatory briefing about their trip. They will also attend meetings and briefings with Greek, Cypriot and U.S. officials in Washington, Greece and Cyprus. The briefings place emphasis on the students’ understanding of Greek-Cyprus-Turkish relations and provide insight on the issues affecting the eastern Mediterranean region, including Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
The program is open to undergraduate or graduate students (rising sophomores to second-year graduate students) with a full-time enrollment status (12 credit hours per semester), and have a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA. Program size is limited, and participation is contingent upon acceptance by the program review committee.
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 conferences pertaining to our issues to educate and inform 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 at our college students to help them have 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.”
Cost and Accommodations:
Hotel accommodations, local transportation and most meals in Washington, DC, Greece and Cyprus will be covered by AHIF. The students will be responsible for the airline tickets from Washington to Larnaca, Cyprus and Athens, Greece and return to the United States (approximately $2,400). The AHIF has secured the services of a travel agency to ease with your travel needs and all arrangements will have to be made through this travel agency. Students will have to make their own arrangements to get to Washington. However, the travel agent will be available to help those that need assistance. Those who wish to extend their stay in Greece should contact the travel agent directly to make those arrangements and make a notation of the dates in the application form. Please note that the cost for an extended trip will be higher and additional form will be required to be completed and signed by you and your parents.
$500 Refundable Deposit
A $500 refundable deposit is required along with your application. You have the option to pay the deposit with a credit card or check payable to “AHIF.” Students selected for participation will have 5-business days to reply to the offer, before the offer may be made to other qualified applicants. Once you have accepted the offer the $500 check will be deposited. If you are not selected for the trip or if you cancel prior to the May 1st deadline, the $500 deposit will be refunded directly to your credit card or your check will be returned back to you. You will only lose your deposit if you were confirmed on the trip and accepted and later cancel. The $500 deposit will be returned to you after the evaluation forms and essays have been received by AHIF at the conclusion of the program.
Who is eligible?
The program is open to Greek/Cypriot American undergraduate or graduate students (rising sophomores to second-year graduate students) with a full-time enrollment status (12 credit hours per semester), and have a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA. While students who are studying political science, international relations, history, government, law and foreign affairs would benefit the most other students who have a keen interest in US-Greek-Cyprus relations will also benefit from this program.
How to Apply?
Submit all the items listed below. All items must be received by April 15, 2015 to consider an application complete. Application review begins in January; priority is given to applications received by April 15; after April 15, applications are considered on a space-available basis. Students with an expired passport or who do not have a passport should not wait until they have been accepted to the program to renew or apply for a passport.
After we have received your completed application form with all the items listed below (including the $500 deposit), you will receive an email from AHIF confirming that your application is under consideration and asking you to provide us with a date/time to schedule a phone interview. The review committee will review your application and interview report and inform you of your status (acceptance, denial) shortly after April 15th.
Check List of items to be submitted by April 15, 2015:
Submitting the application:
Please send an e-mail to Yola Pakhchanian at [firstname.lastname@example.org] with the subject line AHI STUDENT TRIP APPLICANT: [Your Name]. In a single e-mail, please attach your documents as a Microsoft Word (.doc) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files. The letters or recommendation and transcripts can be emailed directly with the subject line AHI STUDENT TRIP APPLICANT [Your Name].
ALSO, COMPLETED AND SIGNED Application forms and checks need to be mailed to:
AHIF Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus
How to make your travel arrangements?
Upon acceptance to the program a form will be emailed to you asking you to state the dates of travel and the cities that you will be traveling from. This form will be forwarded to the travel agency. The approximate cost for the round trip ticket from Washington, DC-Larnaca-Athens-back to the US is $2,400. There is an additional cost for those who pay by credit card. Those who wish to extend their stay in Greece should note that the cost for an extended trip will be higher.
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].
2015 Student Testimonials and Reflections…In their own words…
The AHIF Foreign Policy trip gave me an unforgettable learning experience, one that would have been impossible to attain from any textbook or lecture. I began the trip knowing very little of the Cyprus problem and Greek-U.S. relations, and now I can confidently say that I have a strong base of knowledge of both of these topics—from being briefed by Cypriot and Greek officials and diplomats to being in both countries and experiencing it firsthand.
Not only was this trip educational and informative, but it also reinforced my pride as a Greek-American. Learning about the social, political and economic challenges of both countries strengthened my ties and affinity towards my heritage and culture. I returned to the United States with a notebook completely filled with briefing notes, nine brilliant new friends, and a rekindled sense of philotimo for my home country, for Cyprus, and the citizens of both countries.—Zoe Andris is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology at Kenyon College in Ohio.
The American Hellenic Institute Foundation provides students with an inside look at the occupation of Cyprus and Greek-American relations in a way that no other organization can. Nick Larigakis uses his decades of experience to select enlightening speakers and alerts students to the most current issues surrounding the topics. The result is a collection of students equipped with both an in depth and up to date knowledge of Cypriot and Greek international issues and interests.—Corinne Candilis is a junior at Swarthmore College pursuing an Honors degree in Economics with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.
The AHIF Foreign Policy trip was a truly unique learning experience for me. Meeting government officials, military officers and other policymakers added a tangible dimension to the theoretical concepts I had learned about in my international relations classes during college. These decision makers gave the AHIF group invaluable insight into the challenges that face Cyprus and Greece. Visiting Greece in this time of crisis was a particularly poignant experience; I have visited Greece almost every summer since I was born, but I have never seen it in such disarray. I witnessed citizens uneasily waiting at ATMs, hoping that they would be able to withdraw money to go about their daily lives. And then I watched the passionate demonstrations at Syntagma Square, where the gathering of people in unimaginable numbers prior to the July 5th referendum was truly moving. I saw a side of Greece that I had never seen before.
And yet, perhaps the most enjoyable part of the trip was learning and growing with the diverse group of participants, whose connections to Greece and experiences with Greek culture varied immensely. Every student added a unique element to the chemistry of the group. And most importantly I’d like to thank Nick Larigakis and Georgea Polizos, whose work and commitment made the trip possible.—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 plans to enroll in Ph.D. program in the fall of 2016 and eventually pursue a professorship in the field of international relations.
Being one of ten Greek-American students chosen to represent the United States was an absolute privilege and honor for me. It was by far the most rewarding experience I have ever had the pleasure of being a part. I have never had so many emotions flood through me in such a short period of time. I felt grief when I saw Famagusta and realized that people who referred to it as a ‘ghost town’ were not exaggerating; if anything they were playing it down! I felt anger when I heard about the more than 1,000 missing Greek Cypriots whose whereabouts are unknown, yet no one, not even the United Nations, is doing anything to help bring peace and closure to the relatives of all those people. However, I also experienced great pride when I saw that despite all the struggles that Cyprus is experiencing, they are overcoming all those issues and emerging as a great partner that has so much to offer. Lastly, I am deeply grateful to AHI for exposing me to this great injustice because although I bear a responsibility as a Greek to support Hellenism, it really isn’t a matter of taking sides; it is an injustice to humanity and we owe it to ourselves to bring peace to all those affected.
Being back in Greece and seeing how functional and unaffected Athens looked gave me peace and a sense of reassurance that no matter how frightening a picture international media painted, Greece would always be able to stand on its own and overcome any struggle. Even though I did not agree with some of the policies the government was implementing or how the people reacted with uprising and public gatherings at the heart of Athens, it gave me a great sense of pride and honor, dare I say, to be present at such an historical moment and be able to witness democracy happening in the same country that gave birth to it.—Kristina Demolli is a senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as a double major in Human Biology and Economics.
The AHIF Foreign Policy Trip is an incredible experience for any Greek-American. The work that AHIF is doing is of paramount importance to Greeks and philhellenes everywhere. Going abroad and being exposed to the foreign political apparatus of Greece showed me a side of the country that you rarely see on summer vacation on the islands. I cannot recommend this program highly enough, and would have every young Greek-American participate if it were possible.—Orlando Economos is a junior at Tufts University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Film Studies.
The AHIF Foreign Policy trip to Greece and Cyprus was a truly profound experience. We are currently living in an age that is overflowing with information, but often lacking in authentic insight. The AHIF trip was not only tremendously effective in teaching delegates about policy, but a transformative experience that allowed students to gain a deeper perspective and greater self-realization. From visiting the occupied area and the city of Famagusta, which has been abandoned since 1974, to engaging in a dialogue with the President of Greece during a historic time not only for Greece but for the entirety of Europe, the trip gave the delegates rare lifetime experiences and opportunities. We are all incredibly grateful for how AHIF has empowered us as young leaders, and it is our duty to use these experiences to help us shape the kind of world that we seek.—Elias Gerasoulis is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania (Upenn) majoring in history and government with a focus on pre-law.
The AHIF Foreign Policy trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Every Greek-American has pride for, and a sense of what it means to be Greek-American. The AHIF trip succeeded in bringing these people together in their ancestors’ land and enhancing their overall experience and sense of what it means to be Greek-American.
Mostly everyone connects with their heritage through the customs, traditions, religion and overall culture of that heritage. But the AHIF trip was able to go beyond that and give Greek-Americans the opportunity to connect with their heritage in a deeper way. Being able to go to Greece and Cyprus and learn about the modern-day foreign policy of two nations with rich histories put a new spin on my view of my favorite region. I had already known the history, the democracy, the independence, the various occupations and much more. But now I am able to look at Greece and Cyprus as modern-day states and understand how they operate in the world in which I live, today.—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.
Before embarking on the AHIF Foreign Policy trip, I was skeptical of how much I was going to learn, having already spent extensive time in Greece. The ability to feel immersed in contemporary Greek issues, however, took my understanding of my Hellenic identity to a new level. I feel more connected to modern Hellas, and feel that I can truly serve as an advocate for Hellenic issues in my own communities. That is the greatest gift I received through my AHIF Foreign Policy trip experience, and I’m excited for more Greek American college students to feel the same way.—Niko Piperis is a junior from Omaha, Nebraska pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Philosophy at Boston College.
I will always cherish the opportunity I had to discuss the Greek crisis with those that are taking the crisis by the horns at this very difficult time. It's one thing to read about it on CNN or Huffington Post, and another actually to be in Syntagma Square speaking with influential individuals.—Peter Tsetsekos is a pre-junior at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, in Philadelphia, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.
This trip to Greece and Cyprus was one of the most important experiences of my life. As a Greek American, I knew something of the issues facing Greece from discussions at family dinners, but seeing everything first-hand was life changing. This trip provided us with the opportunity to see first-hand what documentaries and textbooks cannot fully describe or explain. I cannot describe the feeling in my heart when I saw the desecrated churches and cemeteries and the effect the occupation has had on the people of Cyprus. I listened in horror to the reports of the missing persons even years after the illegal invasion by Turkey.
The timing of our trip also provided us with the opportunity to see history in the making in Athens. From our hotel room, we watched the rallies in Syntagma Square. We experienced the long lines of people waiting, trying to get just a little bit of money from the bank. Just enough to help them survive for the week. Meeting the President of Greece and listening to his plea to America, through us, Greek American students, was a lesson in politics that you cannot learn in the classroom. I’ve always known that I wanted to use my majors of Political Science and Strategic Communication to help a cause that I believed in. This trip helped me realize that I want to use my talents to fight human rights abuses such as I experienced on Cyprus. Finally, this trip gave me the opportunity to meet some extraordinary individuals. Although each of us, the participants, came from different backgrounds and had different majors, we shared the fact that we were proud Greek Americans who all felt passionate about what we learned.—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.
American Hellenic Institute Foundation, Inc. (AHIF), established in 1975, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt educational and research organization devoted exclusively to the study of the issues confronting the Greek American community. From our Hellenic House headquarters, just steps from the White House, AHIF’s professional staff works to advance the best interests of the U.S. on issues of importance to Greek Americans.
For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at email@example.com. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.
2016 Foreign Policy Study Trip