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College Students Intern at AHI in Washington, DC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
September 24, 2007—No. 56 (202) 785-8430

College Students Intern at AHI in Washington, DC

In the summer months of 2007, the American Hellenic Institute was fortunate to have four remarkable interns in its midst—four bright minds just waiting to become policy activists. Elena Papademetriou, Krista Jodoin, Alex LaBua, and Vasiliki Tsombanos spent their summer working to help further Greek American causes in the interests of the United States.

Elena Papademetriou is a rising junior at St. Mary's College of Maryland, majoring in English. Her parents, Dr. Vasillis and Theresa Papademetriou, moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC from Greece and Cyprus in the late 70s. Growing up a mere fifteen minutes outside the nation's capital, Elena developed a very strong political outlook. Because her parents are avid members of AHI and other Greek American organizations, Elena decided to put her interest in politics and her affection for Greece to better use than just dinner table discussions and college essays.

During her internship at AHI, Elena helped to compile the Chronology of Events in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus from 2004 through 2006. In only her first week at AHI, she was able to attend a briefing with Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in regards to the FYROM debate. She researched Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) documents at the Department of Justice on registered foreign agents working for Turkey. She also went to the Capitol Hill to seek co-sponsorship for H. Res. 373 regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate, H.RES. 356 regarding FYROM and House Bill H.R. 1456 and Senate Bill S. 695 on American-Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act. She attended several other briefings with US Congressmen on the Hill and lectures given by foreign authorities in the area.

"I had a great time at AHI," Elena said, "and it's definitely been one of my most rewarding experiences. I've learned so much and am really glad I was able to help the cause." Elena plans to get a Masters Degree in Linguistics and Literature and pursue a career in editing. She plans to remain involved in the political world and trusts that the knowledge she gained from her experience at AHI will continue to aid her later in life.

Krista Jodoin is a rising senior at the University of Maryland with a major in Government and Politics and a minor in Italian. Krista's mother is from Athens, and her father was in the US Navy, stationed in Crete, where they lived for several years of her youth. Upon her return to the US, Krista continued rigorous Greek language and dance classes throughout high school.

The pride Krista feels in her Greek heritage is what drove her to apply for an internship at the AHI. "Working here this summer has been an educational and eye-opening experience," she noted on her summer internship. "The research I've done here has deepened my understanding of U.S.-Greek and Cypriot relations."

Among the projects she worked on were the chronology of events of U.S.-Greek relations and attended AHI events, which has given her a glimpse at what methods Greek Americans can employ to reach their goals in the interests of the U.S. She ventured to Capitol Hill to contact Congressmen and Senators seeking for co-sponsorship for H. Res. 373 Regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate, H.RES. 356 Regarding FYROM and House Bill H.R. 1456 and Senate Bill S. 695 on American-Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act. She also attended a briefing with Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) regarding the recent Turkish elections. "This internship has given me a rare opportunity to experience firsthand what it's like in the realm of politics," she said.

After graduation, Krista plans to travel to Italy to teach English before pursuing a career in International Affairs.

Alex LaBua is entering his third year at George Washington University in Washington D.C. and is pursuing a major in International Affairs, concentrating on Europe and Eurasia with a minor in Spanish. His mother emigrated from Athens in the 1980s and they now live in Chatham, New Jersey.

Alex was referred to AHI through the internship in the Greek Embassy's press office during his sophomore year at GW. Alex's duties at AHI have included compiling AHI's Congressional Contact Leadership Team database and the Congressional Co-sponsorship list of Congressmen and Senators for the past decade, and monitoring daily news events related to Greek-American affairs. Alex attended a lecture at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars by Dr. Athanasios Moulakis an Adjunct Scholar for the Southeast Europe Project who spoke on "Europe and the Middle East: The Greek Juncture." He also attended the conference on "A Search for a Roadmap to Peace in the Balkans," hosted by the Pan-Macedonian Association , Inc. in cooperation with the American Hellenic Institute. He was also able to participate in the "Next Generation Initiative" program which allowed him to meet and have discussions with several Greek American leaders, including former Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, Bill Antholis at the Brookings Institute, and Demetrious Papadementriou of the Migration Policy Institute.

"This experience was extremely rewarding. The work I've done corresponded so well with my major," Alex remarked. "It was never difficult to be interested in what I was doing." Alex will be studying in Spain in the fall of 2007 and will continue to work in support of Greek-American affairs upon his return.

Vasiliki Tsombanos recently earned her B.A. from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA, where she majored in International Relations and Russian. She is a first generation Greek American from Wethersfield, Connecticut, where her parents emigrated to from Lemnos. Her passion for her culture has been fostered through annual trips to Greece with her family and her language skills are attributed to her eight years of study at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in Hartford, CT. She also conducted extensive independent research at her University related to ethnic identity and the Cyprus issue.

Her duties at AHI have included monitoring the daily press and legislation in Congress, and writing several memoranda. Before arriving at AHI, Vasiliki served as an intern at the office of Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) and as a Commercial Service Assistant at the American Embassy in Athens, Greece. She was also active in Bucknell University's International Relations program as a teacher's assistant for the Freshman Foundation Seminar, "The Modern World System." She plans to obtain her master's degree and pursue a career in international relations.

"My time at the American Hellenic Institute has been a truly rewarding supplement to my academic and life experiences," Vasiliki said of her internship at AHI. "AHI's causes benefit from the dedication and compassion of its staff and it has been wonderful to help. I encourage anyone interested in making a difference to look to AHI as a source of inspiration; it is proof that even a small group of individuals can make significant advances and its influence can only stand to grow through broader support."

Vasiliki has accepted the position of Office Manager at AHI and will continue her stay for the next year.

AHI was also instrumental in placing an intern at the Cyprus Embassy in Washington, DC. Chris Symeonides is a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, where he earned a degree in Government with a focus in International Relations. He is the son of Greek and Greek Cypriot immigrants, born in Louisiana but making his current home in Salem, Oregon. Chris spent most of his time working in the Press Office at the Cyprus Embassy, researching the various mentions of Cyprus in the media. He also helped compile a comprehensive index of Cyprus-related legislation in the U.S. Congress, among numerous other tasks. Chris is taking some time off right now, but is planning on eventually pursuing a career in law, unless his passion for music gets the best of him.

For more information on the AHI internship program you may refer to the AHI Web site at www.ahiworld.org or contact Yola Pakhchanian via email at [email protected].

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For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.