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AHIF’s Foreign Policy Students to Visit Greece, Cyprus at Historic Times for Both Countries
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Demetra Atsaloglou
June 15, 2012—No. 40 (202) 785-8430

AHIF’s Foreign Policy Students to Visit Greece, Cyprus at Historic Times for Both Countries

Students Receive First-hand Foreign Policy Experience about the Region in Program’s Fourth Year

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) College Student Foreign Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus begins its fourth year as students from across the United States gathered for briefings in Washington before departing for Cyprus on Friday, June 15, 2012. The two-week program concludes June 29, 2012, when the students return from Athens.

On Wednesday, June 13, the students assembled at AHI’s Hellenic House in Washington for a briefing by AHI President Nick Larigakis and AHI Legal Counsel and Board of Directors Secretary Nick Karambelas. They also met with Thalia Assuras, former CBS News correspondent, who provided a media training presentation to the students. 

On Thursday, June 14, the students attended a breakfast and briefing with Dan Mariaschin, executive vice president, B’nai B’rith International at the organization’s headquarters. They also had an audience with Sophia Philippidou, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Greece and Ambassador Pavlos Anastasiades, ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. In the afternoon, the participants attended a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution titled, “The Greek Election and the Future of the Euro.” Among the featured panelists was former American Ambassador to Greece Daniel V. Speckhard, who is a nonresident senior fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. Their busy day ended with a briefing at the State Department held with Lindsay Coffey, senior Cyprus desk officer and Christopher Snipes, senior Greek desk officer. In addition, they met with Ambassador Tom Miller, former U.S. Ambassador to Greece, president & CEO, International Executive Service Corps (IESC) for an informational session.

During the two-week program, the students will be in Greece for a historic election and in Cyprus just prior to it taking the helm of the EU Presidency on July 1. They 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.

Student Participants

Stephanos Karavas is a rising senior at the Tufts University School of Arts and Sciences, majoring in History (with a concentration in the Middle East) and minoring in Political Science (with a concentration in Foreign Policy Analysis). He is currently the president of the New Initiative for Middle East Peace, a student-administered, non-polemical think-tank at the Tufts-affiliated Institute for Global Leadership. He has been a participant of undergraduate research delegations to Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia where he has researched women's political rights and post-authoritarian constitution-making.

Anna Tsiotsias is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics with a concentration in Government and Public Policy. She is president of the Hellenic Student Association and sits on the board of the University of Pennsylvania parliamentary debate team. Anna also conducts research on civility in the U.S. Congress at the Annenberg Center for Public Policy. She also contributes to FlackCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy which uses parody and humor to debunk false political advertising, poke fun at extreme language, and hold the media accountable for their reporting on political campaigns. Last summer, she interned at the National Women’s Political Caucus in Washington, D.C. She is looking forward to the unique experience that the American Hellenic Institute Foreign Policy Trip will provide. Anna hopes to strengthen her knowledge about the issues facing the region by talking to different political officials, learning more about the political and economic climates in Greece and Cyprus, and getting to visit the locations policy decisions are made. She also plans to use the knowledge and experience gained from the foreign policy trip as a foundation for her senior thesis and further independent research. Anna aspires to attend law school after graduation.

Maria Romas is a junior at the University of Maryland attending the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism. She is also a member of the College Park Scholars’ Media, Self and Society program and attends weekly seminars discussing the future of media and its place in the world. Maria is the opinion editor for The Diamondback, University of Maryland’s award-winning paper following a year-and-a-half as a reporter. She was a 2011 Athens Fellow for the Reinventing Greece Media Project and spent three weeks during summer 2011 in Athens interviewing and reporting on people and situations there. Over the summer, she has an internship position at USA Today’s “Money” section. Along with her experience in editing — Maria loves to correct people’s grammar and sentence structure — she loves to write. Writing is what lured her to the field of journalism and any opportunity to write is exciting to her. Maria is active in the Greek American community as a member of the University of Maryland’s Greek Heritage Society and is beginning a young-adult Greek dance troupe. She grew up among a flurry of Greek activity and refuses to give up on it.

Originally from Houston, Alexis Angelo is a senior at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Political Science. Alexis also is working to earn a concentration on the Middle East, and since 2003, she has served as a research assistant helping to build a Syrian database of terms, events and people related to Syria. She has served with the San Antonio Family Service Association as a field researcher analyzing and assessing Head Start’s effects on the process of self-sufficiency for refugee families. Alexis is a member of the Mortar Board Honor Society and the Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. She is also co-founder of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship at Trinity University. “I have studied Middle Eastern relations with the United States during my time as an undergraduate, and I am thrilled to now be able to expand that knowledge to Greece and Cyprus as well. I hope the policy trip will provide the knowledge and experience to determine what I want to do in the field of international relations, especially pertaining to Greece.”

Christo Galanis was raised as a Greek American in Mexico City. He attended the Pomfret School in Connecticut and is now a senior at Rutgers University where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry while also pursuing a Master’s in Business and Science. He has researched medical breakthroughs in addition to having been invited to attend national leadership forums. Christo plans to contribute internationally to the field throughout his career. "Attending the AHI Foreign Policy Trip will help me to envision the type of work I could do for Greece and Cyprus in the future," he said. "The process of policy, the exploration, the social consciousness, the contact with my peers and officials in the field, makes me passionate about the future of Hellenism."

Evangelia Psarakis is a junior at Rutgers University. She is a member of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program and is majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in Comparative and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. Next year she will be applying to the Rutgers Graduate School of Education to pursue a Master’s in Special Education, Elementary Education, as well as Secondary Social Studies Education. She hopes to become a teacher and get involved with public policy regarding education reform after graduation. This year, Evangelia received the Rutgers Academic Excellence Award for being in the top ten percent of her class. She recently gained acceptance into the Lloyd G. Gardner Fellowship in Leadership and Social Policy, which focuses on crucial issues of global significance and prepares students for lives of service and leadership as scholars, policy analysts, and engaged citizens. Evangelia hopes that she can apply what she learns on the AHI Foreign Policy trip to Greece and Cyprus this summer to her honors seminar and thesis for the Gardner Fellowship. She is very excited to embark on this unique journey with her fellow AHI scholars.

Manoli Anagnostiadis, a rising sophomore in the Honors College at the University of Maryland-College Park, is a double-degree candidate in Government & Politics and History with declared minors in Astronomy and Religious Studies. An Eagle Scout, Manoli is active in his church and community and is currently serving as co-chairman of the Parish Host Committee for the 2012 St. John Chrysostom National Oratorical Festival of the Archdiocese of America. After completing his undergraduate work, he plans to continue his studies either in law or graduate school. As Manoli said, "I am very excited about this opportunity to study foreign policy first-hand in lands to which I am tied with deep spiritual and cultural bonds.  One of my long-term goals is to be active in the arena of international relations on behalf of one or more of the three entities to which I have a profound allegiance: the Greek culture, the American nation and the Orthodox Church.  Opportunities, like the one being afforded me by the AHIF Foreign Policy trip, will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the issues that are relevant and important to the land of my ancestors and begin my first-hand exposure to the workings of foreign policy itself."

Aletha Vassilakis is a rising senior at University of California, San Diego, studying Political Science with a focus on International Relations and a minor in Biology. She was accepted into the political science honors thesis program in the upcoming year and plans to focus her research on the current economic crisis in Greece. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies, she plans to study international law and work with governments and nongovernment entities on solving some of the international issues. “The AHI Foreign Policy Study Trip will help prepare me for these future plans and help broaden my knowledge on international disputes that I hope to help solve.”

Andrew M. Pernokas is a rising junior at Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences. He will receive a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in International Relations/Pre-Law. His interest in politics and government began at a young age but started to take form in middle school where he started the debate team and wrote for the school newspaper. During his freshman year at Boston University, Andrew ran for Selectman for the town of Wellesley, the youngest candidate in town history. His campaign strategy focused on reaching out to as many voters as possible through personal telephone calls and conversations. Although he lost by a slim margin of about 150 votes to two incumbents and political veterans, the experience was unlike any other. Andrew’s desire to learn about local and national politics has deepened. He is a member of the International Affairs Association (IAA) at Boston University where he discusses international foreign policy and security issues. “The AHI Foreign Policy trip to Greece and Cyprus will provide great insight into what Winston Churchill once said, ‘The Balkans create more history than they can consume.’ In other words, I hope to understand a crucial part of a region that has been a driving factor in foreign policy, security, and diplomacy,” Pernokas said.

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) 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.

 

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For additional information, please contact Demetra Atsaloglou at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.