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AHIF’s Foreign Policy Students Embark for Greece, Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Georgea Polizos
June 20, 2014—No. 37 (202) 785-8430

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 sixth year as students from across the United States gathered for briefings in Washington before departing for Cyprus on June 20, 2014. The two-week program concludes July 4, 2014, 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 2014 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 18, the students assembled at AHI’s Hellenic House in Washington for a briefing by AHI President Nick Larigakis and AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas.  They attended a congressional briefing hosted by the Hellenic Caucus that featured Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Christos Panagopoulos, at which several U.S. representatives attended on Capitol Hill.  They also met Consul General of Cyprus Neophytos Constantinou and Congressional Liaison Eleftheria Aristotelous at the Embassy of Cyprus. In the evening, Berit and Steve Veletsis hosted dinner at their home in Alexandria, Virginia.

A full day of briefings from top legislators and diplomats on the issues were held on June 20.  In the morning, the students received briefings from Senior Cyprus Desk Officer Amy Dove, Senior Greece Desk Officer Davida Baxter, and Daniel Lawton, deputy director, Office of Southern European Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. They also met with Ambassador Panagopoulos, Deputy Chief of Mission Sofia Philippidou and First Counselor Antonis Papakostas for a briefing at the Embassy of Greece. In addition, Christine Brennan of USA Today, provided a media training presentation to the students. In the afternoon they learned about the latest on Capitol Hill pertaining to Greek American issues from U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, co-chair, Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and Elizabeth Hittos, chief of Staff, and Jeremy Pederson, legislative assistant, Office of U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). Congressman Bilirakis was expected to speak to the students, however, votes for the Republican leadership became scheduled preventing his participation.

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.

Student Participants

Alexandra VeletsisAlexandra Veletsis will begin her sophomore year in the fall of 2014 at the University of Miami pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies with a Spanish Language Minor. She hopes to obtain a summer internship in the DC Metropolitan area and is interested in a semester of study abroad. Alexandra is a member of Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority and is fluent in the Greek language. She hopes the AHI Foundation study abroad program will enhance her knowledge of global governance and provide her with a unique perspective on Greece and Cyprus as it relates to foreign policy issues.  

Christina MetaxasChristiana Metaxas is a junior pursuing a double-major in Linguistics and French at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She is on the executive board of her university's chapter of Phi Sigma Iota, the International Foreign Language Honor Society and has just completed a semester in the French Honors Program at the Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, France. She also has studied in Spain and Greece. As an intern at the American Hellenic Institute, Metaxas helped organize AHI’s Capitol Hill presentation on the illegal Turkish invasion of Cyprus. She has been on the Dean's list each of her semesters at Binghamton, serves as a tour guide for the admissions department and was a consultant in the university’s Public Speaking Skills Lab. She looks forward to gaining a greater understanding of the political climate in the United States, Greece, and Cyprus by studying their foreign policies. She hopes to use that knowledge in an international career.

Evan FrohmanEvan Frohman is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, Legal Studies and Economics at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. On campus, he serves as an NU Senator, lobbying for student’s rights and is a member of a fraternity. The past two summers he has spent interning in a District Attorney’s office and going to Greece to visit his family. His grandfather, a former military commander and current think-tank member, has exposed him to Hellenic issues; his current focus, the Smyrneans’ Association, is on the 1922 events in Smyrna, which have parallels to 1974 Cyprus. “Through the years of Greek school at our parish, and recently through the efforts of the NY Chapter of the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture, I have studied Greek language and history, poetry and culture. Greece has been part of my life. I want to continue learning about my heritage and the politics concerning my home country, and in time be able to contribute through participation in politics, think-tanks or lobbying organizations to help shape foreign affairs in a manner that benefits both countries,” Evan said.

2014harold jacobsenHarry Jacobsen is a rising junior at University of South Carolina pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Growing up with a father in the United States Navy, Harry has lived on a variety of naval bases that helped spark his interest in international politics and national security. He has concentrated his studies primarily on foreign affairs and has examined East Asian politics and Russian foreign policy. His grandfather, a Greek from Istanbul, Turkey and graduate of Halki seminary, immigrated to America in the 1950s for religious freedom and social equality. Harry recognizes his grandfather as the greatest influence on his Orthodox faith, proud Greek heritage and desire to serve the Greek community. He grew up involved in his church attending Greek school and Greek dance practices while also serving as an active member of GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth of America) from 2007-2012.  Currently, he is a member of YAL at his church in Columbia, South Carolina and helped regenerate Orthodox Christian Fellowship at the University of South Carolina. He currently serves as the Vice President of OCF, while being an active member in his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. “To experience an opportunity like the foreign policy trip will truly provide me with a wealth of knowledge that I could not gain elsewhere. A first-hand view of the political process will benefit my learning and increase my appreciation of Hellenic culture and Greek Orthodoxy. I hope this trip will improve my knowledge of United States relations with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey and encourage me to continue a career path that focuses on the politics between these countries,” Jacobsen said.

Matthew MoramarcoMatthew Moramarco is a native of Andover, Massachusetts and a rising senior at the University of Arizona. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Urban & Regional Development in the School of Geography and Development with a thematic minor in Management Strategies. Matt’s future plans include a career in either construction management and real estate development, or equities and wealth management. Past endeavors include co-founding a successful seasonal business and an internship at Morgan Stanley. Matt has wanted to travel to Greece for as long as he can remember and looks forward to the unmatched opportunity the AHI Foundation study abroad program offers for first-hand insights into the political and cultural climates in Greece and Cyprus. “I’ve always been interested in history and cultural studies and I’m incredibly grateful to have the chance to learn more about the land of my ancestors and to become a more well-informed Greek American,” Matt said.

Paulina LikosPaulina Likos is a rising junior at Villanova University pursuing a double major in Political Science and Spanish with a concentration in Communication. At Villanova, Paulina is active in the community.  She served as a translator and interpreter for Villanova law school students and their Hispanic clients. This summer, she is working on several political campaigns, including congressional, senatorial, and gubernatorial campaigns. Paulina’s identity is shaped by her Greek heritage and culture. She enjoys and is passionate about spreading Greek culture through the Hellenic Society at Villanova. “It is important to spread awareness and promote understanding of the Cyprus problem in order to reach a solution in the region. I believe the AHIF Foreign Policy Trip will be a great experience in learning firsthand how foreign policy is made and become more familiar with the historical and political conflicts that shape US-Greece-Cyprus relations,” Paulina said.

Peter MiliosPeter Milios is a junior at Florida State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in both International Affairs and Political Science with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. He served as an intern for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican Party of Florida, and former Florida Senate President Tom Lee during his first two years in college. He is a member of the Florida State University Honors Student Association and was elected to the Student Government Senate in the summer of 2014. His future plans include being appointed as a lobbyist for Florida State’s student body in the Florida Legislature. Upon graduation, Peter has career aspirations to one day serve in diplomacy towards Southeastern Europe and the Middle East for the U.S. government. “Nothing can match the experience and knowledge an individual receives from hands-on work in the field. I hope to achieve a greater educational understanding of the issues that Greece and Cyprus face and how the United States, or even myself as an individual, can help alleviate those problems. I hope to gain real world knowledge on political meetings with global and diplomatic consequences. This is an extremely unique opportunity that I could not be afforded in a classroom at Florida State University or in any internship setting here in America. I believe that this trip will simultaneously help to further my career in the realm of government and bring me up to date with the real life, everyday problems Greeks and Cypriots face,” Peter said.

Tiffani WillsTiffani Katherine Wills is a rising sophomore at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, majoring in Psychology. She is fluent in Greek and French and passionate about her Greek heritage. She is a member of the Alpha Phi sorority Beta Mu chapter at the University of Alabama. Tiffani began competition team dance at age six, winning numerous awards and recognition at local, regional and national competitions. Today she continues to dance in college as a member of the Crimson Cabaret dance team. She served as GOYA president for two years at Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, in Falls Church, Virginia and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in West Virginia. “I feel very fortunate to be able to participate on this trip so I can broaden my knowledge on U.S.-Greece foreign policy and the current economic and social issues affecting Greece’s economic recovery efforts,” Tiffani said.  She plans to study in Paris her junior year.

Zacharo Diamanto GialamasZacharo Diamanto Gialamas is a rising senior at the George Washington University, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Creative Writing. She has lived in Greece (Athens and Thessaloniki) since she was eight years old. She has worked at the Embassy of Greece in Washington, D.C. and is currently interning at Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily newspaper in Athens, Greece. She has also written several articles for The Daily Caller, an online newspaper in Washington, D.C. She has traveled the world extensively, including: Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Palestine, Qatar, Turkey and the United States. In the future, she hopes to become a journalist and a short-story writer. “A famous quote says, ‘Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.’ I have written and documented most of my experiences, and I plan on continuing this for any place I go. I want to share the knowledge I acquire from these experiences and show them through my writing,”  Zacharo said.  

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.

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For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected] For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org and follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC