Students to 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 eighth year as students from across the United States gathered for briefings in Washington before departing for Cyprus, June 17, 2016. The two-week program concludes when the students return from Athens, Greece, July 1, 2016.
“The AHI Foundation continues to be proud to offer this invaluable opportunity to the community’s promising students,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said. “The 2016 program will be a fruitful one for our students as they are eager to learn about the foreign policy issues that are important to the Greek American community and to 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 15, the students assembled at AHI’s Hellenic House in Washington for a briefing by President Larigakis. In the afternoon, they were briefed by Ambassador Tom Miller, former U.S. ambassador to Greece and current chief executive officer of International Executive Service Corps. In addition, they learned about the latest on Capitol Hill pertaining to Greek American issues from Jeremy Pederson, Legislative Counsel and Liz Hittos, Chief of Staff for Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and his co-chair, caucus founder Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
A full day of briefings from top legislators and diplomats on the issues were held June 16. In the morning, the students met with Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Harris Lalacos at the Embassy of Greece and Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Leonidas Pantelidis at the Embassy of Cyprus. The students also had the opportunity to meet with Diana Doukas, director, White House Business Council at the White House; and they visited the State Department to meet with: Larina Konold, Cyprus desk officer, and Amy Reichert, Greek desk officer. In the afternoon, Paul Glastris, editor, Washington Monthly, made a presentation to the students.
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. In Greece, the students will also take a day-trip to visit Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, Crete, where they will tour the NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) and receive a briefing.
Allie Martin is a rising sophomore at Boston University in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is currently working toward a Bachelor of Arts in History and International Relations with a focus on foreign policy in Europe as well as a minor in Modern Greek Studies. She worked as a peer tutor in Modern Greek at the Education Resource Center at Boston University and received the Modern Greek Award for 2016 from the Classics Department. She is also a Dean’s Host for the College of Arts and Sciences, where she works closely with the dean to promote the college to incoming students and their families. Allie hopes to gain first-hand experience in foreign policy from this trip as she considers pursuing a career in Foreign Service.
Anastasia Kourtis graduated magna cum laude from Boston University in May 2015 with a B.A. in Classical Studies and Anthropology and a minor in Modern Greek. In the fall, Anastasia will attend Boston College Law School. During her time at BU, Anastasia served as founding Vice President and President of the Boston University Philhellenes, a student organization with a mission to promote the ideals and appreciation of Hellenism, both ancient and modern, within the BU and greater Boston communities. Currently, Anastasia works as an intern for the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair, Senator Karen Spilka. She also serves as the chairperson of the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival at the St. Demetrios parish in Weston, Massachusetts. “I look forward to visiting and interacting with the people and places involved in the foreign policy issues that I became so passionate about as a proud Greek-American during my undergraduate career. I feel strongly that the U.S. should be reminded of both the historical and present day significance of Greece and Cyprus in U.S. foreign policy. I hope to bring my knowledge of Classics, Anthropology, and cultural heritage policy to contribute to the dialogue on the program” said Anastasia.
Anastasia Matiatos, an Honors student at the University of Arizona, is double majoring in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law and Fine Arts with minors in Classics and Spanish. Outside of academics, Anastasia has dedicated much of her time working to improve her community through volunteer efforts and political activism, and she currently serves as a staff member on a Congressional campaign. Anastasia is also deeply committed to maintaining and strengthening her ties to her Hellenic heritage. As a UA student, she has taken Modern Greek language courses, founded a Hellenic cultural club on campus, and helps to coordinate youth efforts with the Southern Arizona Hellenic Association. “I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to participate in the AHIF Foreign Policy Trip. I’ve grown up listening to stories of my family’s experiences in their homes of Greece and Cyprus, giving me a sense of responsibility toward and pride in my family and heritage. As an economic and political philosophy major, I’m excited for the insights and knowledge I know I’ll gain in this program.” Before graduating, Anastasia hopes to have the opportunity to study abroad in Cyprus as she surveys the political and ethnic climate of the island, and would eventually like to attend law school.
Arthur Dedoulis is a rising sophomore at the Catholic University of America pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the Busch School of Business and Economics. Arthur’s studies have made him perceptive to the complexities that go into international finance and trade. At the Catholic University, Arthur works part time at the Columbus School of Law as an office assistant to the office of Academic Affairs. In addition, he plays on his school’s Ultimate Frisbee team, sailing team, and intermural softball team. Arthur participated in GOYA throughout high school playing on the Saint Sophia basketball team and serving as an altar boy. Throughout high school and college Arthur has continuously served the communities of Northeast and Southeast Washington, DC, through numerous service opportunities. Arthur looks forward to returning to Greece to learn more about the diplomatic and political relations that go into the economic situations of both Greece and Cyprus.
Eleni M. Papageorge is a rising sophomore at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is double majoring in Speech Pathology & Audiology and Psychology, and minoring in Deaf Studies. She has always been involved in advocating for students with special needs. Currently, she is leading the effort to obtain American Sign Language housing for students, is the administrative assistant of the Autism Theater Project and an intern at Developmental Connections, a non-profit that benefits students with developmental and social disabilities. Although not directly studying government and politics, Eleni has always been interested in the subject. She is very involved in social justice issues, politics, and Hellenic activities at UVA as well a member of the College Republicans, the Hellenic Society, and is the secretary of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship. While in high school, Eleni was very involved in her home parish of The Greek Orthodox Parish of Loudoun County. She was GOYA secretary, a Greek language student, and an Oratorical Festival speaker. She cannot wait to return to Greece and learn about Greek and Cypriot issues and international relations!
Jack Dulgarian is a rising senior at the University of Arizona earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with emphasis in International Relations and minors in Business Administration and Classics/Modern Greek. Jack is an enthusiastic with a strong passion for God, family and friends. He serves his community as a Sunday school teacher and varsity high school baseball umpire in Arizona and California. He also serves as the Guardian of the Ritual for the Beta Theta Pi fraternity in Arizona. This summer, Jack is interning for Mr. Gregory Karahalios, consul general of Greece in Los Angeles, California and accompanied the deputy minister of Tourism at the 10th Annual LA Greek Film Festival. “I hope to continue a blessed life of furthering my education and self-discovery of Greek heritage. I am eager and humbled to begin a new odyssey in my life and gain a global perspective through diplomacy,” Jack said.
Kaliopi Batistas is a rising sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University pursing a major in International Studies with a focus on International Social Justice. This year she is part of both VCU athletics as well as the Tri Sigma sorority. “My freshman year allowed me to better understand the interest I have always had concerning human rights violations and their international responses. Some of my classes focused on understanding how societies around the world are interrelated on social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions, and I am eager to experience these first hand. On this trip, I am looking forward to furthering my knowledge about foreign policy and Greek politics, not only to bring me closer to my Greek heritage but to also gain knowledge and confidence that will bring depth to my current perspective. I am also eager to gain greater insight on U.S.-Greece relations as well as the ongoing Cyprus issue. I am proud and excited to be learning about my country, that even thousands of miles away, has shaped me tremendously today,” Kaliopi said.
Kelly Maria Kollias is a rising sophomore at Tufts University studying International Relations with a minor in Creative Writing/Journalism. Kelly is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, where she serves as the group’s archivist. She writes for both the school’s premier music journal, Melisma, and its leading magazine, The Observer. Kelly also writes for Tufts’ admissions blogs, where her blog posts are read by thousands of perspective students throughout the year. She also runs for Tufts Marathon Team, and is currently in training for a half marathon. In high school, Kollias hosted many fundraisers for the International Orthodox Christian Charity, and sent care packages to Greek families during the recession. In 2014, Kelly interned with lobbying firm Manatos & Manatos in Washington, D.C., where she helped organize the Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference. “The internship allowed me to meet many prominent Greek leaders, and reminded me about the importance of my heritage,” Kollias says. “It opened my eyes to what we, as millennials, can and should do to spread awareness about international crises that really hit close to home. On this trip, I hope to learn more about Greek and Cypriot foreign affairs, and use my skills as a writer to share this knowledge worldwide.”
Matt Kokkinos is a rising junior at Northeastern University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs, with a focus on international security studies and diplomacy. He competes with the Northeastern University International Relations Council in Model UN, NATO, and Arab League and has been involved with the Political Science and International Affairs Student Organization. From August to December, he will work in Legrena, Greece at the European Public Law Organization through Northeastern’s Co-op Program. Matt hopes to eventually work for the U.S. Foreign Service as a Foreign Service Officer, and he believes that the AHIF Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus, in addition to his upcoming Co-op, will give him a direct understanding of policy-making and the obstacles and successes which can accompany it. “Understanding the negotiation and creation of policy gives you the understanding of how to constantly improve it. The AHIF Foreign Policy Trip will give me the opportunity to meet with many leaders and politicians and will have a great impact on how I view the policy creation process. I believe this opportunity is simply too big to pass up,” Matt said.
Philip Bachas Daunert was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History at the University of Miami and is currently enrolled in the University of Miami’s Master’s Program in International Administration. Philip is a first-generation American with a Greek father and a Spanish mother. He developed a love for holistically understanding cultures during his childhood travels to Europe. Philip’s expectations for the AHIF Foreign Policy Trip to Greece & Cyprus is to gain first-hand knowledge on the Cyprus dispute. He is also eager to gain practical experience on how foreign policy works; both behind closed doors and in the public sphere.