WASHINGTON, DC – The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) College Student Foreign Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus begins its 14th year as students from across the United States gathered for briefings in Washington, DC, June 14-16, prior to departing for Cyprus. The 17-day program concludes July 1, when the students return from Athens.
“Through our AHI Foundation, we are pleased and proud to welcome the community’s next generation of leaders on our fourteenth annual college student foreign policy trip,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said. “This is an invaluable opportunity for these exceptional students 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 hit the ground running with briefings in Washington, then on to high-level meetings with government officials and community leaders abroad, all as developments in the region occur at a rapid pace.
On June 14, the students visited the Embassy of Greece to receive a briefing from Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou, before enjoying an evening reception at Hellenic House.
On June 15, the students visited Capitol Hill for a meeting with U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), co-chair, Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), who is the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic Israeli Alliance. They gained further insight on foreign policy trends and the innerworkings of policy formulation from Washington Insider, John Sitilides, principal, Trilogy Advisors; Doug Bandow, senior fellow, Cato Institute; and Gregory Graves, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at The George Washington University.
On their last full day in Washington, June 16, the students visited the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus to receive a briefing from Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Marios Lysiotis. Afterward, they visited the U.S. Department of State and received briefings from foreign service officials at the agency’s Office of Southern European Affairs, including: Greek Desk Officers Dave Mendez and Shawn O’Donnell, Sophia Berhie, Cyprus Desk officer; and Alice Shukla, Hellenic and Regional Affairs Desk officer. Prior to lunch, the students also received a presentation from Andrew R. Novo, associate professor of Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.
During the two-week program in Greece and Cyprus, the students will receive firsthand 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 of each country, including Foreign Affairs and Defense; military officers and parliament members, religious leaders, think-tank organizations, and members of academia and the private sector. In Greece, the students will also take a daytrip to visit Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, Crete, where they will tour the NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) and NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center (NMIOTC), as well as Salamis Naval Base, and receive briefings.