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AHIF’s Foreign Policy Program Commences Third Year
June 13, 2011—No. 39 (202) 785-8430

AHIF’s Foreign Policy Program Commences Third Year

Students Receive First-hand Foreign Policy Experience about the Region

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) College Student Foreign Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus begins its third year as students from across the United States gather for briefings in Washington before departing for Cyprus on Friday, June 10, 2011. The two-week program concludes June 24, 2011, when the students return from Athens.

In Washington, the students gathered at AHI’s Hellenic House before going to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for a briefing with Ilona Teleki, deputy director, and Besian Boçka, program manager and research associate, New European Democracies Project.  In addition, they attended a media workshop at Quorvis Communications. They were also briefed at the Department of State by officials from the Office of Southern European Affairs: Adam Scarlatelli, Cyprus desk officer, and Christopher Snipes, senior Greece desk officer. Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus Pavlos Anastasiades and officers from the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic, including Deputy Chief of Mission Ioannis Vrailas, briefed them on U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus.

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. Although the schedule will be packed, the students will have free time to visit historic and cultural sites.

Student Participants

Irene Adamopoulos is a senior at St. Edward's University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. After graduating in December 2011 she plans to obtain a Masters of Arts degree, which focuses on Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University or Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs at American University. Currently, she is interning at the Mexican Consulate in Austin, Texas, a position she has held for a year.  Irene hopes to pursue a career in foreign affairs.

Alexi Antoniou earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California, Irvine and is working towards his Juris Doctorate at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. At McGeorge, he was selected as an International Legal Fellow and is a member of the International Law Society. In the summer of 2011 he will be attending a study abroad program through Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, where he will focus on the Cyprus problem and international dispute resolution.

Constance Baroudos received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from California State University, Fullerton where she is completing her Master of Arts in political science. She has served as treasurer of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honors Society, and is a member of Phi Beta Delta, the Honor Society for International Scholars. Her current research topics include Russian nuclear terrorism and Chinese military power. In the summer of 2011, she is working as a research assistant intern at the American Hellenic Institute.

Aspasia Bartell graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies in 2009, with a focus on the European Union. She served a four-year term as a board member on the Dale Turner Family (formerly Shoreline/South County) YMCA Board of Management, and has worked as a research assistant at the University of Washington and an intern for the International Trade Division of the Washington State Department of Commerce. She is currently a first year MBA student at the UW’s Foster School of Business with a focus on international business. This trip will help form the foundation she needs to work in international business.

Ariane Centrella is a junior at the University of Connecticut pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Dramatic Literature. In September 2011, she will begin her studies at La Sorbonne and the University of Paris, concentrating in international politics and history. Centrella also pursues undergraduate coursework in Greek language, history, culture, as well as continuing classes in French and Spanish languages. She is a member of the National Society of Leadership and the University of Connecticut Hellenic Society, and a past National Finalist of the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival, sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Her future plans include attending law school.

Yianni Floropoulos is a Graduate Student studying Law and Governance at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. Yianni serves as the Graduate Assistant to the Department of Political Science and Law at MSU where he conducts research and teaches undergraduate and assists in teaching graduate level courses. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religion and Political Science and Law from MSU. In the past he served as a member to the Intercollegiate Hellenic Society, President of MSU’s Hellenic Student Organization and founded and served as President to two distinct academic Philosophy Clubs. Currently he serves as AHEPA Chapter 300 Treasurer and Sons of Pericles District 5 Governor. Yianni has also interned and volunteered with Greece’s Permanent Mission to the UN, two congressional and senatorial campaigns, two presidential elections, and local NJ elections.

Joanna Kocani received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of "New York" Tirana majoring in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations. She is currently pursuing Certificate in Paralegal Studies at Georgetown University and serves as a research assistant intern at the American Hellenic Institute. Last year she interned at the Peace Corps in Tirana, Albania where she worked as an evaluator of Small Project Assistance Funding. She plans to attend law school in fall 2012.

Alexander LaBua received his Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University, with a major in International Affairs and minors in History and Spanish. In fall 2011, he will attend Columbia University to pursue a Master’s Degree in International Affairs at the School of International & Public Affairs. As an undergraduate at George Washington University, he has participated in past internships at the Greek Embassy, the European Institute, and on Capitol Hill. For the last year-and-a-half, he has been working in California for a startup green energy company.

Cassandra Papas is completing her second year of her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies with a minor in Education Studies at American University in Washington, DC. She is also taking Greek language classes at Georgetown University focusing her studies on Greek culture and history. Papas has been working in the DC public school system for over a year and will be studying in Ghana in the fall of 2012.

John Petsagourakis is a sophomore majoring in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) at the University of Pennsylvania with a minor in Classical Studies. His emphasis of study entails developing a comprehensive interdisciplinary perspective on world affairs, which compliments the 2011 College Student Foreign Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus. Pestagourakis graduated from Greenwich High School in the top ten percent of his class and was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. He served as president of the Habitat for Humanity Club, which has allowed him to engage in numerous fundraisers and building projects in and outside of the United States.

Margaret Skourlis is a Master of Science degree candidate studying Computer Science at Queens College. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science, a Master Degree in Business Administration, an American Bar Association Paralegal Degree, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy. She graduated the top of her MBA Class for the year 2010 receiving Beta Gamma Sigma Honor's. She is currently the Human Resources assistant at the United Nations DFF/FPD/ODCU and also served at the Department of Peacekeeping Operation for the Office of Operations ELAD/UNFICYP.

Maria Trakas is a Master of Arts candidate in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago, a Juris Doctorate candidate in Law at DePaul University College of Law, and a legal intern with the United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The nexus between the two-degree programs is a focus on international issues, which she hopes to focus on in her next career.

Anastasia (Tasa) Tserkonis is a junior at Clarke University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, pursuing her Bachelor of Sciences degree in Political Sciences with a specialty in International Relations and a concentration in Law and Society. Tasa finished her junior year as an undergraduate with First Academic Honors and has also maintained a GPA that qualifies her for Clarke University’s free accelerated master’s program in Public Administration. She is a work-study student in the President’s Office at Clarke University and also interned at AHI in Washington, DC in the fall of 2010. Her future plans include attending law school.

Nick Larigakis, the president of the American Hellenic Institute will be leading the 2011 College Student Foreign Policy Trip along with his assistant, Maria Stavrou. Stavrou graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and double majored in Government and History. She currently holds an internship position at AHI as the assistant to the Congressional Liaison and plans to attend graduate school in fall of 2012.

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.


For additional information, please contact Demetra Atsaloglou at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at