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News > Alumni News > From Model UN to the Halls of the European Union and the European Commission

From Model UN to the Halls of the European Union and the European Commission

Two Alumni Building on the Foundation That Started at ACS Athens
Panayiotis Floros and Venetia Chatzidaki representing Greece and ACS Athens
Panayiotis Floros and Venetia Chatzidaki representing Greece and ACS Athens

For Venetia Chatzidaki, ACS Athens was her second home from 2004 until 2018, when she graduated. Although she stretched herself in the IB program and through numerous activities, including Model UN, Debate, and “ΚΟΙΝΩΝΟΣ” (Kinonόs), the ACS Athens service group dedicated to helping those in need, she always considered the school as her comfort zone.

Poised with a passion for social justice, Venetia utilized her talent for analysis and communication as the chair for all of the Model UN conferences hosted by ACS Athens, which is when she got to know Panayiotis “Otis” Floros.  In Model UN, the two internationally-minded students researched, presented and debated as part of the delegation that traveled to Qatar to represent ACS Athens. 

Even though his time at ACS Athens was brief given that his parents’ careers demanded the family move to Australia, Panayiotis Floros looks back at the two years he attended ACS Athens from 2014-2016 as a short time that made a big impression. Not only are some of his fondest school memories from ACS Athens, but he also felt like attending ACS Athens set him up for success as he finished high school in Australia where he felt better prepared for the IB program with more proficiency in writing, math and physics than local classmates.

“I have attended many schools, and ACS Athens is one of the best school experiences, in terms of feeling welcome, experiencing so many cultures and seeing them come together - both students and teachers alike,” he explained. 

Looking back at her time at ACS Athens, Venetia recognizes the importance of soft skills that were shaped both as part of the academic program, but also the extracurricular activities offered. She encourages students to take these opportunities to go above and beyond because they are tremendous learning opportunities. Yet, of all the skills she learned, one unique quality stands out. 

“The competitive advantage for ACS Athens students is the sense of responsibility,” she explains. 

“The level of responsibility prepared us for university and beyond. Responsibility to ourselves, to our work and to others,” Otis noted, agreeing with Venetia during our virtual group conversation. “These are skills that get stronger when you learn and practice them early like we did at ACS Athens. ACS Athens laid the foundation for us, reminding us to do our part to contribute to make a change.” 

Although separated by distance, the spirit of conscious citizenship continued to inspire them both after high school graduation. 

Venetia earned her Bachelor of Arts in European Studies and Master’s degree in European Public Affairs from Maastricht University. While at university, she built on the lessons in conscious citizenship from ACS Athens by co-founding the nonprofit POP Boutique, where POP stands for People Over Profit. The nonprofit boutique sells second-hand clothing and sends 100% of profits to Samos Volunteers, an NGO in Greece, dedicated to refugees.

Otis fostered his interest in bringing people together throughout his later high school years in Australia where he volunteered at the Greek Embassy.  He earned his Bachelor of International Relations and his Masters in Diplomacy from the Australian National University. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when Venetia and Otis were quarantined on two different sides of the world, with opposite time zones, the two alumni found a unique way to navigate and thrive amidst the uncertainty with each other’s support. The two empowered and supported each other by taking a Georgetown University course online, which not only enriched their knowledge but also strengthened their friendship. They look back at that course as a symbol of resilience, productivity and adaptability during those challenging times. 

Since then, Otis transformed his studies into a blossoming career, first by joining the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN in Geneva and later through the Blue Book Traineeship at the European Commission, which led him to his current role as Interim European Commission Finance Officer at the European Innovation Council and SME’s Executive Agency (EISMEA)

After leaving Geneva, his role brought him to Brussels, which is where he coincidentally crossed paths with Venetia, in-person this time, when she was also in Brussels applying for internships as part of finishing her Master’s degree. He encouraged her through the arduous application process, reminding her to not be discouraged at the thought of rejection since she’d only need one offer to come through. Ultimately, Venetia was selected for a traineeship at the Permanent Representation of Greece to the European Union working in the Enlargement, External Relations, Common Foreign and Security Policy Unit that concluded this past summer. She is now a junior consultant at Logos, a public affairs consultancy, where she works in the space of defense, space and aviation.

Almost a decade later, the friendship that started at ACS Athens still connects the two alums, who happen to reside in the same building in Brussels.  Lucky for them, there are a few cafes that offer the necessary freddo cappuccinos to fuel their growing careers, but they both are quick to share that Greek cuisine is always better in Greece. 

Both Venetia and Otis are shining examples of the thoughtful young leaders that come from within the ACS Athens community and the reason we are honored to celebrate our alumni.

In addition to celebrating and uniting our alumni through ACS Athens Global Alumni, we look forward to honoring alumni, including the winners of the ACS Athens Alumni Achievement Awards at the ACS Athens Gala on November 4, 2023 at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens.


Your support and attendance will make the difference as we gather to build on our legacy and forge the future for ACS Athens.

Click HERE to learn more about the 2023 ACS Athens Gala and purchase tickets. 

We hope to see you there!


Already bought your tickets?

Help us spread the word by telling fellow alumni “see you there” with a fun photo or video on social media.

Simply add the hashtag #SeeYouThere and tag us (@ACSAthensGlobalAlumni) on Facebook so we can join in on the fun.

 

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