UNC Chapel Hill students learned about Thai – U.S. relations
Fostering ties between Thai-U.S. youths and educating American students about Thailand and the Thai-U.S. relations, which date back 182 years, are one of the Royal Thai Embassy’s top priorities. Such efforts complement programs undertaken by the United States, including President Obama’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), which was launched in 2013 to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region and to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Southeast Asia.
On March 19, 2015, the Embassy welcomed a group of students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, participating in the Burch Field Research Seminar on Domestic and International Affairs, during their visit to Washington, D.C. The students learned with interest about Thailand and the Thai- U.S. relations through a briefing by Minister Counselor Arjaree Sriratanaban. The briefing covered an overview of the Thai history, development of the country’s democratic system, including the current national reform process aimed at building sustainable democracy and enabling Thailand to be an even stronger partner of the United States. The students also learned about the Thai economy and opportunities as ASEAN becomes the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of this year.
Also highlighted were milestones in the Thai-U.S. relations, starting from the recorded arrival of the first American in Thailand in 1818, the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833, and the fact that the King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Over the years, the Thai-U.S. relations have expanded exponentially with cooperation covering wide ranging areas, such as security and humanitarian cooperation, cultural exchange and educational programs. The students later engaged in a Q&A session seeking more insights about political developments in Thailand, the Thai economy and how Thailand has been taking care of displaced persons in the country.
The visit was initiated 11 years ago by Ambassador William H. Itoh, former U.S. Ambassador to Thailand from 1995 to 1999 and currently Professor of the Practice in the Department of Public Policy at UNC Chapel Hill. Ambassador Itoh was also awarded an honorary PhD in Economics by Khon Kaen University in Thailand, presented by His Majesty the King in December 1998, in recognition of his efforts in support of Thailand’s recovery during the Asian financial crisis.