Justin Cobkit: First Week Experience by Thai-American Second Generation in Washington, DC

Justin4The Thai American National Internship Program has been a very enjoyable experience thus far.  I am privileged to have been able to take part the first time this program is being held.

There are five other students taking part in this program with me.  One student is still England and will be coming next week, so we have not met him yet.  As for the others, four of the students (myself included) have chosen to be housed at the Office of Educational Affairs of the Royal Thai Embassy.  The other student found her own housing in DC.

Being housed with three of the other Thai students is a great experience in itself.  For me, it was a great opportunity to bond with fellow Thai American students that were my age.  The Office of Educational Affairs is in a good location: there is a lot of food close by and the Dupont Circle metro station is a brisk 10 minute walk away.

Justin3In writing this, I am about to start the 2nd of the 5 weeks of this program.  Our first week has been the orientation week; we visited many different organizations around DC and were fortunate enough to meet and talk with some very influential people.  Some of my favorite institutions were the Congressional Research Service (CRS), The Pentagon, and the Department of Agriculture.

The Congressional Research Service is an institution that works directly for Congress members by providing them with the information that they need.  If a member of Congress requires more information to take a position on an issue, he or she will ask CRS to do the research for him or her.  Visiting the CRS was an eye opening experience for me, since I did not know that such an organization even existed.

Justin1Even before coming to DC, I knew I wanted to see the Pentagon.  It truly was a unique experience.  The inside of the Pentagon was more like a small city; it had a large food court, all kinds of stores, and of course, the offices.  I really like how the Pentagon was designed, the layout was simple and aesthetically appealing.  Many of the halls contained historical exhibits of the involvement of the Department of Defense.

The meeting at the Department of Agriculture was probably the most interesting for me.  The man we met with, Gary Woodward, was a great speaker.  He taught us life lessons while giving us useful information that was even presented in an entertaining manner.  To me, the most memorable piece of information he talked about was “reserving the right to say no”.  In the case of Department of Agriculture, it concerned foreign requests for market access.
I feel fortunate to be part of TANIP 2015.  If I was to make a recommendation to future participants of this program, I would say to stay humble, show respect, and listen to people when they speak.  By doing these three things, I personally believe it will allow you to get the most value out of the program.

By Justin Cobkit from Georgia

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Click HERE to learn more about the Thai-American National Internship Program (TANIP)