Natchaya May Vutrapongvatana’s impression of the first Thai-American National Internship Program
As my time in the Thai American National Internship Program and Washington, DC comes to a close, I will forever be blessed and thankful for the opportunity that I was able to have this summer. This experience is definitely one that provided me with not only growth in my professional career but personal growth as well. Because of TANIP, I was able to experience so much more than a typical DC tourist would have been able to. I was able to go into the Pentagon and to walk around its halls and see and learn more about the United States’ defense system and to go into various agencies like the Chamber of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of State and learn about the experiences of staffers who told us stories of their experiences from starting out as an intern to a person who is making change in the community and the country. As a pre-law student, it was an amazing experience to be able to walk inside the halls of the Supreme Court and to have been walking in the same halls as the many Supreme Court Justices of the past and present and to have been in the same halls where historic legislations such as Brown vs. the Board of Education and the legalization of same sex marriage have been passed. During my time at the US ASEAN Business Council, I was grateful for the opportunity to have been able to experience various briefings that DC’s many think tanks such as the Bipartisan Policy Project, the Stimson Center, and CSIS had to offer and I was able to gain insight on various topics on ASEAN and beyond in our global community. TANIP provided me with an insider’s look to Washington, DC and it was one that I am grateful for.
The experience I am most grateful for during my time here was the opportunity to work alongside the Trafficking in Persons project at the Royal Thai Embassy. As a feminist and an aspiring international human rights lawyer, human trafficking, particularly the issue of sex trafficking, is one of my interests and is a topic I plan to work on in my future career and hence why, it was great to have been able to have a hands on experience with this topic. I was able to further my research on this topic as well as the chance to critically analyze this issue from a Thai lens and explore alternatives in other countries to see what would work best in tackling this issue in Thailand. Although my time at the embassy was short and is coming to a close, I will be taking the work that I have done here back home and seeing how I can further tackle this problem and will try to develop a working product out of it.
I will forever thank God for this experience this summer, that a girl from Brooklyn like me was able to come to DC and to be able to learn and grow so much and to also come back home more motivated than ever before to enrich and empower my community. I am excited and ready to be a representation and a force for the Thai community in New York and to show other young Thai-Americans, especially young Thai women, that we have a voice and that we can ALL do it.
By Natchaya May Vutrapongvatana from New York