Charles Tantakool: First Week Impressions of the Thai-American National Internship Program (TANIP)

image001First of all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Royal Thai Embassy, His Excellency Ambassador Pisan Manawapat, and the US-Asia Institute for their initiative on the Thai-American National Internship Program (TANIP). I am so grateful to have been accepted into the program and received opportunities to explore the US political system and public sector in a deeper level. This year, there were five candidates including myself. I arrived in Washington D.C. a week prior to the beginning of the program. I rented a single bedroom apartment near Rosslyn metro station, which is very convenient to commute to-and-from work and travel around the city.

During orientation week, students were scheduled to meet with various government agencies, think-tanks, lobbyists, and non-profit organizations, and officials from Capitol Hill. The program was very intense but well-organized with 4-5 meetings per day. We started off the program at the US-Asia Institute where we got to meet the Program Director and Program Assistants. After that, we explored the area around Capitol Hill, visited the Library of Congress, and then watched the Memorial Day parade. That evening, TANIP participants attended a gala dinner hosted by the Royal Thai Ambassador at his residency. We also met with a high-ranking official from the Thai Ministry of Physical Heath and candidates from the YSEALI (Young SouthEast Asia Leadership Institute) program. This event allowed us to connect and broaden our networks, as well as gain an insightful comprehension about development in the Thai community. For me, the highlights of orientation week were the meetings at the Department of State, U.S. Trade Representative, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, my favorite was with the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC), in which we had a chance to meet with Director Anthony Nelson. USABC is a leading advocacy group that aims to foster economic growth and trade ties between the US and ASEAN countries. It amazed me to learn that the Council represents over 140 of the largest US corporations including Cheverton, Google, Exxon Mobile, AT&T, CITI group, and FedEX. Throughout the meeting, I was also fascinated by the amount of knowledge USABC has on the economy, politics, and culture of Thailand. If you want to learn about how big American corporations conduct businesses and identify investment opportunity in ASEAN, this is the place where you can gain so much insight.

image003Another favorite meeting of mine was at International Monetary Fund (IMF) where we met with Ms. Pornvipa Tangcharoenmongkong, a member of the Executive Board. Ms. Pornvipa gave an explanation about the role of the organization in helping stabilize the international monetary system through foreign exchange rates, payment transparency, and macroeconomics. She also addressed issues and challenges of the Thai economy, such as slow GDP growth, domestic currency depreciation, and aging work force. In addition, she also shared her view about how digital currency like Bitcoin, has become a disruptive impact on the monetary system and a hot issue for the authority in terms of transparency, money lauding, and intrinsic benefits.

All in all, orientation week was an unforgettable and invaluable experience for me. Starting next week, I will be interning at USABC. I am so excited to utilize my background and passion in business, conduct market, and policy research for the Business Council. My advice for future TANIP participants is to clearly state your area of interest in the essay so that the Institute can place you with the organization that will align with your future endeavor.

By Charles Tantakool