Grace Namchaithotsaphon : Experience as a Thai-American Second Generation in Washington

“The Thai-American Internship Program was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. At the start of this program, I had already graduated college, and was unsure of what my next steps were. This internship allowed me to see different sides of the field of the government and politics and where I could find myself in it.

I am so grateful for the first week of orientation because we had meetings with different think tanks, organizations, and branches and agencies of the government. We met with many senior officials and policy advisors from the Department of State, Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), IMF, EPA, and many more. Each person and organization gave me a different perspective of the world and how they work together to make our society and culture. My favorite memory from the first week was meeting Senator Tammy Duckworth, the first Thai-American member of Congress. Speaking Thai with her and seeing someone that looks like me in Congress was so inspirational.

After the first orientation week, I started my internship at the Office of Congressman Robert Brady of Pennsylvania’s first district. Although I am not from Philadelphia, interning for Congressman Brady allowed me to learn about another region and city that I would not have known before. I answered constituent calls which helped me understand their concerns and the issues relevant to our district. I was able to sit in on meetings with groups advocating for their cause and write memos on bills and relevant issues to help inform the Congressman’s vote. Additionally, I attended many briefings for my Legislative Director and Legislative Aides as well as ones of interest to me. I was able to attend hearings, such as a hearing with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and a Congressional Intern Lecture Series with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Paul Ryan. My 6 weeks on the hill has made me more confident in myself and my decision to pursue a career in international relations and politics.

My last week at the Thai Embassy was also an unforgettable experience. I learned so much about how a country can still take care of its citizens abroad. I processed passports, issued Thai ID cards, legalized paperwork, issued visas, and dealt with emergencies. My favorite part was helping Thai citizens calling in an emergency or distress.

All in all, this program has given me an unforgettable experience which I hope to draw on for the rest of my life. I hope to be able to help increase the number of Thai-Americans in politics in order to increase our representation and to strengthen Thai-U.S. relations.”

Grace Namchaithotsaphon from Florida

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