Rachel Forrest: Experience as a Thai-American Second Generation in Washington

Participating in the Thai American National Internship program was such an amazing and rewarding experience that I am extremely grateful for. Experiencing this internship with Ginger and Tasha was so fulfilling as we bonded over relatable Thai-American experiences, and were able to meet our common role model Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Meeting Sen. Duckworth alongside Sen. Durbin and Rep. Kelly at an Illinois constituent coffee event was definitely one of the highlights of the internship. Sitting in the front row about three feet away from Tammy, she described us to the room as her Thai-American, posse, squad, and her people, and we couldn’t keep back tears. 

Speaking of Illinois, this program provided me with invaluable professional experience through interning on capitol hill for Rep. Bill Foster of the Illinois 11th District. As this was my first time in D.C., I wasn’t exactly sure of what to expect while interning for Congress, or living in D.C. in general. But once I stepped into that office, I met amazing interns and staff who warmly welcomed me. I immediately started writing legislative memos, attending congressional briefings, and leading capitol tours even when I still felt like I could get lost. Overtime these tasks began to feel more automatic, but every day still remained equally exciting as the first.

Being able to gain first hand experience in the legislative process and life in the capitol was incredible and I greatly enjoyed all of the work, both inside and outside of the office. Having the privilege to attend briefings on important policy issues, volunteering for the Women’s Congressional Staff Association Conference headed by one of Tasha’s staffers, attending networking events with other AAPI Interns, and spending a week at the Thai Embassy all contributed to a wonderful internship experience that I will remember for years to come.