Aoy Staples: Reflection from Thai-American in the Thai American National Internship Program
My name is Pattaranan Aoy Staples. I am a first-generation Thai-American. I am currently a rising sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park majoring in Public Policy on the Pre-Law track. Go terps! First, I would like to express my gratitude toward Mr. Ambassador Manasvi, P’Gfit, P’Aim, everyone else at the Royal Thai Embassy, the US-Asia Institute, Congressman Jamie Raskin and his team for making this summer possible and filled with incredible experiences I will forever cherish.
I would like to especially thank Mr.Ambassador Manasvi for prioritizing the Thai American National Internship Program. He took the time to get to know each one of us. He held a luncheon for us along with our supervisors to form a deeper connection. Mr.Ambassador Manasvi welcomed us with open arms into his residence. P’Gift for not only being an astonishing mentor but for being like family to me. From responding to my late night panic messages to helping me find solutions to my concerns, P’Gift never complained. She responded with love, care and sincerity. She is truly a gift in my life. P’Aim for helping us with our assignments and working hard alongside P’Gift to keep TANIP going. I truly admire how hardworking she is and how welcoming she has been. My mentor, Ashleigh Kong, for taking the time out of her day to call me every week to check in and give me advice I never knew I needed. She has been nothing but supportive and playing the role as a big sister I always wanted. Mary Sue Bissel, Kathi Lunardi and Alec Bohlman for working as our angels guiding us to the big Congress world. Alec, for taking the time to help me find future opportunities after this summer. They all worked tirelessly to ensure we were placed in offices they thought would best fit us. They took amazing care of us and treated us like family.
I would also like to thank my family for all of their support. I admire my mom’s love for our country. I want to dedicate this internship to her as a thank you for keeping me and my little sister engaged in our culture to the best of her ability while living in the United States.
This summer I had the honor of working in the Office of Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-8) alongside his impressive team. I am a constituent of his district so his policies directly impact me. The main aspect of my role in the office consisted of interactions with constituents. This allowed me to gain an insight on what goes on behind the scenes and how hard his staffers work to ensure the constituents are well taken care of. I responded to constituent letters and wrote memorandums which significantly helped improve my writing skills. My favorite part of the job was answering phone calls. It is rewarding being able to help find solutions to constituents’ problems. There is no better feeling than being to help someone out no matter how big or small the issue may be. I learned that being a public servant is an honorable role. I have always wanted to devote my life to helping others and this summer allowed me to do so. I am beyond grateful to have had the honor of serving Congressman Raskin’s constituents and gained a skill in effective communication and engagement.
During my time on the hill, I attended an Intern Lecture conducted by Speaker Pelosi. It provided me with a better understanding of what it is like to have dual roles in congress. I was able to attend a few hearings such as the January 6th Committee and the Assault Weapons Ban and Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act. Being there offered me the opportunity to see how the legislative branch actually works. This experience will serve me well in my future endeavors.
I also had the privilege to attend a few receptions. They allowed me to meet people who will be valuable contacts as I continue on my path as a Public Policy, Pre-Law student. These people are not just professional connections but also new friends and future colleagues. I enjoyed hearing their stories, where they come from, and sharing my own story being a Thai American working on the hill.
I noticed that on the hill, at least on the house side, there is not a lot of Thai representation. I look forward to bringing more notice to our culture and strengthening the bilateral relationship. We know Thailand is an amazing country, it is my goal to expose that to others as well. TANIP provided us the opportunity to represent Thailand in the US government. I believe this is a very important role and I am beyond thankful to have this opportunity.
The one-week period at the Royal Thai Embassy reinvigorated my connection to Thailand. This internship helped me connect to my Thai roots and feel the empowerment as a Thai American. I have never been more proud of my culture. Everyday, I see the work they do at the office helping strengthen the Thai community, ensuring the safety and comfort of Thai people living in the United States. Prior to this internship, I did not have a single Thai friend in school. I felt very disconnected to the Thai side of me. Now, I have gained Thai friends who understand what it is like being Thai-Americans. They make me feel closer to Thailand and provide me a sense of comfort I didn’t realize I was lacking.
Although the TANIP cohort was put together randomly, I feel like we were truly meant to meet at this time. They brought a different perspective of what a Thai-American could be and reinforced this perspective in my life. I have enjoyed spending time with Perry, Jenn and Rosie exploring D.C. outside of work. They made this summer an amazing one.
No matter where I end up in the future, the skills I earned during this summer will forever stick with me. This internship reassured me that I want to devote my life to giving back and making a positive impact on people’s lives.
This summer, I found an extra set of family and there are no words in the English or Thai vocabulary that could precisely express my appreciation and love for my new family at the US Asia Institute and the Royal Thai Embassy. Thank you. I love you all.