Jennifer Davis: Reflection from Thai-American in the Thai American National Internship Program
My name is Jennifer Davis. I am a rising junior at Virginia Tech University in Virginia majoring in International Studies with minors in Japanese and European Studies. I am also attending Chulalongkorn University in Thailand majoring in Communication Management.
My mother is from Thailand while my father is from America so I had the privilege of living in both countries while growing up. Because of my parents, I have a love of travelling to new places, learning different languages, and cultures. I feel blessed to have such a wide worldview from such a young age. I was brought up with traditions and cultures that shaped my interests, which eventually brought me here to DC.
I am truly so amazed and honoured to be able to speak about my experience interning on Capitol Hill and being a part of the Thai American National Internship Program.
First of all, I wouldn’t be in this position without the help and support of the Royal Thai Embassy, the US-Asia Institute, and the House Democratic Caucus. So I want to thank them sincerely. I never knew how important it was to have people backing you up on big milestones of your life, my first internship being one of them. I also want to thank my parents; they are my biggest supporters.
Because of them I was able to get an internship on the Hill. I am able to represent Thai-Americans in government and continue exploring my passion for politics, diplomacy, and international affairs—something I thought I would never get to experience hands-on, especially not during my time as an undergraduate.
So what was it like?
Completely nerve wracking but exciting. I was 99% percent sure they would fire me on my first day because I felt like I knew nothing going into this. I honestly felt that I didn’t deserve such an opportunity. Even though I was studying this in school, my actual experience in this field was zero. I felt overwhelmed and unsure of myself and my skills.
But, P’Gift, who was my main point of contact when I first got accepted into the program, gave me so much reassurance and support that I felt very secure in my role. P‘Ep, P’Aim, P’ Peak, P’ Icy, P’Mo along with others at the Thai Embassy, not only introduced to me what their work entails for the Thai community in America and Thailand, but helped me realise my role as a young Thai-American—what I could be doing to help empower the younger generation of Thais here in the states, especially in government. The Ambassador, His Excellency Manasavi, is a huge inspiration for me for how I can continue to learn and grow in this field, especially as a communicator, so I am so thankful for him.
The best thing this program gave me was the chance to just listen to other people’s experiences, realisations, and advice so that I can get a better sense of what I want to do, and what paths and opportunities I should chase after first. Whatever that may be, I know that public service, advocating for those who don’t have a voice is something I want to pursue.
Mary-Sue, Kathi, and Alec, along with others at the US-Asia Institute, who have been incredibly kind and supportive to me, told me that I woulddo great during my orientation week. They opened up an avenue where I was able to meet and get a chance to be mentored and advised by hardworking and amazing individuals on and off the Hill. I was able to start a network, which of course is extremely important here in D.C.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started interning for the Caucus, but I left there learning a lot and got to see many sides into how the government runs, especially on the House side. I attended briefings and hearings, wrote memos, assisted in planning events for members of Congress, and even got to interact with members of Congress as well which was extremely exciting.
I felt privileged to see the inner-workings and how tirelessly the staffers work. My supervisors, especially Buyka, helped introduce me to not only office life but life as a congressional staffer and every fast-paced project and task that comes with it. I grew up professionally in such a short amount of time.
As for being a Thai-American on the Hill, it was super interesting to see Thailand’s role in the United States and the countries’ continued bilateral relationship, also getting a chance to see, again, how I can play a role, as an individual who can understand both perspectives.
I know it is very cliche to say, but being a part of the TANIP Program truly expanded my view on government, on Thai-US relations, and my many paths that I could take in the future. I still have much to learn and see and experiences to grasp, which sometimes can be super overwhelming when I realise I am getting older and feel rushed to succeed, but I think that is perfectly okay.
Life can be fast paced and hectic; it can also feel like you are falling behind compared to everyone else. But, if you are continuing to explore new avenues and constantly trying to find new experiences to help you become a more educated world citizen while also making time for yourself, it is the best thing you can do. This program helped me become sure of that, so I am grateful I got to be a part of this.
Once again I want to thank you all, especially my peers in the TANIP program, Aoy Perry and Rosie, for helping me move forward, wherever that may be. I only hope to contribute to society in the way that society helped contribute to my personal and professional development.