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An Inside Look at U.S. Policymaking in Washington, DC

The Thai American National Internship Program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Thai American students to gain a firsthand look at the American government and political system in Washington DC, and to reflect on the role they, as future leaders, might play in strengthening the U.S.-Thai relationship.

Participation in the political process is crucial to ensuring that a community’s needs and concerns are heard and addressed. The Thai community in the United States should be more civically engaged and represented at the municipal, state, and national levels given the substantial Thai population in the United States (237,629 according to US Census 2010). While providing support to elected officials who are friends of the Thai community is one way to achieve this objective, an even more effective way in the long run is to support the community’s new generations to enter politics and represent their own community. The Royal Thai Embassy has initiated a program to provide Thai-American youth with the opportunity to intern/shadow in various offices of elected officials or public agencies at the national level. This experience will develop a stronger understanding of how government operates by experiencing it from an insider’s perspective. The program will prepare elite young leaders to participate in the political/legislative arenas and is dedicated to developing skills of individuals who are interested in public service. Not only will this be an invaluable professional experience, but it will also benefit the Thai community by increasing the interest of Thais in American politics in the future.

This program, sponsored by the Royal Thai Embassy in consultation with the US-Asia Institute, will provide the opportunity for eight (8) Thai American students to come to Washington D.C. from June 4-July 29, 2017 to get a hands-on experience in the policymaking process. Students would get an inside look at how government works, hearing from Washington policymakers and influencers who play key roles in the American political system. Following orientation, the students would visit key institutions across Washington including The Capitol, Federal agencies, and the Supreme Court; area think tanks; associations; and businesses. They would attend congressional and judicial proceedings, briefings on topics of interest, and meet many key participants, including policy makers and influencers (including lawmakers, Administration officials, lobbyists, educators, journalists and others). On weekends, they would explore the national capital area, including landmarks and historic, educational and cultural events, and interact with other Americans and foreign nationals in a wide range of social settings.

The students would then be paired with various offices/individuals on Capitol Hill or other locations as determined, in a short-term professional development “shadowing” or internship component. This will help facilitate understanding of how government works and provide insight into topics of interest and concern in the Thai-U.S. relationship and other areas.

Participants will also be asked to participate in a briefing on Thailand and topics of interest vis-à-vis the bilateral and regional relationship with the United States. Though the students are not experts on the issue, they are in a unique position of having ancestral ties to Thailand and a better understanding of cultural nuances in the relationship. They will also be asked to write a short analysis on the experience. We firmly believe that those chosen for the program have a role to play in informing U.S. policy influencers and others about their country and areas of interest. The program culminates with an American Fourth of July BBQ for the students, internship/shadowing sponsors, and others giving students the chance to say goodbye to their new friends, and reflect on what they have learned during their trip followed by fireworks on the national mall in Washington DC.

Application Deadline: December 31, 2016. See details here.

Important Facts

Eight students will be accepted for this program. The students are responsible for all expenses related to the program (estimated to be approximately $2000) to include travel to Washington DC and return to home location; housing (inexpensive housing option available through the Royal Thai Embassy or on own); food; ground transportation throughout the program; and cultural and spending money. All participants must, after acceptance into the program, show proof of health insurance and sign a liability waiver. The Thai American Youth Political Leadership Awards sponsored by the Royal Thai Embassy will be given to three participants to cover expenses for the program. Interested participants must indicate their needs for financial assistance in the application form.