Grace Namchaithotsaphon is currently working towards a degree in International Studies at the University of North Florida. This summer, she interned in the office of Congressman Robert Brady (D-PA) through the Thai-American National Internship Program.
The Thai-American National 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 would be. By the program’s end, I’d seen several different sides of the government and politics field and had a good idea of where I could find my place within it.
The first week of orientation gave me a great introduction to DC-based 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 shape and improve 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 who looks like me in Congress was very inspirational.
After the first week, I started my internship in the office of Congressman Robert Brady of Pennsylvania’s first district. I am not from Philadelphia, so interning for Congressman Brady was a huge learning experience about a wholly new region. Answering constituent calls allowed me to learn about their concerns and the issues relevant to our district. I was also able to sit in on meetings with groups advocating for various causes and to write memos on bills and relevant issues to help inform the Congressman’s vote. 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 U.N. Nikki Haley, and a Congressional Intern Lecture Series with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Paul Ryan. My six weeks on the Hill have made me more confident about 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 who were calling the Embassy in an emergency or times of distress.
All in all, this program has given me an unforgettable experience which I hope to draw on for the rest of my life. Expanding on this experience, I hope to be able to help increase the number of Thai-Americans in politics in order to increase our representation and strengthen broader Thai-U.S. relations.