Tipa Attasivanon Links Her Practical Experience in Latin America with an Academic Grounding

Attasivanon by the Baños-Puyo Waterfall Route, Ecuador

April 11, 2018
by Kristijan Fidanovski

When Tipa Attasivanon (LAS’19) was looking at graduate schools, it did not take her long to choose the Latin American Studies program at the School of Foreign Service.

“Everybody loves the Georgetown campus. Me too. However, to me, the importance of the curriculum comes first,” Attasivanon says. “I chose this particular program because it offers so many useful courses for those who want to be policymakers or practitioners in the Latin American region. Another strong reason was that this program provides interdisciplinary options for students to take other courses offered at the School of Foreign Service.”

Attasivanon comes to Georgetown with a full scholarship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.

“Out of numerous nationwide applicants, I was eventually selected to be the one of five students to receive a scholarship to pursue both an undergraduate and a graduate degree abroad. My scholarship has a condition that I have to go back to Thailand and serve my country’s Foreign Service right after my graduation. It was easy for me to make this commitment, as I have always wanted to work as a diplomat,” she says.

Attasivanon and her English students in Bogota, Colombia

Attasivanon’s passion for the Latin American region is relatively uncommon in her country. She was the first Thai student to obtain an undergraduate degree from La Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico. After graduating, she participated in the AIESEC Global Volunteer program in Bogota, Colombia, where she taught English classes to Colombian youth and then studied an Intensive Portuguese course at Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has also served as an intern at the Royal Thai Embassy in Mexico City.

Attasivanon’s graduate studies have helped link her practical experience in the region with an academic grounding. “CLAS has taught me how to understand the particular characteristics of each country and sub-region in Latin America, and at the same time help me discover the tight relations between these countries. This program has allowed me to link my past fragmental experiences in many Latin American countries with academic knowledge, theories and analytical skills, which I have gained from all of my classes here.”

Attasivanon on a tour of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The community at CLAS have been an important part of Attasivanon’s experience. “I am also lucky to be surrounded by all the amazing people from the CLAS community. I am particularly grateful to Associate Director Julie Walsh McMurtry, Professor Angelo Rivera Santos, who is my Concentration Advisor, and our Program Academic Director Fr. Matthew Carnes.”

Attasivanon has also taken advantage of the ample opportunities available to students of foreign affairs  in Washington, D.C. “I have benefited a great deal from the availability of a wide range of think tanks in the D.C. area that work with Latin American issues, academic events and professional talks with many Latin American ambassadors, some of them held by CLAS.”

After graduation, Attasivanon is eager to apply her skills to the real world.

“I believe that being a diplomat will make me a more well-rounded and open-minded person as I keep moving from one country to another. Also, I consider myself an activist, not a theorist. Thus, working as a diplomat will allow me to design tangible policies which could bring positive change both to the people of my country and to those of my host countries in the future.”

In the short-term, Attasivanon has  exciting plans for the summer. “I will be joining the CLAS Graduate Summer Program in Santiago de Chile. This program has both academic and internship components. Therefore, I will be taking classes on Chile’s economy and politics at the Universidad Alberto Hurtado as well as doing my internship at the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”