It's not every day that someone gets chosen to be princess at the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival held in Washington D. C., so when C Tambundit was titled princess for Thailand she was happy to represent her country.
The Cherry Blossom Princess Program is a weeklong opportunity for women chosen from all over the nation and international representatives to come together to celebrate the Cherry Blossom ceremony in Washington D.C. Throughout the week, women ages 19-24 will practice their leadership and networking skills as they participate in events celebrating a Japanese tradition . The women will also get the opportunity to meet with the Japanese ambassador, diplomats and the First Lady. C Thambundit shared her experience with the process of applying for the opportunity and her thoughts on representing Thailand as their princess.
TDP: How did you first hear about this program?
C Thambundit: I first heard about this program my junior year of high school. We actually know somebody who works at the embassy and he thought the program would be something I would be interested in. They knew I was interested before so they called me up and I completely almost forgot about it at first, so I applied for it.
TDP: When you heard about the news, how did you react?
C Thambundit: I received the call a week ago. At first I didn't really process it because I was really excited because, you know, I get to go to D.C. for a week. The number one thing on my bucket list is to see the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan and I guess the closet thing is to see them bloom in D.C. I get to cross something off my bucket list at the same time that I'm doing something in such a cool enrichment program. The first thing I did was obviously called my parents and told them and my sisters and tell all my friends. I'm really excited because I've been looking forward to this in the past couple of years; it's not something that just came up.
TDP: Are there specific duties you have after this whole event?
C Thambundit: I get put into an alumni database for all the past princesses and it's just a network for me to have in the future and something to put on my resume for the future.
TDP: Is princess program by country or by state?
C Thambundit: There are two programs. One is a state program, so there's princesses for every state and then there's princesses for every embassy-every embassy that chooses to participate. So I'll be an international princess for Thailand.
TDP: Were you able to get in contact with the past princess that represented Thailand?
C Thambundit: No, I haven't. Last year was the first time in a while that they didn't participate so they brought it back this year. I think last year they didn't have the funds. I have been in contact with other past princesses who have been assigned to help the current ones get ready for the event. They help us by giving us tips on what to pack and from their experiences they forgot or what to wear. It's a Facebook group with all of us [princesses] in it and they're the administrators. They post stuff like 'don't forget to send this in!' They're like basically our moms.
TDP: How is this important to your country?
C Thambundit: It's important in general to all countries just to show that we respect and that we're really thankful for the friendship that the US has between them and Japan. For me, really it's just a great experience to be able to meet diplomats from all around the world and senators from every state. We get to tour the White house as well, and it's always really hard to get a tour there recently. There's a chance we might meet Michelle Obama as well because every couple of years we usually meet the First Lady. I guess everything I do will impact the way I represent Thailand.
TDP: What events do they have planned for you guys?
C Thambundit: Throughout the week I'll be making different appearances either at certain monuments or at different embassies. So every embassy will be hosting their own little events. For example, I will be going to the embassy of Hungary for tea and the Embassy of France for Breakfast and my Embassy, the Embassy of Thailand, will be hosting a luncheon so we could all get a taste for everybody's culture. It's really cool because that's the whole point of the program is to meet different from all around I guess the nation but the world as well. We also do a lantern lighting ceremony that's a really big event. That will be the first time we meet the Japanese ambassador and that's where a lot of Japanese diplomats will be as well. This event will be open to the public and it'll be outside and the cherry blossoms will be blooming so it'll be pretty fun. I'm an Asian studies minor so this is something that I'm interested in already. I've taken Japanese arts classes and Japanese history, there's something about Japanese history I really love. So this isn't 'Oh cool I'm going to the lantern ceremony', it's 'I've heard about this and I get to experience this firsthand'. There are two balls that happen during the week: the first one is the Congressional reception and for that one it's on Capitol Hill. We're escorted by either a senator from your state if you're a state princess or a diplomat from your country if you're an international princess. That's where we will also meet the ambassador of Japan again and then at the end of the week there is a big grand cherry blossom ball where all the princesses get together and they have a "spin of the wheel" almost like the wheel of fortune-they have every state name and then they spin it and whatever state it lands on that princess gets to go to Japan for two weeks. They get to be the sole representative of the US for Japan.
TDP: Did you tell your family in Thailand about the news?
C Thambundit: Actually, my parents told my family in Thailand. I actually didn't get to do it myself since I was busy. I have to wear traditional Thai clothes during the parade and the ball so they've been finding clothes for me in Thailand and they're going to be shipping them over here for me to wear. It's in about a month so we have time. It's really exciting because when I was younger I was never really as close to my culture because I was born and raised here. My two older sisters close in age had the chance to study in Thailand for two years and I am a lot further apart so I didn't. So I never really got to write or learn how to speak Thai or anything, it was always something that was kind of distant for me. I kind of rejected it when I was younger because I was more American, but as I grew older I realized that I didn't want to lose the culture that I have inside of me. And so as I grew older throughout high school I got to know my culture a little better.