Hello, 2021!

I’ve written a post at the start of every year on this blog for quite some time, laying out some reflections and a few plans for the next twelve months. But then, some impulse in me told me not to write anything like that at the start of 2020.

It turned out to be just as well. As we all know, 2020 proved to be a year that was impossible to plan for, topsy turvy to experience, and a relief to finally finish. And to ruminate at length on everything that made 2020 so interesting — too interesting — is to simply add more redundant digital junk when every writer will have already made the same point in ways far more eloquent than I am capable of.

So rather than linger on an unsavory topic, some personal updates!

I graduated from UC Berkeley last fall: one semester early, unexpectedly, but propelled by a dawning realization that a few more months attending lectures on Zoom was not a totally appealing prospect. Watching commencement online was, needless to say, a little anti-climatic and not quite how I imagined college ending.

But that does not detract from my memories of Cal as an endlessly vibrant and intellectually rewarding experience for which I will always be grateful. I think it’s a fun pastime for all Berkeley students to make fun of our own campus, and to be sure it was taxing at times. But overall, The hours spent messing around in Eshleman Hall, studying at the East Asian Library, getting donuts in Castro Valley, even getting lost in Dwinelle: these are memories that I will cherish.

Since I left campus in the wake of an emerging pandemic, I want to take some time to thank everyone at Berkeley who helped make my time there so wonderful. In particular, I want to give a shout-out to friends in the ASUC and the ASUC Student Union, a community of extraordinarily dedicated, compassionate and thoughtful leaders that I’ve been fortunate to get to know; DiversaTech, a club I was in only briefly but where meaningful friendships were made; and ThaiSA, a family away from home that I’m glad to still be around this year. And of course, I couldn’t have done it without the unwavering support of my parents.

In other news, I began writing for Thai Enquirer last year, and it’s been exciting to be a part of a new media outlet shaking up Thailand’s journalistic scene. I’ve been trying not to beat any dead horse too many times, so I’ve been writing on all sorts of things that interest me: domestic politics in Thailand, of course, but also regional issues and even a few articles on Thai history on my blog. I’m very appreciative of TE for giving me a lot of creative and intellectual leeway to write about what I feel is important, and I’m excited to continue working with them this year.

This is now my seventh year writing about politics, although it still feels like yesterday since I started. As always, I’m deeply grateful to all my readers. I take all constructive feedback seriously, and I’ve learned a lot from all the Twitter replies, emails, comments (and even Reddit criticism, on one occasion) I receive.

Now that I’ve graduated, it’s a little unnerving to consider what next. For the first twenty years or so of life, most of us are moored to some sort of educational cursus honorum where, unless you were rebellious enough, there is relatively little room for deviation. So while it’s strange to consider that there’s now no set path ahead, I guess the beauty is in charting it for myself. And while my plans for this year are still hazy, one thing is for sure: I’ll keep writing.

Happy new year!

Ken

Bangkok, January 1st, 2021

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