Ken Lohatepanont’s passion for politics has drawn the attention of major news outlets and even Thailand’s constitution drafting committee. Now, he’s studying political science at the University of California, Berkeley, while continually refining his views. Amidst a volatile political landscape, he and Michael Waitze chat about transitions, writing, and democracy.
After receiving college acceptances, Ken decided that Berkeley fit him best, “It’s the epicenter of public policy research…wanted to experience it for myself.” Initially, he was shocked by the size. Berkeley’s 800-person lectures completely dwarfed KIS International School’s 30-strong graduating class. But by “carving out his own neighborhood”, Ken was able to get involved with Berkeley’s student government and create meaningful relationships in college.
The two spend a bit of time discussing democracy and what makes it sustainable. Many concepts surface such as acting in good faith, the polarization of society, and barriers to a thriving democracy. Ken discusses how his views have changed compared to when he was still in high school. He’s now a firm believer in the long-term sustainability of democracy in Thailand.
To further engage with politics, Ken also writes on his blog, kenlwrites.com. They discuss how writing can have a significant impact, especially during times of political crisis. Ken describes his mission as, “promoting political literacy, and countering misinformation.” His next project? A series on Thailand’s political crises from the late 90’s.
Michael wraps up with some life advice for large institutions and by extension, the real world: “You have to stand up and ask for it. ‘I want to do that.’ If you want something, you have to go get it.“