The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

56 MARCH 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL facility. Pallet after pallet going into the totes and whisked behind the thick concrete walls on the conveyer, irradiated, and then right out for loading on the truck for the journey to the airport. It was a journey I would take the next day with my family, heading to the U.S. for a much-needed home leave. Khun Rapibhat knew I was leaving the next day for home and wanted to make sure I was there for the special event—an event I had no idea would be so special. He mobilized his staff and pulled together an amazing venue, with mascots, lots of fruit, a ribbon cutting, and many heartfelt words khob khun khrup and kha (“thank you” in Thai). When all was done, the crowd had left, and the smoke settled, my amazing staff of three—Dr. Mai, Kannika Teeraakaravipas (Khun Ju), and Ronnapat Benjakunasatapawn (Khun Pat)— turned to me and said, “You need to pack!” b As I headed back to Bangkok on that warm night, my excitement mounted with the thought of home. In the Foreign Service you are separated from so much, and soon I would see my mom. The next day we went to the airport to make a similar journey the pomelos had embarked on a few hours before. Flying across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco, I thought of all the voyages across this massive blue expanse that forged 190 years of U.S.- Thai diplomatic relations that so many have taken for two centuries, each trip bringing us a better understanding of each other. I would like to think I did my part in these efforts, even if it wasn’t a treaty, or a silk robe, or a gold scabbard. Perhaps it was actually a bit more, because the pomelo represents the journey that the U.S. and Thailand have taken together. The pomelo looks and feels like a globe, and when you next hold one in the palm of your hand, think of all the journeys that have taken place and the story that will unfold for the next two centuries. n The United States is Thailand’s largest export market.