By Maggie Denena
LEAP students were able to attend another wonderful event hosted by Houston’s World Affairs Council. This time, the event was “A Taste of Thailand,” at which the LEAP Ambassadors had a chance to try wonderful Thai food at Songkran Thai Kitchen, while also meeting the Honorary Consul of Thailand, Charles Foster; and the Consul General of Germany, Thomas Meister.
Each year, the World Affairs Council offers numerous opportunities to travel and learn more about the world, and this dinner was a way of exposing people to the Council’s upcoming travel to Thailand. While the LEAP Ambassadors cannot spare the time and money for such a trip, the Council staff generously allow us to join in on the learning experience.
We had a chance to meet Charles Foster, who is an immigration attorney and chairman of Foster LLP. His biography is impressive: he is a “Best Lawyer in America,” “Who’s Who Legal: Corporate Immigration Thought Leader,” and “Top 100 attorney in Houston.” He has served as senior immigration policy advisor for the campaigns of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He is also friends with our friend, Mark Burns.
We spoke briefly with Mr. Foster about one of his legal cases, one that prompted the film “Mao’s Last Dancer,” in which Mr. Foster was played by Kyle McClachlan.
Following an introduction by Sandija Bayot (Director of Development for WAC), Mr. Foster spoke for a few minutes to those gathered, recounting his experiences in public service and in Thailand–even giving a shout out to the SHSU contingent on hand, while noting that the former President of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, is an SHSU alum.
At dinner, Mr. Foster was busy chatting with the 30-40 people who attended the event, so we didn’t have much of a chance to follow up on discussions. Fortunately, however, we were seated near the Consul General of Germany, Thomas H. Meister. Mr. Meister’s represents Germany across the following states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
Consul General Meister was generous with his time, reviewing the different countries in which he was stationed (Brazil, New York, Texas, Uganda, Iceland, and Australia), his favorite places (New York), the challenges he has faced, and the five languages he speaks. When asked about the stereotypes of Americans and Texans, he said, “They are positive. Americans are known as friendly, and Texans are known as especially friendly, and I’ve found that to be true.” Very diplomatic!
The star of the evening, however, was the dinner. The restaurant offered four appetizers, which we were able to sample: Spring Rolls; Kari Puff (Baked Curry); Gong Ka-Bok (Chicken and Shrimp Crispy Roll); and Sai Krok Moo (Sausage–the best!). For entrees, we could choose from among fish, tofu, and chicken dishes. We tried all three so that we could share, and decide which is best. We voted the fish as the best by a substantial margin, although all were excellent.
For dessert, our options were sorbet or “Sagu Tua Dum,” the latter consisting of tapioca pearls, sweet corn, black beans, and young coconut. Professor Yawn and I had the Sagu Tua Dum, and it was not only good, but very interesting!
As always, LEAP students had a wonderful time at the World Affairs Council dinner with Honorary Consul Charles Foster, Consul General Thomas Meister, and Sandija Bayot, and we are very much looking forward to the next event!