CHAYANGKUL PETHPUNYA, 22
Chayangkul Pethpunya, from Bangkok, Thailand, is a student of political science at Chulalongkorn University. Due to the factors of extreme political events in the world and in Thailand, Pethpunya has been studying history and politics since he was in middle school. In 2016, Pethpunya attended Central Valley High School, Shasta Lake, California, as an AFS Intercultural Program exchange student. His exchange year coincided with the 2016 presidential election. This huge event fueled Pethpunya’s interest in American politics and culture. He sought discourse with friends and teachers in order to better understand the events that happened around the election.
After Pethpunya returned to Thailand in 2017, he had a reverse-culture shock. He started to question what was going on in the society. In the following October, Pethpunya campaigned for the abolishment of a beauty contest—in Thailand, it is a popular trend for senior students to arrange a freshmen beauty contest)—in his department because he felt the contest was against human and LGBTQ rights. Pethpunya wrote an article published by Prachatai, a liberal press in Thailand.
Pethpunya believes that freedom of speech is a key to which the youth around the world should have equal access. In some countries, youth are not allowed to criticize any aspect of society. He urges the need to ensure that freedom of speech as a universal value.