Gathering in the living room, sophomore Thanakrit Naisanguansri and his cousins sit in a circle, ready to play a card game. Instead of the typical diamonds or spades on his cards, there are Pokémon, and Naisanguansri immediately begins to map out a strategy against his opponents.
Naisanguansri has been expanding his Pokémon card collection since the fifth grade, amassing over 1,000 cards.
“I first started collecting them when I got them as a Christmas present,” Naisanguansri said. “I thought they looked cool, and I asked for more. Then, I really got into collecting these cards as a hobby.”
Pokémon cards have not only become a personal hobby but have helped him make new friends, serving as a shared interest.
“I was pretty shy in seventh grade, and I didn’t really talk to anyone,” Naisanguansri said. “I was kind of opening up during that time, and the first person I decided to talk to also happened to like Pokémon. It’s definitely made me more open to the idea of talking to the people in my classes.”
Naisanguansri’s hobby has also evolved into a cherished pastime he shares with his family that has deepened and strengthened their bond.
“Pokémon is a hobby that connects my family because, when I’m over at my cousins’ house on vacation, playing with Pokémon cards tends to be the main thing we do,” Naisanguansri said. “Having a shared hobby is really good at showing how similar we are, not just in blood but in interests.”
In his four-inch binder of Pokémon cards, his favorite card is an exclusive Pikachu card he got from watching Pokémon: I Choose You. Naisanguansri vividly recalls the memory of watching the movie with all his family and the closeness he felt with them.
“That card has a special family moment with it because it helped us come closer,” Naisanguansri said. “Whenever I look at that card, I remember how good that moment was with family.”