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Learning and Growing in DC

June 20, 2014

Theophilus, a YIDA intern from Liberia in western Africa who is wearing a suitBy Theophilus Jlateh

Theophilus Jlateh is one of eight participants in the 2014 Youth in International Development and Affairs (YIDA) internship program.  He and other YIDA interns will be writing a series of blog posts about their experiences with the YIDA program this summer, to be posted at this blog.  USICD coordinates the YIDA internship program, which brings a cohort of students and recent graduates with disabilities to Washington, DC, each summer to complete internships at various international organizations in the Washington, DC, area. Theo Jlateh is completing his YIDA internship at the International Medical CorpsLearn more about the YIDA internship program at  Read Theo Jlateh’s biography, and the biography of other YIDA interns in the summer 2014 program, at The views and opinions expressed at this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of USICD.

The Youth in International Development and Affairs (YIDA) summer program is empowering. I grew up in an environment where the dehumanization and dreadful treatment of people with disabilities is accepted and grossly embedded into the culture. Moreover, because these sort of behaviors are commonly overlooked, people like myself come close to believing that  such behavior  is “normal”, “obvious”, and ”usual.” I definitely believe that people need to respect the right and dignity of people with disabilities. As a result, I have the responsibility to teach and help others.  This is where the YIDA summer internship program comes in. I have come to believe that  “The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that” (Norton Juster).

The YIDA internship is remarkable. Though the internship has not ended, I have met professionals, helpful staffs, and follow interns who are full of energy and have a shared passion for impacting the lives of others. Through series of meetings, trainings and mentoring, I am experiencing an increase in confidence. By hanging out with my peers, I have also learn how to manage my own disability, while helping other manage their disabilities, thus making our global community better and stronger. USICD staff members are helping me achieve my dreams.

I have many barriers that are preventing me from reaching my full potential.  Nevertheless, with organizations and programs like The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD), and its Youth in International Development and Affairs program, and so on, I can do more than I have ever thought of doing.  Living in Washington DC is a great opportunity. I have already learned a lot and I know that my life will obviously be impacted by the DC experience. I strongly believe that this experience has put me in a better position to be a mentor for someone in the foreseeable future. Of course, one of the experiences that is worth mentioning is being on Capitol Hill. I have attended some presentations and other events of interest.  Now, if you think that nothing is cool, this is so cool.

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain” (Richard M. Nixon)

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 25, 2014 12:37 am

    Wonderful comments Theo. I am excited for you and your DC experience. I am looking forward to a great summer as your mentor and to a lifetime of friendship! You are on an amazing adventure and it seems like you are enjoying it! I love your post, please keep them coming! LEAD ON! Dara

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