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Immigrant’s Tale: Bridges not Walls

July 12, 2017

By Yuliya Gileva

Young woman smiles at camera

Yuliya Gileva

I am an immigrant in United States who has a disability and a purpose—words that I now feel the need to say more and more often as the current political climate shifts towards neglecting the hopes and dreams of so many people who have uttered these words before.

When the executive order that targeted people from Muslim-majority countries came to light, I thought of the Berlin Wall because of its significance in history. People were willing to die for their beliefs and the prospect of a better life as they crossed from East to West. Today, a similar theme is present, except not in the Cold War context. We should be building bridges rather than building walls.

One of the key ways to build bridges between people is to embrace diversity and include people from all walks of life in every community regardless of how large or small. Diversity, in my opinion, is in some ways similar to a kaleidoscope of beads in which unique individuals all come with varying life experiences, backgrounds, perspectives and goals for the future. Diversity leads to creative discussions and a vast array of potential solutions to difficult questions. It is that very distinction of each individual that adds to a more vibrant community.

Inclusion, the proactive and collective process towards appreciation of diversity, is a key factor to a stronger community. It is the embrace of uniqueness. Inclusion, in its ideal form, is a constant process that builds the pieces of the kaleidoscope that is diversity. Each piece shines on its own while also bringing out the beauty of the pieces around it. One of the main goals of inclusion is to give each individual a voice.  The importance of the voice is twofold. On the one hand, the voice of the individual helps that individual grow by sharing personal thoughts and experiences. On the other hand, that individual’s voice has the ability to impact the listeners in a positive way and shape or change the conversation.

It is my sincere hope that in the near future many more bridges will be built which will withstand the test of time. My tools are ready. Let’s continue to build the foundation— inclusion for all on paper and in practice. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs program which has continued to highlight the importance of inclusion throughout the years in a remarkably proactive way.

Yuliya Gileva is a member of the 2017 cohort of the USICD Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program.  She and other USICD program interns are writing a series of blog posts about their experiences with USICD’s internship program and other topics, to be posted at this blog during the summer.  USICD coordinates the 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.  The internship program was enabled by funding support from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF). Yuliya Gileva is completing her internship at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) at the World Bank.  Read the biographies of our interns in the summer 2017 program.  Or read blog posts by other current and past interns. The views and opinions expressed at this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of USICD, MEAF, or IFC or World Bank

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