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Fears and Rewards

July 24, 2017

By Chuck Aoki

Young man smile at camera

Chuck Aoki

I’ll admit that I had a certain amount of apprehension before moving to Washington, D.C., for my internship with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) through the USICD Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program. The last time that I had moved completely across the country, on my own, I was 18, and had just graduated high school. To summarize that move succinctly, I’ll just say that I was a textbook example of a kid who was intellectually ready for the rigors of college, but not developmentally mature at all. That’s not to say I got into a massive amount of trouble or anything, but I was slightly overwhelmed by the prospect of living all by myself, with no one telling me when or where to be places.

Eight years later, I knew that I was much more mentally mature, and prepared for to move across the country again. I’ve been in graduate school for a year, and did reasonably well, plus I’ve traveled around the world and back for the last eight years. Moving across the country shouldn’t be a problem at all. Yet I still felt nervous as my plane began to land in D.C., despite all this. Nerves are a funny thing. I’ve played in front of massive crowds and spoken publicly in front of numerous groups of people without any apprehension. But this idea of moving across the country had me panicking ever so slightly.

The good news? My fears turned out to be completely misguided. Aside from forgetting to bring sheets, I managed to settle into my dorm nicely, and have been enjoying living in D.C. tremendously, aside from the occasional 3am fire alarm wakeup. And my work at NDI has been quite enjoyable, and I’ve been able to apply my skills that I’ve been learning in graduate school quite effectively to my work here. Using my skills to help further the inclusion of people with disabilities across the world has been a very rewarding experience, and I am so grateful for NDI and USICD for the chance to work in such a rewarding place.

Chuck Aoki is a member of the 2017 cohort of the USICD Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program.  he 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). Chuck Aoki is completing his internship at the National Democratic Institute (NDI). 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 NDI

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