By Maria Sutherland, a member of the SkillCorps Indonesia July 2017 team

1. Fundraising is hard but people really want to help. Fundraising was challenging and my mind played tricks with me. There were times when I thought there was no way I can raise $5,000 in a couple of months. But when I started asking people and talking to them about Global Autism Project’s mission, people got on board. Towards the end, people were reaching out to be part of the fundraiser. People really want to help, they just need to be asked.

2. I found out who are my support system . I spend a lot of time explaining to people close to me why I wanted to be in SkillCorps.  I found out who understood my heart and the people who believe in me. Friends I lost connections over the years, brought us back together because we all have the same desires.

3. Go with the flow. I get a little anxious when I don’t know what comes next. I learn to go with the flow and really trust the staffs and leaders of Global Autism Project. I learned to trust  that they really know what they are doing. I am glad that they spared me the little details and prepared me to go with the flow before arriving to Jakarta.

4. Roll with the punches. I like to plan. It  used to be when something didn’t go according to my plan, I would freak out. However during the trip with SkillCorps there was only so much I can control. The rest is out of my hands and the focus shifts how to cope and deal with the situation.

5. I am tolerant. Being in Jakarta, I learned that I can actually be tolerant of a lot of things. But back home I just choose to complain when things are annoying me. I learned to always see the positive of things each day.

6. Laugh at everything. When things are going wrong, just laugh. Just like when our room got flooded, we spent 5 minutes laughing before we took care of it. When my dinner did not come, I laughed then ate my leader’s left over food. When I was exhausted at the end of the day, I laughed. Laughing heals and comforts.

7. The power of the domino effect. As I was watching the educators at the partner site supporting each other. I was reminded of all the people back home that supported me so I can be at that exact moment to support the partner site. I realized the power of the domino effect of support. It take one moment to create a chain of great moments.

8. Human Connection is stronger than language. Language barrier can be extremely difficult, unless we have the patience to work through the challenges and find a way to connect with each other. I learned that the power of human connection is so strong that it can overcome by any obstacles.  I learned  that if people can respect the differences that exist in all of us, we can work to overcome the language barriers, by striving to seek the main commonalities we all share as human beings.

9. Strangers becoming family. Travelling across the world with strangers is a crazy idea. I am very grateful that I was with 8 bright, kind, warm and open minded women. I appreciate and admire all of them. I learned a few things from each one of them. They made my day every single day.  It was so hard to feel homesick because this 8 strangers became my family. They will always have a space in my heart.

10. I learned that no matter how well travelled you are, SkillCorps is an extraordinary experience. SkillCorps is nothing like any of my travels. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and I found out what I am really made of. I created the most positive habits during my time in SkillCorps which I am still practicing until now. It sounds corny but this experience is life changing. It makes you realize who you really are I am so grateful for this experience and the people I met along the way. 

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