By Shannon Chesbro, a member of the SkillCorps Kenya April 2016 team
I came into this new country knowing who I was and what I wanted to experience while I was here; I am now going to leave this country knowing what I want in life and who I want to become. This trip has empowered me and has given me a better outlook and perspective on autism, the world, and myself. It has changed my view on everything I thought I had already known.
During the trip I had a very rough day and it was only rough because of my blinded view of myself. I was stuck in a mindset that I needed to compare myself to the other team members and that I needed to be on their intellectual level. I do not have a degree and I now realize how much I looked down upon myself for that. I left school and took a year off but I have been punishing myself ever since. I have lots of experience working with children who have autism, but in my eyes, because I was not a college graduate or a BCBA I wasn’t valuable to the team.
After an emotional night, and no sleep, I came to terms with my negative perspective. I needed to forgive myself but I also needed to hold myself accountable for my actions. I left school. I cannot take that back. But what I can do is push myself that much harder to start over again. I have loved working with this team and learning through them. I now see that what I truly want is to be successful. I want to be successful in a way that is only measured by my own definition of success. I want to be a college graduate. I will be a college graduate, when it is right for me. I know I have the strength but I need to find the courage. Being afraid of my own thoughts is no way to live, and I realized that during this trip. How can I grow when I am stuck in the past? I am so fortunate for the things I have and the support I have but I need to be my biggest supporter and my biggest friend. I thank the Global Autism Project for this opportunity because through this trip I have made friends, memories, and a new beginning for myself.