by Brittney Paye, a member of the SkillCorps DR October 2015 team
I am a member of SkillCorps for many reasons. The fact that 54 people decided to make a donation (in both time and money) in my name is pretty significant and without them, this would not have been possible. These 54 people reside in 35 different cities across 10 different states within the U.S. This is incredible; powerful experience number 1.
There has been a lot of lead up to this day for all of us, myself and the 5 other women I have the pleasure of traveling with. The months of fundraising and anticipating this adventure have finally come to a close. We are here! After spending a relaxing weekend touring caves with clear blue water, sitting on white sandy beaches, relaxing on a catamaran as the turquoise water rushes underneath, and of course spending hours chatting away about behavior analytic concepts for fun, it was time to get to work; powerful experience number 2.
The best way to start off any new journey, I find anyway, is with physical activity. The opportunity to get a run in at the park in the early morning before the hot and humid takes over and you can’t breathe was important for me before heading to Aprendo for the first time.
Finally, the time had arrived to meet the staff and students of Aprendo. The heart of what this adventure is based around. So there we were, ready to get to work in our nice white polo shirts and somewhat anxious but super excited attitudes. And wow, what a day!
The staff greeted us warmly and expressed their dedication to the students and the center, some even stating that Aprendo was a family to them. Their bond and dedication to the students and their receptiveness to our presence was overwhelming; powerful experience number 3.
Day one at Aprendo afforded us with new experiences. With the exciting opportunity to accompany Aprendo’s owner and operator Karla, and director Lia, to an IEP meeting I was slightly outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully it was all in English, that at least I could feel better about. As I sat in this meeting, I was listening intently and hoping I would be able to contribute in a meaningful way. I took opportunities as they came and hope that my contributions were helpful in some way; powerful experience number 4.
Following a long mid afternoon break, we got right back into it. I had the pleasure of observing two different staff working with two different students. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with the students and spend time supporting the staff. One of the most notable characteristics across everyone at Aprendo today was their desire to continue to grow. During our debriefing at the end of the long day, the most stated positive was that they loved the feedback. They were so thrilled to receive any and all feedback, good, bad, easy, hard, anything that would indicate how they could be more successful in running a student’s programs and fostering a better relationship with that child. This love and dedication to this job, the center, themselves, us as volunteers – this is powerful experience number 5.