By Brittney Paye, a second time SkillCorps volunteer and a member of the SkillCorps Kenya August 2016 team
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
I entered this journey for new experiences in my personal and professional life. I have always loved to travel and to travel for a reason. With this being my second trip with the Global Autism Project and a part of a Skillcorps team I had an idea of what I was getting myself into. I can say honestly that I feel each trip has contributed to my life in ways I never expected.
What I have come to realize is that yes, Skillcorps changed my life both personally and professionally. I have found myself to be more comfortable with my skill set and what I have to offer our partner sites. While this self-realization is great for me, it fails to recognize all of the children and staff whose lives have changed as a result of all Skillcorps members. About every 3 months new teams set out to each partner site with the same goal as I have – to help train staff at centers around the world in strategies that are considered to be best practice when working with a child with autism, and to have that information stick over time so that these children and the children yet to come will continue to receive services from the most highly qualified therapists. Try as we might, this is not something that can be accomplished solely in a 2 week period, but the ongoing support over time is what leads to a sustainable impact.
I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel for a second time with Skillcorps. Again I find myself with a group of people that I have never met before in a country that I have never been to. We have a job to do in a very short period of time and we want to do it well. We are all so invested in our work here that we spend hours after work planning and discussing how we can best support the center and the children there. The drive to have a sustainable impact for these children and the staff who care so greatly about them, all while trying to navigate a foreign country is a common bond that drives this experience and certainly creates memories and experiences of a lifetime.
At the end of the trip, we all hope to leave knowing we have made a sustainable impact for the students and staff at Kaizora. After all, it is their lives that we set out to change for the better and hope in some way that we have done just that.