By Jordan Haefling, a member of the SkillCorps Indonesia October 2016 team

Going into this trip, I was fully prepared for the amount of clinical work that we would be doing. We show up to orientation ready to learn how to be a SkillCorps member, we go over the goals that will try to be completed at the site, and a general low down of the area that we will be living in for 2 weeks. I also had the background knowledge of what being a SkillCorps member was actually like since this is my second trip for the Global Autism Project. BOOM! I was prepared. I’ll hop on a few planes with my notebook, some clothes, and an open mind.

While orientation is an amazing experience in itself, it does not prepare you for everything. It does not prepare you for the strong connections that you are able to make with your team members. Staying up late going over work, breaking often to laugh until we cry, and eventually going back to work, rinse, and repeat. These connections become so strong, you sometimes forget that at the end of this experience, you have to go back to your normal, non-SkillCorps life and try to function without these amazing people by your side 24/7.

Orientation does not prepare you for the strong connections you are able to make with your partners at the clinic. Listening to the goals of your partners, goals which are filled with passion and a bright, golden future can bring even the coldest of hearts to tears. Sitting and chatting over a home-cooked lunch over the similarities and differences of each other’s lives even though you live on the other side of the world. Merging clinical minds, cultural awareness, and passion together to make something great happen can form a bond between people that not many get to experience in their lifetime.

Orientation does not prepare you for any of these things because these are the kinds of things that you simply cannot be taught. All of these things are formed from the heart, these connections stay strong, and the passion grows as you learn from and teach each other. These connections are a personal experience that cannot be duplicated from person to person. They cannot be written on a white board and have Post-It notes stuck to them. They cannot be taught. They can only be experienced.

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