Krystina Gilhuly is a behavior analyst and currently traveling with SkillCorps to Indonesia.
After completing the first work week, three phrases come to mind that summarize the experience. Language barriers, comfort zone, having fun.
Presenting to an audience and engaging in hands-on training has its own challenges. Add the language barrier and things get more complicated. One has to pause often and hope that the translation was accurate. Luckily, our translator is the clinical director of Hi-5 Centre and has been receiving training for the past few years from the Global Autism Project. The other great thing is that we were able to do role plays to ensure understanding of the topic. You could see the progression of the participants skills build over the days.
The language barrier affected many aspects of travel despite many people speaking broken English. I had no idea what food was, how to communicate with taxi drivers, and how to go shopping. We would spend time reading the menus and trying to memorize Bahasa words. We also got some double meals when we changed our mind and they didn’t understand. I think we all had a running list of commonly used Bahasa words. We struggled with effectively communicating with the driver on little details but we always get where we needed. Other areas like shopping made asking details difficult and calculators (to type in the price) necessary. In all, despite a language barrier we are able to still communicate.
The second and third phrases go together (Living out of your comfort zone and having fun). I love to think of the saying that magic happens outside of your comfort zone. It truly did this trip. I would never have experienced the magic of Indonesia and SkillCorps without having left my own comfort zone. One of the many things that I did was fly across the country with strangers to meet strangers. I met some of the most amazing people on the team and in the country.
I don’t like speaking in front of groups. But when I did, I was able to teach with my teammates a group of people and see the excitement that they had for learning how to better help children with special needs. We would laugh and support each other’s as we did role plays. The best thing was when we taught each other a skill and the “child” (the other adult) got the correct answer or an independent response. The whole room would light up with smiles and loud praise.
These are just some of the many things that have brought me out of my comfort zone. Without jumping out of that zone, I never would have experienced Indonesia like I did.