By Katharin Pappas, a member of the SkillCorps Indonesia February 2017 team
Every evening, SkillCorps teams reflect on the day using the plus/delta model. A “plus” might be a favorite moment or accomplished objective, while the “delta” signifies something you’d like to change moving forward. This process promotes daily growth and accountability in that it is an opportunity to acknowledge the strengths of fellow team members and center staff, while also identifying areas for improvement both personally and as a group. As the Indonesia team wrapped up our second day in Bekasi, there was a clear theme during our reflections: Empowerment. A Rumah Tiara teacher shared that she was proud of a SkillCorps member for coming out of her shell and displaying increased confidence in her own ideas. A SkillCorps member praised a teacher for displaying a strong grasp of ABA principles. The team leader thanked everyone for contributing innovative, considered suggestions for managing problem behaviors. It became obvious that this was a group of people that was not focused on personal goals, but rather on empowering others to be the best version of themselves for the purpose of reaching a common goal: allowing the students at Rumah Tiara to reach their fullest potential. In pushing one another to search for the answers to our own questions, we are forming a partnership. By empowering our peers to solve problems independently and offering gentle guidance when needed, the ultimate goal of the Global Autism Project – sustainability – is well within reach.
Our week at Rumah Tiara has been a whirlwind; it’s truly amazing how much has been accomplished thus far. In only two days time, the teachers have demonstrated a strong foundation of knowledge that will only continue to grow as we progress through discussions of behavior reduction, reinforcement and pairing strategies, and prompts and prompt fading. Their enthusiasm for learning and dedication to their students is inspiring and infectious. Whereas most of us might dread unexpected changes to our workday, the staff at Rumah Tiara were visibly excited and completely unfazed when a student showed up for a last minute session; even better, the student appeared to be just as happy. In witnessing this commitment to quality work, we are undoubtedly learning just as much from them they are from us – a sure sign of an effective partnership.
Vya, a part-time educator at the center, is just one of the dedicated women with whom we have been fortunate enough to collaborate this week. As both a teacher at Rumah Tiara and a therapist to underprivileged children, she spends most of her time empowering others to reach their fullest potential. “I just love playing with kids,” she told me. “I just want to help them move one step forward in their lives.” Vya hopes to become a Behavior Analyst, and is making plans to attend a Master’s program in the fall. She feels a calling to do this not only because she, as she puts it, “loves to play,” but because the government doesn’t pay enough attention to children with special needs. “People underestimate kids with disabilities,” she believes. Vya wants to pursue a career in Behavior Analysis because she sees a lack of resources dedicated to Autism support in her local community. She points to local stereotypes regarding special needs children in addition to a perceived lack of career options in the field as causes for this gap in services. Working with SkillsCorps, Vya shares, has helped her to find more practical ways to incorporate the principles of ABA into her teaching; she also hopes that she can play a role in destigmatizing the Autism label as she becomes more experienced.
If the passion that Vya and her fellow teachers have regarding the success of their students is any indication of the future direction of Rumah Tiara, I feel certain that subsequent SkillCorps teams will only witness continuous growth of this center. I can’t wait to follow their journey!