By: Alexis Adams
As I sit back and begin to tell all my stories to family and friends about my trip, I can’t help but feel grateful for every part of this experience such as creating amazing friendships, learning so much about the Chinese culture, the beautiful scenery, and the feeling of making an impact. I think the best part of my trip was facing many of the challenges that came along with being in a completely other country and navigating a foreign culture that is much different than my own. This was my first trip with SkillCorps and I chose to travel to NanChang, China because I wanted to start learning and experiencing other cultures than my own.
The first challenge I encountered was always being surrounded by people who spoke another language. Of course, I knew I would be faced with this, but I never knew just how uncomfortable it could be to not be able to communicate with others like I typically do. We had wonderful translators, but at times I noticed that somethings got lost in translation which could be frustrating. Although this was uncomfortable, I learned how to communicate much more effectively with everyone by the end of our two weeks.
Another challenge I was faced with was accepting the values of other when it comes to working with children with autism in China. I noticed that I kept thinking that they were wrong. But as I continued my journey with SkillCorps, I realized and asked myself- what makes me think my values are so much better and “right”? We all had the same goal, which was helping children with autism to achieve an independent, functional, and happy life. There is no right or wrong when it comes to our value systems as long as we are keeping the kids we work with safe and healthy. In fact, through this journey, I learned how to balance values and culature of the teachers I worked with and my own. Each challenge and difficult situation I came in contact with helped me grow immensely as a clinician and person. I think one of the most important and impactful things I learned on my trip was how to listen to understand. Most people are good and their reasons behind what they do are valid, it just takes time and patience to do it.
I don’t think I have the right words to explain just how amazing this experience has been for me. I look forward to see all of the great work that future SkillCorps members do in NanChang, and I can’t wait to start planning for my next trip!