By Ann Marie Hammell, a member of the SkillCorps Indonesia February 2018 team

Each morning when our team enters Rumah Tiara we are greeted with warm “selemat pagi’s” and tangible enthusiasm from Rani and Hotik. To top it off, our hosts also add a spread of new Indonesian snacks for us to try each morning. Day after day we try different kinds of fruits and sweets because of their generosity and desire for us to experience as much of Indonesian culture as we can while we’re there, even down to the little things like the typical snacks they eat. One treat that is always present is a small dish of mints and candies. They are wrapped in bright colors and marked with inspirational messages in Behasa and English that offers us a short and sweet language lesson. My favorite message has been “pasti bisa” which translates to “yes you can”. A lot of the Behasa I’ve learned here will get jumbled in my head but this phrase has really stuck with me. Disclaimer: it might have stuck with me so well because when pronounced it sounds like a slurred “pass the pizza”. However, pizza or no pizza, I’ve held onto this message because there have been obstacles each day to overcome and each day we’ve needed the support of each other to get through them. 

I’ve had several of my own personal battles with this phrase, fighting the small voice inside that told me I was “just”— just an RBT, just starting in this field, just in country for two weeks, just this, just that, but somehow always just small. The rational side of me knew those weren’t truths but the emotional parts found seeds of doubt to plant. During this trip I’ve needed to remind myself of Marianne Williamson’s words and remember that my playing small does not serve the world. When I would second guess my role on the team, I was brought back to that tiny purple candy. Yes, you can. When I would question whether or not I had something substantial to add to the training, I would see the candy dish in my peripherals. Yes, I can. When we would debrief after the work day, I would ask myself if I done everything I could. Yes, I did. I was so fortunate because in the midst of my struggles, I wasn’t alone. I had teammates to lean on and to encourage me to keep going because yes, I could. The thing was that no part of what we were doing was small, so even if I did try to put it there, my involvement refused to be placed in a box. We were all there for a reason, all playing a vital role that made up one cohesive unit that supported each other. 

One afternoon I had been sitting next to Rani on the floor, leaned back against the wall with her while we went over antecedent strategies and replacement behavior strategies. We did multiple role play scenarios, looked at specific client cases and discussed implementation of behavior intervention plans. Throughout the day as we talked about difficult situations and role played challenging scenarios, Rani would lean over to me and almost collapse into my side.  I would respond to her with my new Behasa phrase, “Yes, you can!” Then she would shake her shoulders a bit and sit a little straighter. These exchanges were little things, things that happened in a matter of seconds but as the days went on, I watched her continue to step into a new confidence. She is someone who is so incredibly capable and intelligent, yet I know just like I fall prey to insecurities, she does too. The difference is that the circle of support in Bekasi is limited but it’s so crucial. Sometimes support does look like physically being held up by another person when things get a little heavy to hold. Sometimes support looks like an encouraging word that shows the trust and confidence in another person leading them to be able to find those very qualities in themselves. Whatever it looks like in any given moment, we all need it. I am so grateful to be someone to lean and to broaden that support circle a tiny bit. I am grateful to experience so clearly how freeing your own light can help others shine themselves. I am grateful to step up as a confident woman empowering another woman to walk in confidence because this kind of empowerment is a chain reaction that next reaches you. Hey you, pass the pizza.