By Shumaila Jaffrey, A member of the SkillCorps Indonesia July 2017 team
I took upon this journey of volunteering for SkillCorps after going back and forth about it for almost 2 years. My friend Wafa first told me about her experience and I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do – I just needed to build up the confidence to take that step.
I couldn’t be happier that I did.
Going in for orientation, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Going in for our 23 hour flight with 8 strangers, I wasn’t sure if I’d get along with them or how reserved I would be, as I usually am around unfamiliar people.
Going in the first day at the centre, I wasn’t sure how little ‘ole me could possibly pick up where another team had left off and participate in training unknown staff I had never even met.
From the first day though, I knew this trip would help me push so many boundaries, in so many ways.
The strangers became roommates, who then became friends. The unknown faces became partners geared towards the same goals – sustainable development and building acceptance.
At the beginning of every day at the centre, our discussions started with the same question – how can SkillCorps help partners get to where they want? For me, coming from a centre with a similar background as our partner site, this was a change in perspective. Rather than pressing forth our own processes and policies, SkillCorps prioritized the needs of our partners and how they can achieve sustainability with their resources. Rather than one person giving their recommendation, a team of people with vastly different experiences put their minds together to come up with what would work specifically for our partner site. Rather than picking training topics we thought were important, we asked our partners what they were having difficulty achieving. Rather than suggesting short-term changes, we looked for ways to make a sustainable impact long after we were gone.
And somewhere in the process of being the teacher, I realised I became the learner.
I learned from our partners Hotik and Rani what it means to be so passionate about something that you give your everything to it; what it means to fight against the odds and stand up for the right cause; what it means to commit to excellence, surpassing all language barriers.
I learned from the Rumah Tiara educators what it means to have a team that in reality, functions more as a family than anything else – teaching each other, supporting and learning from each other, all the while having the most radiant smiles on their faces, every single day. I learned how to always find a “plus” in any day, and how my delta’s should be things I have the power to change, to make myself better.
I learned from my own team that even with such different professional and personal backgrounds, each person brings something unique to the table. I learned that working with friends makes two weeks seem to fly by.
I learned how I shouldn’t be afraid of sharing my quirks with others, because everyone has their own quirks that makes them special. I stepped out of my comfort zone by sharing myself with my team without reservations, and in return, I found the most fantastic bunch of humans who made me feel comfortable right from day one.
The biggest thing I can say to anyone hoping to embark on a journey with SkillCorps is this:
Don’t underestimate yourself and the impact people can have on each other, even if you feel like you don’t have anything worth offering.
If you’ve come this far to be thinking about SkillCorps, you already know you want to make a difference. Being a part of SkillCorps will help you make that difference – not just for so many others in partner sites but for yourself too.
I have truly been blessed to play a small part in the monumental vision that Rumah Tiara embodies. I only hope that I am able to carry on what they have taught me, and that my part in their vision continues in some way.