By Callie Plattner, a member of the SkillCorps Dominican Republic June 2016 team

Part One

I’ve been engaging in a substantial amount of private verbal behavior over the last 24 hours.  One does a lot of “thinking” when they are about to travel out of the country for 2 weeks to a place unknown.  I walked out of my home on June 8th and thought, “This is the beginning”.  I sat down on the plane after a 4 hour delay and said to myself “Here we go, this is the beginning”.  I arrived in Brooklyn, New York, checked into the hotel and met two of my teammates for the first time.  As I walked into the restaurant, I thought, “This is the beginning”.  Today, on our first day of training, 5 team members walked down the city block and into the Global Autism Project office.  I thought again, “Now, NOW, this is really the beginning”.  I have no doubt I will continue to say this similar mantra over the next two weeks.  As I get on the plane at JFK tomorrow, when we arrive in Santo Domingo, and then when we enter Aprendo Center on Monday.  While there are going to be so many “new beginnings”, my hope is that when I touch down in Raleigh, North Carolina at the end of the trip I will still say to myself “This is the beginning”.  At the end of these two weeks I hope to be changed and be absolutely certain that this is NOT the end, and I will be inspired to continue this mission of awareness and sustainability for autism treatment. This is just the beginning.

Part 2

5 strangers were asked today “Who are you?” and “Who will you be?”.  What scary and real questions to have to answer in front of people you just met.  Should you be honest? What about our flaws? What if no one appreciates my strengths? But, we know, no matter how much we want to hide from that reality, these are the questions that will soon be answered.  “Who are you?” will be answered as we get to know one another, live together, work together, and serve together.  Most importantly, our Skillcorps team will grow together, learn together, and challenge one another to answer the question “Who will you be?”. I cannot wait to get on the ground in Santo Domingo and see the strengths, fears, hopes, and goals we wrote on post-its become a reality.

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