Amreen Panjwani is a SkillCorps Indonesia team member and currently in the field.
It’s finally here, the start of the July 2016 Indonesia trip, and it starts with training in Brooklyn. From the moment I decided I wanted to participate with the Global Autism Project (which I will now refer to as GAP), people have been asking how I feel and what do I expect, and my response has usually been “I don’t know.” Let me go ahead and tell you, I am pleasantly surprised with all of the information shared with us during training.
So I usually have worked with early intervention kiddos, meaning kids less than 7. And with that, a lot of my experience is with lower functioning children. One of my first interactions when I walked into the office was with an adult with autism. Something I did not know was that GAP employs and interns adults with autism, and I can honestly say that for multiple reasons it is AMAZING. First, it helps integrate these individuals as contributing members of our society while also allowing them to feel a sense of purpose. I think a sense of purpose is something we all look for within our lives, so that is absolutely amazing. It also, I think, humbles those who interact and work with these individuals. It is so easy to get lost in our day to day lives, even for me who works with children with developmental disorders, that I forget the simple satisfaction of things. Just listening and interacting with these amazing people for two short days was such a healthy reminder to basically stop and smell the flowers. That, like negativity, joy and beauty can be found all around us and it is up to us to look for the light.
All in all, it was a great training. There was so much else we learned, including the fact that we will be using a squaty-potty (yes, you read that correctly), but more on those as this trip continues. Until then, I will leave you with a quote from one of the beautiful people working at GAP, Alex: “Say it like you mean it!”
Photo: the beautiful people working at GAP and taking part in this beautiful journey to Indonesia with me. Missing: Molly, CEO of GAP, and Rusty, another amazing individual at GAP.