By Marianne Spiotta, a member of the SkillCorps® India July 2018 team

This experience pushes you out of your comfort zone in all ways and like nothing I have ever done before. And yet at the same time, while you are in that uncomfortable and murky place, you have no choice but to push yourself further to become a better you. 

Isn’t it funny how when you begin this journey, you just want to help. Fundraising is the first thing that mildly pushes you out of your comfort zone. For me, it definitely was uncomfortable, but after a while, you get used to it. It ends up getting easier to ask people to support you. You find clever and creative ways to ask for support and most people are happy to do so. 

As the trip gets closer and closer, thinking about logistics, packing and vaccines become the next thing to challenge you – how am I going to fit everything that I “need” into a backpack and carry-on? Which vaccines should I get? Do I really need the typhoid vaccine and anti-malaria pills?

Then it’s on to orientation in Brooklyn, NYC which was nothing but inspiring. To hear the stories of past trips and how the Global Autism Project began was so inspiring. The training again pushes you out of your comfort zone. You are in a city that’s probably new to you with a roommate that you’ve never met before. The training exposes you to the possibilities of things that you might encounter on your trip. What makes you uncomfortable and HOW uncomfortable?

And then it’s trip time. You are ready to go with your team. This time, our trip is to Chandigarh, India. I cannot tell you all of the ways I have been pushed out of my comfort zone. I think in every way – from the food and my digestion, to the smells, to the weather and humidity like my hair has never seen before, to a culture that is different than mine, to my own insecurities of having the desire to help at the center and feeling the possibility of being inadequate.

And through all of this that is uncomfortable and murky to the newcomer, it is an opportunity like no other for personal growth. This experience forces you to push yourself to your limits and persevere to make a difference in the world, but also makes you more confident, more authentic, more grateful.