By Cailey Rodgers, a member of the SkillCorps Indonesia October 2015 team

“There is no greater threat to the critics, cynics, and fearmongers than a person who is willing to fall because they’ve learned how to rise.” — Brene Brown

Sometimes you need to travel halfway around the world to meet yourself. Traveling forces you to be your most resourceful, adaptable, resilient self. Working through homesickness, language barriers, and cultural differences can feel overwhelming at times. It’s in your most vulnerable moments, though, that you open yourself up to change.

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Since traveling with the Global Autism Project last July and being involved (i.e. obsessed) ever since, I’ve come to understand just how transformative an experience Skillcorps can be. Being thousands of miles away from home, with a van full of strangers all coming from different places with different experiences. The experience can challenge, motivate, inspire, and humble you in ways you never anticipated. It’s transformative. I know this because I’ve been through it before. Yet, change still comes when you least expect it, regardless of how prepared you think you are.

Middle Monday. The concept that, at some point during your trip, your team (or you!) will feel helpless, hopeless and ready to leave. It’s something you’re warned about during orientation and it sounds dramatic. It’s easy to brush it off with a “no way will that happen to me!” attitude. Understandably so — it’s nearly impossible to imagine that you’d feel anything other than ecstatic, hopeful and full of gratitude at any point during this amazing adventure! You’re contributing to sustainable global change with some of the best people on earth and exploring the great wonders of the world! But, it does happen, and you’re rarely ready for it. Yet, it’s always exactly what you need.

Quickly evolving from a vague discomfort to feeling deeply unsettled, you may fight change fiercely at first. You may think you don’t need it or that it’s not for you. However, Middle Monday shouldn’t be feared and avoided, rather embraced as an opportunity to reevaluate and transform. Collectively as a team or individually. By embracing vulnerability you can stop resisting change and welcome possibility and growth. You’ll emerge from the other side stronger and more resilient.

It’s THIS that makes this experience so unique, and what allows Skillcorps members to connect with our incredible partners on a very real level. Skillcorps attracts a certain type of person – those dreamers and doers who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and re-imagine who they could be to make a difference for these kids. Those willing to embrace vulnerability. They’re sent around the world to collaborate with courageous, passionate, driven, dreamers that are champions for children with autism in their own communities despite societal stigma, lack of awareness and limited resources. And together, that’s a force to be reckoned with.

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