By Raakel Garcia-Chacon, a member of the SkillCorps Dominican Republic June 2016 team

Since my trip began, I have ridden in 2 planes, the NY subway, 15+ taxis, and squished several times with my 5 colleagues in a small car with no seatbelts, sitting on laps. I have slept in 7 different beds, in 6 different locations, and when I sat down to think about my trip so far, I thought to myself, “Man, that’s a lot of transitions!” The experiences I have had so far have been incredibly exciting, rewarding, terrifying, and wholeheartedly life-changing.

I have enjoyed working at Centro Aprendo, and watching the incredible therapists engage with their students with more passion and love than I could imagine. The people in the center have been welcoming and eager to learn from our team, and we have been rewarded in return to learn from them.

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While I feel as though I have been able to achieve great professional growth on this trip, I think my greatest take away thus far, is that transitioning is HARD for me, and I have had to deal with feeling uncomfortable, anxious, and nervous about the changes ahead. But, at the end of the day, I have been reminded that I have a roof over my head, food and water, and people who care about me, and that is all that matters. Everything is temporary, and if I can just fight through the negative feelings, I can be okay and I can achieve comfort in situations that make me squirm.

I have fought my way through a language barrier, but I’ve impressed myself with my abilities to speak Spanish if I just try. I have set several goals for myself after this trip is over, one being to enroll in some sort of Spanish language course. Second, is to strive to be a better member of society and try my best to make an impact in meaningful ways.

Through the process of learning about the Global Autism Project and what their mission and vision are, I have learned the importance of making a sustainable impact, and how important it is to be open and understanding of other cultures; and how our purpose as volunteers is not to force the help, answers, and change upon the people, but to serve as listeners to help in meaningful ways to guide those asking for help. Also, the desired impact cannot be done by one team over a two-week period, but involves long-term investment and commitment to serve. I am invested in serving others, and I feel that this trip is just the beginning to a wonderful journey ahead. 

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