By Ksenia Kravtchenko, a leader of the SkillCorps Czech Republic October 2017 team, and a doctoral student in the Ph.D. program in Applied Behavior Analysis at the Van Loan School at Endicott College

As many of us do at the start of the New Year, I made a New Year’s resolution for 2017. 2016 was a busy year – including international travel as a volunteer through Global Autism Project and presenting at a conference for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for the first time. I wanted to slow things down and take a temporary break from taking on new adventures and responsibilities. Then, four days into the New Year, my short-lived resolution was broken.

Molly Ola Pinney, the founder and CEO of Global Autism Project, messaged me asking if I was fluent in Russian. Within the first hour of the conversation, I was making plans to travel to Prague, Czech Republic, to help start a new partnership at ABA Centrum, a center run by a Czech- and Russian-speaking clinician.

As I begin to wrap up my fourth trip to Czech Republic in 2017, I reflect on an amazing year of collaboration with the team at ABA Centrum. A year of witnessing countless smiles, first words, and marked decreases in behavioral challenges. A year of renewed hope in parents, some of whom had no prior knowledge of autism prior to their child’s diagnosis. A year of weekly Skype calls between Katrin and me, discussing the successes and areas for growth for the center, as well as everything from functional communication training to toileting. A year of personal and professional growth, of new friendships, and professional relationships. A year made possible by a broken resolution.

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