Well folks, our “summer” trips are officially finished at the Global Autism Project (except for our SKillCorps Kenya August trip, which has actually become our very first “autumn” SkillCorps trip as it is now scheduled for October.) I was not on the Peru trip this summer, just India and Indonesia. But I’ve been reflecting back on my experience of the summer, and I realized we spent a lot of time talking about comfort zones.
We all have different comfort zones. SkillCorps definitely pushes you outside your comfort zone. For some it’s traveling in another country period, for some its sleeping in a strange bed and sharing a room with someone, for some it’s teaching in a country where English isn’t the primary language. But here’s the thing about comfort zones—it’s a little like a well-worn piece of clothing. The more you stretch it bit by bit, the more comfortable it becomes. Soon, what was initially just outside of your comfort zone feels normal.
Then there are those experiences that catapult you WAY outside of your comfort zone. And that’s when you get this:
SkillCorps is way outside of our comfort zones—by design. SkillCorps is that “sweet spot” where the magic happens. I truly had the pleasure of seeing and “feeling” the nature of this magic when I was in between Indonesia and India and the India assembled for the first night. Honestly, I was really tired. Going directly from one SkillCorps trip to the next and flying 8 hours to get there was a little outside MY comfort zone. I already missed the Indonesia team and YCHI, and I wondered how I would summon the emotional and physical energy to lead another trip. Then the India team arrived. The first night we were all together, there was such a positive energy and enthusiasm, and I felt so lucky to be able to be part of two amazing teams in one month. Being all together like this, fueled by passion, hope, and a little anxiety moves us from unrelated professionals to a cohesive team. When I think of SkillCorps, really, the image should look more like this:
For me, having never led a SkillCorps trip before, leading two back to back was outside my comfort zone. But I can now say with certainty that being outside of your comfort zone really IS where the magic happens. Where before I felt exhausted and a little dubious about my own abilities, after I met the India team, I feel completely rejuvenated. It reminded of why I fell in love with this organization in the first place. SkillCorps is hard—I’ll be the first to say so. It will challenge you in ways you never dreamed of. But that’s really where the magic happens. Learning to trust the process is truly one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself as a professional. If you haven’t been on SkillCorps, really think about having the opportunity to give yourself this gift. Step outside your own comfort zone and meet in the middle with others—after all, this is where the Global Autism Project happens.
Emily Johnson, Research and Training Coordinator