Making connections.

January 20th, 2016, 4pm

Today I started volunteering at an elementary school. I have been volunteering at this school for almost three years and I love it. My career path has changed, who I am as a person changed, but once a week during the school year I get on the bus and ride it for almost a half hour to get to the school. The kids are starting to remember me from one year to the next, the teachers and other people in the school remember me and my story. I originally wanted to be a teacher, and you need a lot of volunteer hours before you can even apply for the College of Education so I called my old resource teacher and asked if she would mind me hanging around once a week for a while. So I started making my first connections of my own. They know what I can do, how I’m skilled at helping kids who need more help, all on my own.

Today I spent about fifteen minutes in a kindergarten classroom but in those fifteen something happened that might change my life. Between the way the classroom furniture was arranged and where the door was, I almost immediately was standing at the front of the classroom. This resulted in the teacher introducing me to the class and all 15 or so 5-year-olds said “HI MARIAH” in unison. Right after this, a little girl who was sitting right in front of me loudly asked “WHAT’S THAT THING ON YOUR NECK?!” to which I responded with my usual I don’t breath in my sleep so I connect a machine to my trach that breaths for me at night.

After all of this, the teacher says “Who else do we know who has a trach like Mariah?” “GRAHAM!” They then start talking to me about my trach and my medical stuff the best they could because they knew someone with my needs, therefore they weren’t scared or worried about it, it was a part of their school day, and I loved that.

Once I left I sent a Facebook Message to this child’s mother because I know through a few mutual friends and I told her about my day and what happened. She was amazed that I was in her son’s classroom when he wasn’t there and that his classmates were more open with me than they were in the past. She then asked me why I was there I told her that I originally wanted to be a teacher and I was getting some volunteer hours at the school. She then offered if I would like her to put a word in for me with her husband who worked at the community school. Which is different from where I am currently because community schools are in less affluent neighbourhoods, unlike Silverspring.

I was making connections and contacts through a few random decisions. That’s how most contacts are made, someone decided to go into a field to later discover that they know people in that field and got a job based on that relationship. Now it’s my turn.

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Mariah Hillis

History buff living with chronic health problems. Lives life to the fullest, and dreams the biggest dreams, despite not being able to breathe in her sleep.

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