I’ve gained a new skill in the last month: connection. As a recent college graduate, my last year has been peppered with new moves, new jobs, and new people. At times I’ve struggled to figure out exactly what it means to have a place, to have a safe space, and to make meaningful connections. As a new Maker Mentor, I’ve spent the last month rotating through the North Philadelphia libraries to learn Maker Jawn Initiative programming in preparation for facilitating making at the Lillian Marrero Branch. This time has been invaluable; not because I’ve spent it memorizing lesson plans, but because I’ve had to opportunity to meet, work and play with my fellow Mentors and all of the Makers that regularly attend their programs. For the first time this year, I’ve felt connected.
For me, this means that I’ve been able to spend time individually with many of the Makers. This month I’ve taught them how to use Adobe Photoshop to make posters for their rooms at home, LED Jack-o-Lanterns to decorate for Halloween and how to sew purses, doll dresses, backpacks, and pillows, among other things. My training rotations have afforded me the luxury of being a second hand at Maker Jawn sites, which invariably means that my fellow Mentors and I have had the time to work closely with individual Makers, depending on daily attendance. It’s here that I feel a connection with the Makers. I get to teach them new skills on a deep detailed level, and I have the time to reinforce those skills. I enjoy encouraging Makers to embrace challenges, and then watching their projects grow more complicated. I love the reward of seeing these projects finished, and the reward when the Makers ask if I’ll be back next week.