Aurora Trujillo: Tah-ah!

I think that my mom supported my move to Big Sky Country as a teacher because she thought I needed adulthood to hit me good. I don’t know why I say, “I think”, because she plainly said so. Yes, people can maybe recognize their flaws in college, but teaching for the first time throws them right in your face. So here I am with these weaknesses that must be corrected in order to be successful in this position, and I went to work on them. I will leave from here more confident. It was the time to put away the carelessness and become more responsible in living for others.

I cannot compare my experience to the experience my mother faced as a young woman raising my brothers, but every now and then I wonder if we had the same thoughts in teaching children. In the fall, as a cross country coach I traveled around Montana for meets with my small team. I would drive along in a minivan and laugh inside as I found myself duplicating the things my mother would shout at us during road trips: “We’re not going anywhere until you put that seatbelt on!”, “Hold it, sweetie, I’m looking for a place to stop!” or tower over them with judgmental eyes for selecting junk food in the convenience store. In one instance, everyone in the van was asleep while I drove home from a cross country meet, and looking at them in the rear view mirror, I felt extremely proud of all of them and was content with my surroundings.

“Tah-ah” means “thank you” in our Tiwa language, and usually the first word Taos Pueblo mothers teach their children. My mother was no exception to this, teaching the social norms of gratitude the people in our culture value. I would say that my desire to serve can be focused at times. I was taught that community, the community I was raised in, was most important. Expanding that focus, I feel a responsibility, a need, to serve Indian Country. I feel like I got very lucky in my service placement. Although I could have been happy serving in any other place, I am especially thankful to be placed on the Blackfeet Reservation.

I cannot speak on behalf of my students of the value of my service to them. I cannot rightfully gauge the impact I have made on their lives. But in my own life, as I reflect on my service year, I see myself transformed for the better. There are weaknesses in myself that I have been forced to confront, joys that have been discovered from the simplest moments, perceptions that have been changed in me, and so many things that I have been thankful for in this experience. My mother continues her lessons in appreciation by her support for me in my role at De La Salle.

Here’s to you mom!

For not letting me quit when things started out rough.

For doing everything in your power from afar to keep me encouraged.

For trusting in my decision to challenge myself into a year of service.

For mailing me blankets.

For mailing me an electric blanket.

For showing me that you are proud of me.

For writing me letters.

For listening to my stories of my students, and how they are changing my life.

For making me look good, and donating to the teams I coached.

For raising me with faith, and to have faith.

For raising me with a desire to serve others with my whole life.

I would like to not only thank my mother for raising me with a spirit of gratitude, but for all mother figures that might have cultivated that same spirit in volunteers everywhere and inspired them to serve.


Aurora Trujillo, 12-13, De La Salle Blackfeet School, Browning, MT

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