9 participants. 6 states represented. 1 house to host them all.

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by Nomi Small

It’s the first week ever of the Tivnu: Building Justice Gap Year Program. The above statistics are a snapshot of the demographics of the group. We come from different types of schools, different regions of the country, we’ve got different areas of interest, and we have all chosen to try something new. Together.

Where does our new adventure start? Well aside from bonding with each other over the commonalities we’re discovering from our seemingly different lives, we’ve been exploring Portland, Oregon. Yes, we’ve had a scavenger hunt to see the different offerings in our neighborhood. Yes, we’ve walked to Northwest Portland to see the Pearl District, Powell’s bookstore, and discover our first pod (food cart cluster). But my favorite exploration was before any of that happened.

I was the first participant to see the new house on Tuesday and over the course of the day, the other 8 people filled in. We didn’t know anything about each other aside from the content of our Facebook profiles so we were all a bit anxious about how this was going to play out. At around 8 o’clock, the second to last participant walked in the doors (someone ended up coming in at 1am the next day). Everyone was exhausted and we could easily have all just fallen asleep. Instead, we pulled out Google maps and found the nearest ice cream place. Together.

The ice cream was really good but I think even more than that, that ice cream place became something we felt we had ownership of because we had discovered it on our own. This city is different from any other I’ve ever been to and exploring it together with my 8 newest friends is the best part of the adventure.

Monday we’ll leave for our camping trip. I’m excited to see the nature just outside the city and continue to develop the friendships that I’ve already started to build. While this first week has mostly been culture shock for me, I know that I will be able to conquer the larger challenges that are to come because there will be 8 people there to help me through it.

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