In the final week of the 3rd Tivnu gap year program, the participants planned a siyyum, which is a traditional Jewish way of celebrating the completion of a book of Torah or other Jewish learning. The Tivnuniks were proud to gather at the end of their nine months together to celebrate all that they learned in this chapter of their lives. A few Tivnuniks felt inclined to share some words about what they learned and created this year. Below you will find Noah Jones’ speech.
9 months is a loooong time. I came here a little scared and not knowing what to expect. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to take care of myself without the help of my parents because this was my first time being away from them for an extended period of time.
My time working at Hazelnut Grove especially taught me that I can do more than take care of myself. I learned that I can interact with people that I never thought I could talk to without sounding phony. I learned that I can build tiny 8 x 8 homes from recycled materials and make a difference in someone’s life.
My favorite part of working at Hazelnut Grove was seeing how excited and grateful the residents were because we were helping them literally rebuild their lives. In all the months of working there I never felt uncomfortable because the residents always greeted us with smiles, and made us feel welcome by asking us how our day was going or by offering us food and drinks. Seeing people who have nothing, or close to it, act so gracious and inviting made me feel happy and inspired to wake up early and volunteer my time there.
Don’t get me wrong: getting paid would have been real nice. But it would have felt like somewhat of an injustice because at the end of the day I have a nice warm bed with a mattress pad calling my name, I don’t worry about where my next meal is coming from, and I have a great support system in place behind me. Considering the fact that some of the residents of Hazelnut Grove don’t even have half or any of those things and still go out of their way to learn my name and learn what I’m about with a smile on their face, the least I could do is volunteer my time to help them build a better life.