May 29, 2019

L’hitraot, T5: Bending the Cookie Cutter

On May 12, 2019, 3 representatives of our Tivnu 5 cohort gave some beautiful remarks at our Siyyum ceremony (graduation/completion). This is one of them! .

Bending the Cookie Cutter

Delivered by Micah Cohn

The very popular Milton Bradley game, The Game of Life, starts with going to college or getting a job. The very unsurprising problem with that, though, is that it doesn’t work for all students. I am one of those students. The short and simple answer as to why I did Tivnu was because high school was very hard for me and I was not ready for college and I did not fit into the cookie cutter format that is laid out in The Game of Life.

I don’t think I ever really accepted the fact that I wasn’t ready for college until I stepped foot off of the plane when I first arrived in Portland. And after a month or so in Portland, I realized how nice it was having a break from school. 13 years of school is a lot. I was not ready for college, but that is no longer the case.

That is no longer the case because of Tivnu. It would be an incredibly difficult task to tell you everything I have learned that in turn, has helped me grow, but in the words of Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother,” “Challenge Accepted.” Okay so as much as I would love to tell you about everything I have learned, if I did that, we might be here until Tivnu’s next cohort arrives this August. So for all of our sakes, I am going to focus on just a few things that have truly helped me grow.

Alright. Here we go. Living with people is hard. It is hard. Not impossible. I remember on one of my phone calls with Adinah just over a year ago where she asked me if I had ever lived with a roommate. The closest thing for me was living in a bunk at camp for a month every summer. There is one key difference between living in a bunk at camp for one month, and living in a house with five other people for nine months. At camp, dishes are not a problem. Living in an intentional community has given me invaluable skills on how to create and foster interpersonal relationships, and that sometimes, it is okay and maybe even necessary to sit in discomfort. That knowledge is something that I will carry with me throughout my life and will help me in every relationship I’ll have going forward.

My internships, they were great. I can’t talk about things I have learned this year without talking about my three internships. I worked at Sister’s of the Road one day a week. It is a non-profit barter cafe for people experiencing extreme poverty and houselessness. I worked alongside community members who I really enjoyed talking to and hearing their stories, something I also did when I was at construction. At both places, I was reminded of the importance of b’tzelem elohim, that we are all created in the image of God. We all deserve to be treated with dignity. We all deserve a place to stay and call home. We all deserve a nutritious meal. We all deserve a supportive community.

I think one of the things I will take most from my time at Lewis and Clark Law School’s Criminal Justice Reform Clinic is how it will help me further my education. Part of the reason school was hard for me was because I was not motivated. I couldn’t make the connection that the work I had to put into high school was going to help me get into college. I also didn’t have a clear goal. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. After eight months of my internship there, I want to be a criminal justice defense attorney. I know the steps I need to take to get there. And with a re-energized passion for learning after learning outside of the classroom, I can make the connection that I was not able to make before. I know I need to work hard in college so I can make it into law school, where I will need to put in more work than I ever have before, so I can ultimately become a lawyer.

Because of Tivnu’s experiential learning, living communally, and my internships, I am now ready for college. And I bent that cookie cutter way out of shape.

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