You know how you have that gut feeling, and you just know something in your heart to be true? I’m Ruby, and I just knew in my heart that I wanted to be in Tivnu the minute I heard about it. I’m so so so so SO lucky to have Tivnu.
When I decided to create a piece of art about my Tivnu experience, I wanted to draw something that represented Portland and Tivnu at the same time. I was going to draw the bridges of Portland, but I didn’t want to-that wasn’t original…so I chose a bike helmet. I see so many people riding bikes in Portland! I LOVE Portland. I love how Portland accepts people’s diversity. I love how easy it is to access transportation, like the busses I take to work every day… I feel like it’s a place for me. You know how Disneyland is the place for Mickey Mouse? Portland is the place for Ruby.
The helmet also represents safety. I feel safe in Tivnu- I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t feel safe. I feel like I have a voice here. When we have “family meetings” (weekly gatherings for everyone in our house), go to Educational Explorations, and have group conversations, people’s voices are being heard. One time I was talking to Adinah, our Program Director, and I told her about a situation I was having trouble with. I feel like she really listened to me in that moment and helped me work through it. She was really present and heard me. If she didn’t care about how we as participants felt, she wouldn’t have set aside time from her schedule specifically so we could meet about the situation. Instead of emailing me and saying “Hey, how do you feel about this?”, she took the time to really make me feel like I mattered.
The flowers represent togetherness. Like the Tivnoodles (our nickname for us gap year participants), I purposefully drew each one differently, because every Tivnoodle (and staff, of course), is different. They’re always on the ground, the flowers. They don’t just walk away and leave. They stay and support you. The Tivnu community has supported me a lot over the last couple months.
That support was no different today. This afternoon, we went to a vigil for the Pittsburgh shooting, and I got to see so many people there as a Portland community. At the end of the vigil, they sang “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” (aka “We Will Build this World with Love”), a song that we as Tivnuniks sing every Friday. I thought it was a perfect moment, bringing the whole picture together. It was Tivnu and Portland, on the same page, supporting me and each other. And I thought, “this is Gd”.
Want to experience a taste of that moment? Listen to “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” :
Written by Ruby Singmon, Tivnu Gap Year Participant 2018-2019. Ruby interns at Friendly House and Catholic Charities.