The Terror of Learning

Learning can be scary because it inherently implies detachment from currently held beliefs and understandings. It can be a threat to our individual or group identity.

Alternatively, I see learning as an opportunity to grow. While we may choose to shift our position as a result of something we have learned, learning can also result in having a more expansive view or increased flexibility to shift our perspective. We can do both while remaining still in the same spot, in the safety of our core values and purpose.

The Othering of Me

As a Jewish student at an evangelical Christian university, I have learned a lot about myself. This experience has both strengthened my Jewish identity and increased my understanding of what it truly means to be part of the outgroup. During my first residency in September 2010, I sat in my car and cried during lunch. It took all of the strength I had not to drive home, abandoning my dream of pursuing a doctorate. Because of one bad experience that day, I continued to interpret every experience in the program through the lens of being a Jew rather than as a complete multidimensional person. Being the outsider heightened my sensitivity, and I had difficulty bonding with other students in the program.

Today, I consider many of the students in my cohort and the program overall as some of my most valued friends and colleagues. I hope that we have learned from each other over the years, and that we continue to see differences as opportunities to learn about each other and ourselves.

To them, and to you, I wish a Merry Christmas.