Jackson Holzberg Buckley, a Plaza staff member, writes:
To me, one of the most inspiring aspects of Denver Public Library’s Plaza Program is that it is a community in which records are not kept.
For most of my life, I’ve held the belief that if I don’t somehow prove myself in advance, I won’t receive help. That if I’m not already a person of achievement and renown, I’m not worth much. I think these feelings are common in our world, and that we reinforce them through negative self-talk, focus on image, and getting stuck in our own heads. Through worry about whether or not we matter, we narrow our worlds and our communities to zero.
At the Plaza Program, people come together to give and receive help through a forum in which they need not even share their names. While working here, I’ve seen a woman in an English conversation table pull up photos of her home country, Syria, and share with the class the trials of her family there. I’ve seen a father produce a birthday card for his daughter in an art session, painting in broad strokes his love and commitment to her. I’ve seen students study, practice for, and ace the U.S. citizenship test, becoming part of our American community with a grin. At the Plaza program, I’ve seen people advance and enjoy themselves in just about any way they request or desire, and not once have they had to prove their worth.
The inspiring aspect of this is the possibility of a world in which we are all deemed worthwhile before we quantify or prove ourselves, not after. This would be a world in which two people meeting at a crossroads would be interested not in where the other comes from, but in where they are going. A world in which someone’s citizenship status would matter less than the fact that they want to contribute to their community. In which borders would cease to exist.
I’m proud to be a part of bringing this better world to life, and not only for others: through working at the Plaza Program, I’ve begun to understand that I am worthwhile prior to achievement, and that if I want something from the world, I need merely ask. This takes me out of my head, out of my status as an American citizen, and into the broader spectrum of human community. In a word, it makes me feel alive and whole.
If you’re interested in visiting the Plaza Program, please check the events calendar for a branch near you. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a U.S. citizen. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how literate, or what you’d like to do. So long as you’re a human being, we’ll welcome you, and not only that: we’ll enrich our own lives in the process.
Plazas are an open community space where immigrants from all over the world connect with people, information, and resources, building Denver’s global community. Come to practice a language, prepare for citizenship, pursue your goals, and create your future. Whatever you’re doing, we can help! Please see our events calendar for more information.