Plaza Voices: The More I Learn, The Less I Know

By Breanne Vailes, Plaza Activity Leader

Humble, wise, and authentic people live and breathe the saying, “The more I learn, the less I know." Being curious and learning often leave someone with the understanding that there is much left to know. In her book Braving the Wilderness, researcher and social worker Brene Brown expands upon this concept to describe the discomfort and triumphs that accompany vulnerability in facing challenges.

Why be vulnerable?

Brown says, “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” Taking steps to learn more and try new experiences requires courage. Let’s take a moment to celebrate Welcoming Week by commemorating the brave ones who participate in DPL’s Plaza programming. Plaza participants embrace vulnerability and rise toward a stronger future. Brown expands upon rules of engagement for rising strong—the first five of which are listed below.

“If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall; this is the physics of vulnerability.”
When learning a new language, no one pronounces the words accurately all of the time. Failure is necessary in practicing English, and resilient Plaza participants embrace their mistakes in order to deepen their language skills. 

“Once we fall in the service of being brave, we can never go back.”
Loss is a theme of most refugees’ and immigrants’ stories. They cannot go back to old ways of life, and taking steps in a new life can be overwhelming. The brave ones mourn for the past yet still live in the present, looking toward a better future. Even though what was lost can never be regained, they know that moving beyond trauma is the only way to reach their goals.

“This journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone.”
The heart of Plaza is not to practice English, craft art projects, or study for citizenship tests. The underlying mission is to build a positive community. No one is meant to face challenges without others’ presence, advice, and support.

“We’re wired for story.”
According to Brown, people are biochemically predispositioned to give and receive stories in order to make meaning and connect with others. Just sit in on an English conversation table to witness this rule of engagement in action.

“Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our hearts through our hands.”
It is no accident that children and adults alike are invited to make art with one another at Plaza. Creating art is a physical representation of the ability to form something unique and appealing out of seemingly unrelated objects. People can take pieces of their lives and mold them into something beautiful. 

This blog post introduces you to the first chapter of Brown's Braving the Wilderness. Feel free to dive into some of Brene Brown's other books here.

Plazas are an open community space where migrants 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 web page for more information.

Written by Plaza Voices on September 17, 2019