by Nguyen Thi Kieu Khanh (Kiki)
Team 5 of Knowmads
Whenever it starts is the right time.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
When it’s over, it’s over.
There was a time when I waited for my next drive at a car center, I sat on the bench and wrote my free journal about what I experienced in Knowmads. “I rarely talked about Knowmads Hanoi, oh maybe it is because I desire to keep it as my secret, my little thing in my life." I just told some friendly and lovely friends about my journey and my inspiration in Knowmads. Someone told me, "oh, I talked about Knowmads a lot there days!" I tend to do that when I love something with bright eyes.
Knowmads changed me? Yes, it did. Are you sure? Yes, I am. However, it cannot change me into a different kind of person than I was, it changed me into a special, mad and wonderful version of myself, an amazing person I always love and try to be. Knowmads is where I met those beautiful, mad people. They are as talented, inspiring and hopeful everyday I met them on the weekends.
I learnt from them instead, how to be like them. How to survive and be proud of them.
I love the moment when we have check-in, check-out session. Even though I didn’t talk much, I love listening to others’ opinions. That’s inspiring to me and raised the warmth I felt inside. Not an emotion I can express.
I usually feel warm and cozy in this community. We hug, we kiss, we are surrounded by love, happiness, encouragement, motivation, positive beliefs, oh such wonderful and active things..
The feeling when I would step out of my comfort zone to do something for them. They deserve that. I deserve that. We should do something we haven’t thought about before. I did. I didn’t know how brave it is but I felt my heart beat fast and my consciousness said it was right and it was comfortable. “You did well”. I can be myself more than I ever thought, yet I am still myself. Something mysterious. Something joyous. Something that I cannot describe when people say to me “Welcome Home.”
And after more than two years now, could I feel my memories and emotions again?
I decided to feel back. I searched for memories through every single picture we took during 7 weeks, I let my emotions travel from my eyes to my heart. I let all my old perspectives and new perspectives combine with each other.
Knowmads is where I transformed to be a better person, every day. Self-transformation. It allows me to do everything I want, no judgement, no politics, no rules, arms wide open, to be whatever I am, and all the love given unconditionally to me without any expectations.
Knowmads is selfish. It does not make anyone happy or bring happiness to anyone. It just shows love for the person inside, showing love from the circle with a stick, candles, a sound of powerful bell, a place-called-home when first stepping into the house, smiling, laughing, hugging so long, touching the hearts of others honestly and accepting the craziness of the people in the team.
Knowmads is crazy. I first started to play my ukulele during the time I learned at Knowmads. It made me brave enough to sing and play a song for our guest speaker and our beautiful dear team members. My sparkling moment appeared when I first decided to step out of my comfort zone. I was happy, and nervous, and scared. Knowmads brought me to several crazy zones which made me more grown-up while allowing me to stay lost.
It encourages people to do surprisingly creative things, to speak no words, or to play a football game. It asks people to draw like a child and keep writing even with many spelling errors in our notebook. It opens us up to everything without hesitation. It suggests us to listen more and speak less, to observe things.
“Then I was a man
I only went up the Hill
As I had time to kill
But kill I did all that was
Me and Mine
With Me and Mine gone
Lost all my will and skill
Here I am, an empty vessel
Enslaved to the Divine Will
And infinite skill”
There is a tradition in Mysore city, India. If you have something to do, you go up Chamundi Hill. And if you have nothing to do, you go up Chamundi Hill. If you fall in love, you go up Chamundi Hill. And if you fall out of love, you have to go up Chamundi Hill.
This idea reminds me of Knowmads. When I feel lost, I come to Knowmads. When I feel loved, I think about Knowmads. When I have nothing to do, Knowmads is already there, embracing me with its openness, and love. Everything can be faded, memories, emotions, people can leave you, but I choose to live with them, observing, looking back with gratitude and living in the present with fulfillment bliss, and the future will come regardless.
Learn More about the Knowmads Learning Journey
by Koyo Do
Team 9 of Knowmads
“It’s very important to be vulnerable and to show the things you’re afraid and ashamed of to everybody—not just to people you love but also to the public. That way, we have a connection. We create trust. ”
- Marina Abramovic, a world-renowned performance artist.
I always acknowledged the power of vulnerability in art. Art has helped me understand that I am not alone in this world, and that there are people out there who are also going through the same struggles, the same sorrow, and the same joy. Art brings us together. Take music, for instance. That one song is so relatable, it could have been about you. Just to realize that, probably whoever wrote that song has been in your shoes too.
But vulnerability is not exclusively for art pieces. What about vulnerability in daily life?
Vulnerability as an Invitation to Truly Connect
Being vulnerable, or exposing yourself, takes a lot of guts. It means that you have already accepted the fact that you run the risk of being ridiculed, being judged, and being hurt in search of that deep connection. For me, it is the kind of connection where everyone is accepted for being who they are - without judgement, without masks, without bullshit.
Realistically speaking, being vulnerable doesn’t magically bring true friends. In fact, true friends are pretty darn hard to find because we are all unique with unique experiences in this so diverse world. But when we finally establish a deep connection: We might have found a friend who we can share a long meaningful journey with, and we are making our lives fuller keeping relationships that really matter.
Vulnerability as an Instrument to Nurture Growth
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. This quote by Nietzsche is a bit cliche now, but nonetheless it is still a beautiful mentality that might help you pull through this unpredictable and intense experience we call “life”.
Being vulnerable is of course not a magic tool that automatically makes everyone around you vulnerable and authentic towards you. I still get hurt from time to time, but I ask myself: Is it fair to expect something from other people? Instead, why don’t I think of vulnerability as an opportunity for myself? It is an opportunity to get to know myself better through social interaction, to learn what is important to me, and to establish healthy boundaries.
Vulnerability as a Medium to Construct an Everlasting Team
At Knowmads, I had a chance to practice deep listening with a group of strangers.
We always start and end our day with a process called “check in” and “check out”. It is a ritual where we listen to each other without judgement, without interruption - just respect and understanding. That’s when I realized how powerful vulnerability truly is: We can all facilitate and be part of a community where everyone has each other’s backs.
When we all can empathize with each other, I certainly believe that we can walk through anything together - it’s us vs. the problem.
Something we can Ponder Together
According to a research on trust by Mekong Development Research Institute, a whooping 42.57% of the surveyed people in Vietnam states that they rarely let their guards down in any interaction with others.
What has happened to them and caused them to lose faith in others?
Will we have healthier relationships when we all open our hearts to one another, and give each other a chance?
I do not have the answer to those questions. But I do know that, since I’ve started opening my heart and opening my mind, my world has become richer and richer everyday.
What about you? Which beautiful side of you are you going to show a stranger today?