Kitchen Table in St. Augustine

By Ashton

[Our first “Kentucky Kitchen Table” was in St. Augustine, Florida with several students who attend school in Kentucky.]

At my Kitchen Table, there were ten total people.  My father, Allen, was there.  He works in Jacksonville at Commercial Diving Academy. It is a technical trade institute that teaches diving and underwater welding.  He works in the administrative side of the company. My mother, Ann, was there as well.  She is a proof-reader for various companies in Florida.  She was mainly a stay at home mother until my sister and I both graduated high school.  My dad invited Mark, one of his coworkers.  Mark has been working with my dad for the past 5 years.  He is in his mid-twenties and teaches one of the welding classes at CDA.  Lauren was another guest.  She is one of my mother’s friends and works at the library down the street from our house.  Lauren brought one of her coworkers, Stephanie.  Stephanie is from Gainesville and is currently in veterinary school. The rest of the guests I knew beforehand: Casey, Lataya and Brittany.  All four of us go to WKU together and they all came home with me for spring break.  Casey is from Northern Kentucky, but his family is from Italy.  Lataya is from Minnesota and is at WKU for the Forensics Team, like myself.  Brittany is originally from St. Louis but spent last semester studying in Morocco.

I was very excited for the start of the dinner.  I hoped that the group would mingle well and I was correct.  My college friends got along very well with my parents and their guests.  My house is somewhat small, so it was hard for everyone to cook their own dish.  Luckily, my parent’s friends brought dishes of their own.  Mark made an amazing pasta dish – he has strong German roots and made a family recipe.  Mark insisted on providing most of the food, he wanted to thank my dad for hosting the meal.  However, he did allow to Lauren to bring a salad that her mom taught her how to make.  Stephanie showed up cookies that were in the shape of dog biscuits; she wanted to represent her career.

Although I did have planned conversation starters, they were pretty unnecessary.  The conversation flowed very naturally.  When I brought up the topic of citizenship, it was interesting to hear everyone’s answers.  Mark and Casey both have immigrants in their immediate families, Mark’s from Germany and Casey’s from Italy.  They provided a new perspective about acclimating and adapting to a new country.  My parents have similar views that I also share, based on how they raised me.  They told me sister and me that citizenship was always about ensuring every person in our country feels safe and welcomed – regardless of their backgrounds.  Brittany was able to talk about her experiences in Morocco as an exchange student. Lataya spoke about being a black women in America and the challenges she and her family have faced over the years.  Lauren spoke of her job at the library and how she enjoys making people better citizens by aiding in their education.  St. Augustine has a very large school for the deaf and blind so she runs programs that aids in community outreach.

Religion was briefly discussed but not too much.  My family is Jewish so I believe that some of the guests may have felt uncomfortable discussing any other views.  While I do not believe that should have been the case, I do understand not wanting to potentially disrespect my parents in their home.  It would have been nice to be able to openly talk about other religions, but I will be able to do that at another time.  Politics were discussed for a bit of time as well.  I had just submitted my absentee ballot that day, so it was an easy conversation to bring up.  Surprisingly, everyone at the table had socialist democratic values.  Casey, Mark and my father have economic opinions that more easily follow the Republican party, but everyone was socially democratic.  I found that very interesting, especially considering the diverse jobs and home states.  This made talking about obligations to other citizens very easy – I think that people who identify socially with the democratic party have similar views on how to act as a helpful citizen.  Everyone was in support of resettling refugees, a topic that I brought up thanks to our social issues paper.

Not everyone at the table was used to so many people at one meal.  I grew up having family dinners every night but that was not the case for everyone else.  Stephanie grew up in a single parent household and had a very different childhood than the rest of us.  Lataya’s parents both worked full-time so it was rare for them all to share a meal together. Overall, this was a very enriching experience.  Not only did I learn to be very appreciative of having my friends and family at a meal together, but it was really nice to meet new people and share our thoughts on citizenship.  Talking about what it means to be a good citizen was something I had never done with my parents once I was in college and it was very interesting to have such a serious conversation with them.  It is refreshing to know that so many people, from differing generations and ethnic backgrounds, all have similar ideals on how to be productive in our society.

This is a picture from the dinner.  I did not want to tell anyone I was taking the picture so it would look more like a natural shot from the dinner, but both of my parents saw it happening.  Clearly not in enough time to smile, but I still liked the picture enough to keep it.  You can see the pasta dishes(there were two because Mark knew Stephanie is vegetarian so he made on meat-free) and the salad Lauren brought.  My dad is at the head of the table and then going right it is my mom, Casey, Lauren, Stephanie, Lataya, Mark and Brittany.  Mark is very tall and pretty much covered Brittany in the picture.  I didn’t notice that at first or I would have taken a second picture.  It was a really fun group!



One thought on “Kitchen Table in St. Augustine

  1. Thanks so much for posting the first Kentucky Kitchen Table reflection, Ashton! Sounds like you had a great group and good conversation.


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