At my Kentucky Kitchen Table, I invited six guests to my house for dinner. My mother graciously offered to take the picture of us all, but her skills are not the best and she cut off halves of two faces. She also insisted that since strangers were coming to the house that we had to use nice silverware and plates to give a good impression on my guests. Nevertheless, my table included Mr. Dennis and his wife Mrs. Dennis, a couple that I know from church, Kara, who is a teacher at a middle school in Louisville, Paige who is a senior student at University of Louisville who brought along two people she knew from a diversity class, Kelsey who is a sophomore and Max who is a senior student and an immigrant from Cuba. I felt that this group provided a variety of insights and backgrounds to the table. For dinner, Kara prepared a salad with fruit and candied walnuts, I made a family recipe of Hot Brown Casserole, and the Dennis’s provided bourbon ball ice cream to round off a very “Kentucky” kind of dinner. Kelsey provided the flowers seen in the middle of the table, and Max brought some beverages.
One topic I wanted to discuss was family meals. I thought it was important to understand how these people felt and were willing to speak up based on how comfortable they were with eating at a dinner table regularly. I had grown up eating at the dinner table with my whole family every night, so this was commonplace for me. Both of the Dennis’s had agreed, Mrs. Dennis’s family was very tightly knit and Mr. Dennis’s was too, and now they had dinner nightly together in their own home. Kelsey and Paige said their families did not do it every night but did it often enough. Max said that he did not have them much recently, but growing up they were very important to keep the family together. I thought it was interesting, and after I asked this I wanted to see who spoke up the most about politics and citizenship. It seemed that those who had grown up regularly having dinner meals every night were the ones leading the conversations around the table, regardless of age. Those who had not had many, or not as many recently, were quieter and pitched in their opinions more when the rest of the group paused the conversation.
The main conversation that they all were willing to talk about was different political and citizenship topics, and I was really interested to see how they felt about being an active citizen and participating in the election coming up this year. All of us were registered to vote and so we all had a stake in the election somehow. Kara and Kelsey had said they had not voted before due to different circumstances but were now eager to participate. The Dennis’s had voted many times before and even in the last presidential race and were looking forward to voting again. Max and Paige had voted only in local or statewide elections previously but felt that that was enough for them and their civic duty until this fall when a new president is elected. We were divided almost halfway between Republicans and Democrats, with one more on the left side. It was interesting to see how everyone fit on the spectrum, especially Max’s point of view being a strong conservative and very into the political sphere of this country.
I learned that where a person is from impacts how they view their participation in their community. It is my assumption that those who forge stronger bonds with their families over discussions at regular intervals, such as family dinners nightly, possess a higher drive to participate in ongoing conversations about the world around them. Even though many of us held opposing views about politics or the nature of citizenship, it was clear that we all had some kind of idea as to what was important and what made a good participant in the citizenry of Kentucky. I felt that this was such a wonderful opportunity for me to learn from people of all different backgrounds and I am very thankful for this opportunity to experience this kind of diversity in my own household.