My Kitchen Table Project took place in the good old Owensboro, or as many of us like to call it “the dirty”. I went to my grandparent’s house, Virgil and Jane (not pictured). We had a few other family members there and some family ‘outsiders’ that I had not met before or do not know as well. My grandpa Virgil, or as I call him, Papaw, grew up on the farm and often tells many of his old tales from living with the farm animals and walking miles to attend school in a small one room building. My grandma, Jane aka Mammy, grew up in a nice christian family with a little more money and opportunities than my Papaw. Also joining us was my brother, a 20 year old stay at home community college student. Also attending was My aunt Debbie, her two kids Michaela (her new finance, Bill, who recently moved here from North Caroline) and Patrick. Last not but not least Were two of my other cousins Wes and Audra. Wes graduated from UofL and is now in the National Guard. Audra finished her education with high school and now helps with her family’s horses and works in a factory. With the variety of ages, education, and city/country life we had much diversity. It was also interesting to get to know Bill since I had never met him before. (We all contributed to part of the meal).
When asking everyone what citizenship meant to them, I received a wide variety of answers. Wes, who is in the National Guard, felt very obligated to serve his country and be up to date with everything happening to be a well rounded citizen. He believed you should be actively involved and helping in any way that you can. My brother, Caleb, felt his citizenship was more defined just by your political actions. To him being a citizen entails being very up to speed with anything politics and actively voicing your opinions and voting when at all possible. Everyone else joined at the table didn’t have much of an opinion on their citizenship except that they lived in the country and felt they should vote. Michaela mentioned something with having good morals and stepping in to help other citizens when needed.
The rest of the conversation seemed to then find itself among the lines of education obligations. Bill found that everyone had an obligation to become educated and get a well paying job to support yourself and any future family. My cousin Audra, who did not attend college, found that there are ways to work and find yourself and have a successful life without higher education. My brother Caleb found himself in the middle. As a night time community college student who is a manger of a Chick-fil-a during the days, he found that you can always find a balance between the two. He doesn’t necessarily need to go to college but he is to further his education and become a better business manger in what he does. It was very interesting to view the different stand points on higher education and whether or not it is necessary. This reminded me of Jane Adams and her failures at medical school for some reason. Not everyone goes to college and if they do are always successful. But in the end you find your path along the way and get to where you are supposed to be. For some that might include higher education and for others it might not.
(My grandparents have a very small kitchen table so we pulled out collapsable tables in the garage!)