For my KKT project, I chose to find my own table and be assigned a partner. I hosted our dinner at my house in Bowling Green where we enjoyed a delicious platter of pigs-in-a-blanket along with chips and salsa and queso. Rachel was my assigned partner from class who revealed that she is originally from Nebraska, which was very interesting to learn about the differences between our two states. She invited her roommate, also named Rachel, to our dinner, who is a lesbian and who provided information as to the differences and difficulties of an alternative sexual orientation. I invited my boyfriend, Ian, to attend the dinner as well, who is currently pursuing an alternative to college by entering straight into the workforce after high school and thus providing a different viewpoint of the system. In addition, Ian invited his friend, Justin, who grew up in a very poor community, receives government assistance each month, and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Justin was able to illustrate the benefits of government programs and the experiences of living with a mental illness. Including myself, a woman from a rural background and the child of divorced parents, that makes five at the dinner.
At our dinner, we discussed many hot-topic issues that are currently going on within our country, such as equal rights, the legalization of marijuana, and the importance of being an active citizen. With the differing genders, backgrounds, sexual orientations, political beliefs, etc. of the group, we had a variety of different viewpoints on the issue that helped spur discussion. For instance, when asked what it meant to be a citizen (beyond paying taxes and voting and so on) we each found it difficult to vocalize into words. However, Rachel said that part of being a citizen is just being a decent human being in general. Ian suggested that contributing to the betterment of society is also part of citizenship, and I said that helping out your fellow neighbors and citizens is also part of what it means to be a citizen.
From this experience, I learned a lot about the people I shared it with as individuals, about myself and my own beliefs that I had not previously thought of, and about my duty to society as a citizen. I learned that just because we all might not agree on a topic, it is still important to listen to the beliefs of others and not discredit them because it might also help you understand why you believe what you do. And I feel that it is this discussion that can potentially help us cross the bridge to where we want to be. By listening to differing ideas and viewpoints, we can come up with solutions to even the most wicked of problems. That is why I feel like public discussion and forums are so important to our democracy. The people need to have a voice in the way their society is, and they need to be heard.