I was fortunate to have dinner with a newly ordained pastor named Nathan, his wife Kelsi, and a graduate from WKU named Katie. Nathan and Kelsi have been married for a few years after being college sweethearts and have an adorable dog named Leland. They named her after Leland, Michigan, because Kelsi’s family vacations in that area. Katie graduated Western after pursuing a major in Interdisciplinary Studies with an education emphasis, and she is currently a pre-school teacher. Nathan grew up in Lexington, and Kelsi and Katie are from northern Kentucky and went to the same church together. We spent the dinner mainly talking about their time in college since I am currently experiencing that time in my life. Nathan was an Education major and about to start his final semester with a teaching position at a school offered to him when he felt a call to go into full-time ministry. As someone working to be a teacher, I definitely appreciated his perspective and advice from his years spent in the educational setting! Kelsi was a Communication major and also pursued learning Spanish, even studying abroad in Ecuador. She told stories about traveling the country and experiencing its culture, including eating guinea pig. Katie shared about her involvement on campus, such as how she was one of the first students to be in WKU’s American Sign Language Organization.
When I asked what citizenship meant to them, Nathan explained that he believed it included going out of his way to help others, such as a neighbor or friend. He said it was our duty to be involved in the community and get to know the people who live in it through activities like volunteering. Everyone else wholeheartedly agreed. Because of his job, I asked about how it related to his role as a citizen. He said that it is easy to see the needs of the community and have a better understanding of how to help through forming relationships with the people he comes into contact with on a daily basis. Katie mentioned that she felt her job allowed her to be a better citizen because she is teaching the future generation of doctors, lawyers, and politicians who will work to shape the community.
Nathan and Kelsi both agreed that they believe their religious identities of being Christians influenced how they see others. Nathan said, “As Christians, we are called to serve a greater purpose by loving others and pointing them to Christ, who is the ultimate definition of love.” They said that they are very purposeful in the relationships they form because they know that lives can be impacted that way. I found it helpful to speak with this group of people since they were at different points in life and offered advice that I can definitely apply to my own life. I learned that having conversations that are more than just asking about the weather or other surface topics are important. We can gain so much wisdom and perspective from other people. I think that relates to the class as we have made it a point to respect others’ opinions and attempt to understand their viewpoints to become more well-rounded individuals. We have had many discussions, such as the most recent one about race, and mentioned how it is good to read about or speak with people whose experiences are different from our own. I think this time was well-spent and offered me an opportunity that I would not have had otherwise.