I hosted my own Kentucky Kitchen Table in Oldham County, Kentucky (a suburb of Louisville). On March 26th, our party of nine gathered together in fellowship for a wonderful meal that included Cornflake chicken (family recipe), green beans, salad, fruit (brought by Lisa and Mark), rice (my family’s staple), spätzle (traditional pasta dish from Cologne, Germany brought by Clare and Barbara), apple pie, and brownies with chocolate ganache on top (brought by Cathy). We had this dinner at my dining room table at my house. It was an amazing meal with lots of conversation. I wanted to pick people for my Kentucky Kitchen Table that had different perceptions on life based on their age.
My mother, Cynthia, attended who is a part time physical therapist, aqua fitness instructor, and worker at GE. She is an adult who has one child at home and who works full time. My father, Eric, is a former pastor and is currently working at Starbucks. He is an adult who has one child at home and three children in college. In addition to my parents, I had my brother Nathaniel who is a Junior in high school. He is 17 and is living life with the freedom of having a car to himself. Both my parents and Nathaniel didn’t want to miss out on me cooking dinner that night. In addition to my family, I invited Clare who is a freshman at St. Louis University. She is studying biology and hoping to go into the medical field. I met Clare the summer before my senior year of high school at the Governor’s Scholars Program. Clare also brought her mom, Barbara, who was my individual who I had not previously met. Her mother Barbara, is a former English teacher. She loves to travel and is currently helping out in the family business. In addition, I also invited the couple Mark and Lisa who attend my home church. They have two kids Andrew and Allison who are both in college so I considered them adults who were “empty nesters.” Mark works in Communications and Marketing at University of Louisville, and was the former news anchor for WLKY. Lisa volunteers at Eastern Area Community Ministry and is actively involved in church. Lastly, I also invited Cathy, who was my past high school Sunday School teacher at my church. She is a retired English teacher. She currently works part time at an elementary school to help kids who need extra help on reading and math. She was the participant who I considered a senior citizen. Each individual that I invited were at different places in their lifetime.
Our conversation was mainly getting to know each other and telling about past adventures. Barbara even worked on a whale watching boat in Maine! All of us, did not originally start in Louisville, Kentucky, but ended up moving and putting roots down in Louisville. Our topics ranged from family, to NASA performing surgeries in space, to the new technology called the transcranial magnetic stimulation that helps alter neurons in the brain to fight depression. This dinner really exemplified that every individual comes from a different background where there are different cultures and traditions. Lisa grew up on a farm in Paducah, Kentucky and my family grew up in Southern California. Everyone had so many stories to tell at the table. There was not one quiet moment. For me, this experience reminded me that I don’t always have to carry the conversation. If you have a talkative bunch, the conversation carries itself. I loved having the opportunity to eat with friends and family who I now often don’t see due to college.
I ended the dinner with the question, “what does citizenship mean to you?” due to the great conversation that immediately started when we sat down at the table. I thought that everyone had amazing answers to this question and it didn’t matter what age one was. Nathaniel stated, “So many of my friends are indifferent on issues. I think indifference is toxic in our society and that everyone should take a stance on controversial issues. By taking a stance, one is able to be be assertive and hopefully educate themselves on what issues affect us today.” Cathy stated that citizenship is being a role model to the younger generation. She thinks influencing others and passing down knowledge is so important. It’s being alert to the needs of our community. Clare said,”being a citizen is having a sense of comfort that you belong to a community.” Other answers included looking beyond oneself, bringing something to the table no matter how big or small, and citizenship is the importance of interconnectedness. I loved being able to tell them that our class dives deeper into wicked problems, empathy versus compassion, and looking at ideas of fixing our world to the perception we want it to be. Overall, it was an amazing dinner. Everyone loved the idea of this project and was more than happy to help. It was a success!