The Citizen, Community and You

By Amber

My KKT project partner was Rachel. We had dinner at her house with a table of 3 additional people, Dalla, Sarah, and Chris. Chris is an African American man who is majoring in meteorology and has had the experience of reporting with various local news channels. Dalla is also a woman of color and works at WKU. She has done extensive traveling, living in several different places for extended periods of time. She offered a different perspective because she was the oldest in the group (30s) and from a different generation. Sarah is a Caucasian female with a major in Music Education and grew up in an urban setting. Rachel and myself are both Caucasian females who have lived in the Bowling Green area most if not all of our lives. For dinner, Rachel’s father cooked stuffed pasta shells and garlic bread. I brought the dessert of cupcakes and Dr. Pepper so that people could have a variety of drink options.

At first, the dinner was strange and a little awkward. We didn’t know each other at all, so it was difficult to begin discussing such profound topic with strangers. Rachel tried to facilitate conversation by welcoming everyone and asking the first few questions about citizenship and what it meant to everyone at the table. We asked questions that had been the topic of discussion in our classes including: what are we obligated to do for our communities, and when is it okay to say no to other members of the community? Dalla jumped right in and began sharing her life experiences. Rachel and I found that the conversation steered itself to a degree and didn’t require either of us constantly asking questions to keep a decent discussion. Eventually, everyone became noticeably more comfortable and started to loosen up and the discussion came quite easily.

For Dalla, who has moved several times, her sense of community changed throughout her life given different cultures and norms. Now, she has a very close connection to her WKU, religious, and Bowling Green communities. She also feels very connected, happy, and safe to have such connections knowing that she has people who are willing to help her just as much as she helps them.

Sarah, even though quiet, reported that she feels uncomfortable asking people for help not as a symbol of pride, but that she doesn’t want to inconvenience people. She also said that she is much happier because of the connections and friends she has made within her community.

Chris’s community of meteorology friends has not only provided him with friendship, but also a continuing flow of knowledge and references for future employers and jobs. He has also found that the nicer he dresses the better people treat him. He feels, especially as a young African American man, that if he wears casual clothing people tend to by pass him, but if he wears a suit, people often call him sir and ask if they can help him in any way.

Rachel also feels very comfortable in her community. She understands that there are certain things that we are obligated to do for our neighbors, friends, and even strangers. In general, it’s all about making life a little better for everyone.

I shared that I am a country girl from a small community. Everyone knows everyone where I’m from and watches out for each other. Often times, without the help of others, crops die and families are plunged into debt.

Overall, the main points made were: Who is in your community? How do you fit into your community and what can you contribute? Equally important is knowing when to ask your community for support so that you don’t get so overwhelmed that you become a problem instead of help to the community. The group came to the consensus that knowing and understanding these points is very important to having an efficient community and for overall happier living. We originally planned on having dinner for about an hour and a half. However, we began at 6:00 and didn’t leave until 8:30. We had some very interesting and insightful conversations that most Americans, in our busy lives, forget about. Too often we expect other people to “figure it out” for us and forget that we actually have the power to make change in our own communities. IMG_1432

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