For mine and Amber’s Kentucky Kitchen Table, I invited Dalla and Chris; Amber invited Sarah. Dalla has been friends with my mom for years. She is from Brazil and moved to the United States when she was 12 to live with her aunt because her home life was terrible. After she met her husband while she was at Western, she and David put their roots down in Bowling Green, KY. Since Dalla constantly moved around when she was growing up, she is extremely integrated in the Western and Bowling Green community because this is her children’s home. Dalla also works at Western, as does her husband.
Chris is an African American meteorology major from Louisville, KY with his sights set on an amazing career as the most informative weather man ever. He is obsessed with snow and all things weather. Chris also was the head of our study group which got me, and him, through Calculus III. A great interesting thing about Chris is that he is always dressed up. Every time I have ever seen him, Chris is wearing dress slacks, gorgeous dress shoes, a button up shirt, a tie, and either suit coat or a sweater vest. Chris explained that he does this because when he dresses casually he feels overlooked or considered unimportant, especially as a young black man.
Amber’s friend Sarah is a Caucasian Music Education major. One of the major things she shared with us when we were discussing the importance of giving and receiving help, was that in this new world of short attention spans, she feels like asks for help is an inconvenience for those around her. Sarah highlighted the fact that with the intense shift towards instant knowledge has cut us off from each other. Through dinner, we discovered that we all felt that the absolute most important part of being a part of a community is being willing to communicate, by talking but also being willing to listen.
Amber and I started the dinner off by awkwardly asking some of the suggested questions. Dalla seemed to jump right in and eventually pulled all of us into an amazing conversation primarily based around what community means. Our over-arching theme of community was communication and being willing to help each other. We all shared great personal experiences that highlighted times we helped others, times we were the ones receiving help, times we held the burdens of others, and times we gave our burdens to someone else.
I couldn’t help but think of the chapter on Jane Addams’ Hull House we read in class that discussed the tribulations that come with good intentions. Many of the stories that were shared over our stuffed pasta and garlic knot dinner were ones of helpful deeds with many obstacles. Chris shared an experience when he put his life on hold for a few days to help his friend hunt down the perfect printing of his poster to take to the meteorology research presentation conference. Chris explained that even though it was long and grueling, he did it because he knew his friend would be less stressed and happier when the situation was resolved.
Dalla shared a heartwarming story of colleagues joining together to support each other in the mourning of a lost friend. She even told us that she was the supportive rock in this situation because she knew that her employees needed someone to just listen to them cry. Dalla explained that though that was her role now, she could just as easily be on the other side tomorrow, needing someone to cry to. We all agreed that this is a key component in a successful and happy social environment. To create a better world we must all be willing to be what others need us to be but also understand that we will eventually need someone to be our hero in a time of need as well.
We also discussed that within a community, it is equally important to take care of oneself as well as help others. We noted that if we do not take care of ourselves first, how can we expect to help others. Overall I believe this idea of knowing not only what others need but also being aware of your needs and finding the balance of filling these needs was our key in “designing” a goal community.