Starting off our Kentucky Kitchen Table project, both my partner Madi and I worried that this entire ordeal would be rather awkward. We decided to have our meal over at Madi’s house, with both of her parents Kim and Tim, her boyfriend Luke, and our mutual friend Rachel, who in turn brought her friend Emily. From a first glance, our group did not seem to be very diverse, but, after having our conversation, our group’s differences came to light.
We began our conversation at the dinner table, after everyone had helped themselves to a classic grill out-dinner of hamburgers (or a veggie burger, in Emily’s case), fruit, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and snickers pie. We asked everyone one thing that made them unique, and if they would mind being described like that. As we went around the table, I jokingly decided to call myself the Sorority Lesbian, and further ridiculous names for the others were also born. After we all declared our unique names, we noticed that we sounded like some weird knock-off version of the Breakfast Club, and decided that we should give a name to our little rag-tag group of people. And in that moment, the Dinner Ensemble was born.
After that, our conversation got a little more serious. We started talking about diversity, and what makes people different from one another. We discovered that, even though we were all the same race, we all had a majority of differences that we believed counted as diversity, for example, our differing geographical locations, our sexuality, and our religious beliefs. Both Rachel and I are from northern Kentucky, which is essentially Ohio, Emily is from the Appalachian area, and Madi, Luke, and her parents are from Russellville. When it comes to sexuality, I identified as a lesbian, Rachel identified as bisexual, and the others identified as straight. Lastly, all of us have varying religions: I’m considered Agnostic, Rachel is Catholic, Emily is a Methodist, and again, Madi, Luke, and her parents are all Baptists.
On top of these, we also found that our individual experiences and personal beliefs helped make us diverse as well. Politically, we had a nice range, with Emily and I being liberals, Rachel being in the middle, and Madi, Luke, and Tim being Libertarians. Emily, Rachel, and Madi know another language besides English, and Luke doesn’t know how to write in cursive. Both Luke and I have had a near death experience, Madi has trade school experience, and Rachel is a black belt. I’m the only one who is a member of the Greek community, Emily, Rachel, and Luke are all CPR/First Aid certified, and both me and Tim have a disability: Tim is half blind, and I have diabetes.
We asked the one required question next: Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you? Getting answers from people for this question was rather difficult – no one really knew how to answer. I started off by saying that citizenship to me means being politically literate, and not passive; actually understanding what is going on, and voicing you own opinion and being active, whether that be through voting or other means. Tim said that citizenship to him means being involved in the community.
Overall, our Kentucky Kitchen Table project was very enjoyable. There was great food, intriguing conversation, and good company, even if we didn’t really know each other beforehand. It was really awesome discovering that diversity is not just limited to race, gender and sexuality, but also a multitude of other factors as well. I found it remarkable that we were able to interact well with each other, despite our varying differences, especially the differences in religious beliefs and political views. Ultimately, I learned that people live better together by communicating with each other, learning to see each other’s viewpoints and sharing each other’s ideas, and that being active in your community can help you to communicate with others to accomplish great things.