At my KKT I cooked dinner for my partner Allison, my boyfriend Luke, my friend Rachel, Rachel’s friend Emily, and both of my parents. I love to cook so I practically insisted. Allison is an Art History major at WKU who intends on going into art conservation after college from Northern Kentucky. Rachel is Allison’s roommate, she is an English major with a math minor who teaches Tae Kwon Do from Northern Kentucky. Emily, Rachel’s classmate, is an English Major with an International Studies minor from Eastern Kentucky. Luke is currently working for our home city as he prepares to go to the police academy, following in his father(our local sheriff), brother, and uncle’s footsteps. My mother, Kim, has been a stay at home mom since she left investment banking when I was in middle school and currently takes care of several elderly people as well as a neighbor of ours who has terminal cancer. My father is the manager of the Safety and Security departments at the top employer in the county and has begun to delegate the task as he is nearing retirement but he at one time consulted at facilities worldwide to help companies improve their safety measures.
The night had a rather lighthearted feel at the beginning as I got down to business (and admittedly interrogated everyone). We surprisingly didn’t have as much trouble as expected when we tried to find differences among us. Emily is a vegetarian (I made sure she had a veggie burger). Allison is a lesbian. Luke grew up in a police family and when he was 14 he assisted in an arrest by tackling a suspect while he was out for a run. My mother grew up in significant poverty, living in multiple homes where they only had an outhouse (she is only 47, most houses had toilets). My father has been blind in one eye since he was 8 due to a childhood accident. I have a trade certification in drafting and experience with electricity and lathe operation. Rachel is a Tae Kwon Do instructor. It was interesting to say the least to see what everyone focused on about themselves. Luke and Allison also bonded over the fact that both have had near death experiences, Allison when she was diagnosed with diabetes and Luke when he suffered from two heat strokes during a high school football game and was treated incorrectly on site. I’m fairly certain the others ignored Emily and I as we bonded over political science professors and courses.
Our responses to the required question of “other than voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” were interesting to say the least. My father (a strict conservative) thinks he is funny; he replied that you shouldn’t be so quick to assume he thinks voting, taxes, and laws are part of citizenship. My mother thought it meant helping others, going beyond just passively existing in society and not getting in others’ way. Luke honestly hadn’t thought about it before but in the end he agreed with me, that you have to be politically literate. By this I mean knowing what is going on, actively seeking ways to influence the change you want to see in your country in any lawful way available to you. Political Literacy is knowing what is going on in your country and outside of it.
It really was remarkable to see were we all stood politically, socially, even economically and discuss how it could have effected our opinions. Even knowing a second language had to be factored in, going to a different type of school like my dad had, growing up as a minority in his own school like Luke had. It was a great illustration of the diversity this class demands we factor in when we think about solutions to public problems.