Our Kentucky Kitchen Table went a lot different than what I had thought would happen. I thought that it would be more awkward than insightful, but I was proven wrong. Our conversation revolved around how what we perceive as our identity can greatly influence who we are and how we become better citizens.
My group, which included myself, Alex, Luke, and Daniel, were graciously hosted by Emily, a grad student who majored in Religious Studies. After our dinner of chicken tacos. we dove straight in and discussed what citizenship means to us. Some of the answers included having an obligation and a pride to the country we live in. As the talk progressed, we began to talk about how experience and choices we make will mold the identity we have and we present ourselves. Emily talked about how an experience she had that really had a profound effect on her and her identity. Before, she had spent her college career with the same group of friends from high school that all went to Western together. After an auto accident she was in, however she explained how her friend group essentially fractured. This essentially led her to reevaluate her identity that had been stripped bare. She also talked about she is at a crossroads in her life, and why she decided to live in a commune after graduating from grad school. Her experiences and words of wisdom were very valuable to the rest of us.
The rest of our group also talked about how our majors really have shaped or have begun to shape the identity we are creating for ourselves. Luke and Alex, both seniors talked about how the activities and majors they chose really played out in their identities. Luke is a Biology major and involved in Sigma Chi fraternity. He chose his major because his dad is a vet and he was around animals a lot growing up. He also talked about how his fraternity helped him meet friends he otherwise wouldn’t have made. Alex is an Agriculture major and she talked about how she lived at the agriculture farm WKU has and enjoys the small group of them there, who including the professors, are like family to her. Daniel and I are both freshmen and both of us are still trying to understand what our identities are and how we are presenting ourselves. Daniel is a nursing major, but went through a few other majors before deciding on it. He talked about the differences between WKU and his high school in Louisville, Saint X, an all guys Catholic school. I myself am a Broadcasting major living down near Nashville. I talked about how I came here, despite all my friends going off to the University of Tennessee, where I could have easily gone myself. But I wanted to break the norm of my surroundings, where most people in my high school end up going to Tennessee. I also chose to attend Western because of the highly ranked School of Journalism and Broadcasting and what I wanted to do with that.
One major talking point about identity that came up for us was that of our respective faiths. All of us were Christian, although different denominations for the most part. Daniel, having gone to an all Catholic school was first surprised that not everyone down here is Catholic. Luke said that he was a Methodist although he also said he doesn’t really know what that means in terms of denomination. I am technically a Baptist, and I also didn’t really know what that meant. Alex is a Southern Baptist and grew up in the church, deciding to come to Western instead of a private Christian college. Emily herself is a Christian and when she is done with grad school said she is planning on living in a commune for a few months before going to theology schools in Boston, in order to get a better understanding of herself and how a community interacts and supports one another.
In the end, the idea of identity is important to the idea of citizenship, as our identity coincides with how we act as citizens of our towns, states, and country. My Kentucky Kitchen Table really opened my eyes up to this and is something I can use to evaluate the person I am right now, and the person I will be a few years down the road.