My classmate, Davis, and myself ate dinner with our host, Jennifer, here in Bowling Green, KY on Thursday, April 21st. Davis is a freshman at WKU as well, and he is interested in studying anthropology and the cultures of other countries, as well as science. Jennifer, our host, is a school teacher whom has teenagers and young adults at home. She is interested in religious life and is back in school to study such. Overall, we had a highly diverse table, yet we shared many things in common.
Our conversation was diverse as well, and we talked about a variety of issues. We mentioned the current political issues in our country, including the impending Presidential election. We talked about the importance of knowing the candidates and who one is voting for. Not only this, but we talked about the importance of having empathy, which is something certain Presidential candidates lack. This related to our talks of empathy in class, through our “Empathy Exams” readings. I referenced the video clip we watched during one of our first classes, regarding the little girl that was run over with no one stopping to help. I talked about how in our discussion, some people said that we did not have an obligation to help the little girl, and that we are not obligated to help anyone. I mentioned that I disagreed with this statement, and our table talked about how we all agreed we do have an obligation to help others out. We believe that this is a crucial part of being a good citizen, as we cannot simply ignore others’ problems when they do not affect us directly.
The idea of being a “good citizen” also was addressed in our conversation. As aforementioned, we discussed empathy as a crucial aspect of being a citizen. Aside from voting and truly knowing who one is voting for, we also decided that being concerned with the people around you is part of being a citizen. This does not only include the people that are “fellow citizens.” This includes the refugees entering this country, and those considered “illegal immigrants.” We must have compassion for all people if we intend on being true citizens. We cannot decide to live in ignorance of other people’s problems and other people’s pain by deciding that we have no obligation to them.
I learned a great deal during our Kentucky Kitchen Table, but one of the most important things I learned was regarding higher education and the different paths that people take. We talked about not forcing children to choose careers when they are young, or forcing them to go to college, as that is not always the best path for everyone. I learned from Jennifer that it is also never too late to go back to school if you find it is time for a different calling in your life. We discussed that learning how to relate to other people is also immensely important in both professional life and personal life, and this is something we learn through our interactions with diverse groups of people. These interactions could take place at a service trip, such as one that Davis attended, or in religious classes, such as ones that Jennifer is currently taking. It is important to interact with diverse groups of people and work together with them, as there is a plethora of new perspectives available to use in this way.
Overall, our Kentucky Kitchen Table was an enriching opportunity that allowed all of us to connect, despite not knowing each other prior. It fostered new ideas because of our unique perspectives on life. I truly felt like completing this assignment at the end of the year helped to sum up what I have learned in Honors 251. This became a physical manifestation of many of the ideas learned in our class through the readings and lectures. We were able to incorporate class concepts into our discussion, and it was interesting to hear everyone’s ideas regarding such. I hope that I can engage in such a dinner another time, because it made me realize the value in actual conversations about world events with other people.