At the start of the semester when I first heard about this assignment, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. But after I had dinner with my classmate, Savannah, and our host, Jennifer, I had learned more about what it means to be a citizen.
The dinner that Jennifer made for us was a delicious bow-tie pasta dish and a salad, and the coversation we had was just as good as the food. Our conversation started with the question, “What does it mean to be a citizen?” All of the answers to this question were very enlightening, and we each had a slightly different way of answering the question. However, all of us agreed that having compassion and empathy for other people is one of the cornerstones of citizenship. If people aren’t able to talk to each other or seek understanding with others, democracy stops working because people won’t be able to reach compromises. This led to more discussion about the 2016 presidential elections and immigration about the importance of creating dialogue between people instead of divisions.
I especially liked Jennifer’s attitudes about empathy. She talked about her work with a humanitarian organization at a refugee camp, and how the refugees were basically stuck in the camp because most of them didn’t have any papers that would allow them to get citizenship in another country. Almost all of the aid that reached the camp came specifically from that humanitarian organization, and it tried its best to help some of the families immigrate to the United States. However, once in the United States, refugee families still need support from the communites they live in, and the people still in the camp need support as well. Hearing a story like this underlined the importance of reaching out to other people and having empathy for where they came from, as well as where they are going.
My biggest takeaway from this project was the importance of interacting with other people. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have had this dinner, but because of this assignment I had a meal and a conversation that I learned a lot from. If you don’t take the chance to reach out to other people, you will never learn what insights they have to offer. But by having empathy for others, you can be a better citizen and help to create more understanding between people.