Kentucky Kitchen Table: Not quite Olive Garden, but close

By Katy

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For the Kentucky Kitchen Table assignment, Baylee, Katelyn, and I teamed up to host a dinner on Western Kentucky University’s campus for ourselves and other students. Including Baylee, Katelyn, and myself, eight people attended. Each team-member invited guests from various groups. Baylee invited her friend Seth, Katelyn invited Jill and Anne, and I invited Theresa and Tucker. We were also unexpectedly joined by Yujen, who is involved with the Christian Student Fellowship on campus. Although each attendee, aside from Yujen, is currently a freshman at WKU, everyone had very different backgrounds, personalities, and opinions. While most of us were part of the Honors College and live in Minton Hall, very few of us knew the other host’s guests, which lead to interesting and eventful conversation.

For dinner, Katelyn, Baylee, and I made pasta with alfredo and marinara sauce, salad, and bread, which was a fairly difficult menu to execute from within a dorm kitchen. Although we had the menu planned, it was difficult to find a “kitchen table” on campus. Thankfully, the Christian Student Fellowship allowed us to use their basement and tables for the evening. With the help of some nice lighting, a mason jar of fake flowers, and paper plates, the meal all came together, thanks to each host’s efforts and collaboration.

While we ate, we discussed our college experiences, our different backgrounds, and the cities we call home. Everyone agreed college came with its pros and cons, which brought about a lot of laughter and connection within the group. Most of the attendants were from Kentucky, but Baylee and Katelyn reside in Tennessee, which provided a “hometown” connection for them. They were not the only people who call the same place home. Tucker and Anne both live in Frankfort, but had never met, which allowed them to have easy conversation about their hometown.

Although most of the conversation was fairly light-hearted, people’s personalities and interests began to surface as we continued to talk. Every attendant was invested in academics as well as extracurricular activities or organizations. Baylee, for example, is part of a sorority, and devotes a lot of time to her responsibilities within that group. Theresa plays clarinet in WKU’s marching band and invests her time in individual and group practice. Although there were differences in people’s interests, everyone was interested in learning about everyone else, rather than focusing on themselves.

Through conversing with the attendants, I learned a few interesting things. First, talking to strangers isn’t always bad, it can actually introduce you to new ways of thinking and understanding. Second, having a good team makes all of the difference. Without the help of Baylee and Katelyn, this event would have been a complete disaster. They were willing to do their part and were always willing to do more. Third, and finally, I learned that even though people who may be walking the same road, many begin and arrive at very different destinations.

I believe this assignment related to Citizen and Self in multiple ways. One of the main purposes of the class, is to allow students the freedom to express, communicate, and discuss their opinions, ideas, and beliefs, but in a way that is considerate of others. This practice is extremely important in the “real world,” because being able to communicate clearly and gracefully is a rare skill. It also relates to one of the main questions asked in class, “how do we live well together?” Although people have different experiences and backgrounds, it is important to listen to their stories in order to develop your own ideas, opinions, and character. Only focusing on how you can live well, will lead to a sad life, but investing time in learning how other’s live with enhance your quality of life.

I enjoyed this assignment because it forced me to talk to new people and engage in meaningful conversation, which is not something at which I excel. It also took a lot of patience to organize and cook a dinner for eight people within the restrictions of a dorm kitchen. Although it would have been easier to order pizza, I loved being able to cook with Katelyn and Baylee and see people enjoy the food and enjoy each other’s company.

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