My Kentucky Kitchen Table was very successful. It was held at my house in Bowling Green on Monday, November 5th and consisted of myself, my parents: Laura and Brain, and three other honors 251 students: Emily, Eliza, and Shayla. My mom, Laura, is a school psychologist for two elementary schools here in Bowling Green, Natcher and Lost River Elementary. She’s a very caring person who loves helping those in need like her kids at work. She mentioned at the dinner about her love for finding a cure for families who have kids they can’t yet find solutions for in their behaviors. These kids become a huge impact on her life and the way she chooses to go about her job everyday. My dad, Brian, is an accountant at WKU. He is such a happy person; he looks at life very realistically but yet still continues to have a smile on his face. He is always there to reassure me that everything isn’t as bad as it is put out to be, and then puts a smile on my face by showing me his happy and laughable nature. Emily is a student at WKU majoring in English with the hopes of becoming an English teacher in a high school or college. She has become one of my really good friends who is very optimistic about life and loves to see the best in people. During the dinner she loved to tell stories while relating them back to whatever we were discussing which allowed for each topic to reach a more personal level. Eliza is also a WKU student who is majoring in Psychological Sciences with the dream of becoming a profiler for criminals in prison. She is very laid back and loved to talk about her home life during the dinner. Shayla is a WKU student who is majoring in dance and biology with the hopes of becoming a dancer but has a fall back plan of going to medical school.
At the dinner we discussed many questions. The question that stood out to me the most was our first question: “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” I believe this question was very memorable because the answers reflected each one of us so different, but yet we all came to the same theme and conclusion that being a better person can ultimately lead to a better community. I answered by saying that we as people should be accountable for each other; when someone is in need they should feel that the community they are apart of will be able to help them throughout the situation. Being a citizen starts with putting others before yourself because selflessness and kindness can bring a community and even a country more together. My mom had a very good response as well; she described a part of being a citizen as recognizing that we as people are all different and diverse with our own views and beliefs especially in Bowling Green with it being a refugee city. She said that being able to recognize one another’s beliefs would hopefully enable more acceptance in a country that has some people who only see their perspective as the correct view or belief. Shayla brought into the discussion the idea that all three of our central theme questions for the class can all play a role in how one displays citizenship. For example, the question, “How do we address shared problems?”, can go back to what my mom was saying with how we should always be aware that we will not always share the same opinion; therefore, we must not jump to the conclusion that our views are correct. We should take time and listen to the other side before making a decision. This idea is similar to what we talked about in class with the elephant and the rider; the rider being the thing that requires you to rethink or consider other opinions.
Another question that we discussed that we talked about for most of our time was: “What do you think are the best things about our world today?” The answers to this question to me were honestly really eye-opening; it proved to me that our world isn’t always as hateful and negative as the media brings it out to be. For example, Eliza answered this question by describing the kindness that she witnessed daily in her hometown, and the fact that it’s not something that is really ever discussed in the news today. She talked about how even though we might like to think the world is always out to get us with the overwhelming negativity, there seems to always be people there to help you with whatever you’re struggling with. Even if this is mostly seen in towns like Bowling Green or the small town of Iowa where Eliza is from, it’s not an abandoned idea or concept in bigger cities like New York. There will always be people who see the bigger picture, hold empathy for one another, and even put others before themselves; to me that’s just human nature. We all have a conscience that enables us to depict morally right from wrong or good from evil, and I think that’s what makes us human. People’s good works and kindness towards others isn’t necessarily mentioned in media or the news because sadly that doesn’t grab many people’s attention. The more awful occurrences and tragedies attract viewers which then allows it to spread, and from there the negativity continues to grow larger and louder. People only really see the hurting and the broken throughout the world, and those who are trying to help the world through selflessness and humility are missed from the creation of continuous negative media.
An additional idea we discussed with the question of what we find best in our world was the concept of empathy. This idea follows the same concepts as Eliza’s but I thought it had lots of power behind the message. Both my mom and I talked about how empathy can play a very important role in one’s life. I found that empathy was a truly amazing thing in our world today whether it be used or not; the ability to understand and share the feelings one is going through allows for a person to connect and develop strong relationships with each other. It’s such a strong and amazing tool because not only can it allow one to connect with people on a deeper level, it makes one view other people’s perspectives. For example, the reading we did in class about the girl who played a role in pretending to be a sick patient for the trainees in medical school displayed very strong traits of empathy throughout the girl’s life. During her time with this role she found herself enjoying the empathy students expressed for her pretend sickness because she felt as if she wasn’t being shown empathy in her real life. This pretend life is where she felt as if she was really being cared for, and honestly when you really begin to think about it, it is very sad. She felt as if nobody really cared or understood her circumstances, so she took that emptiness and filled it through these role plays. In our life we have to opportunity to display empathy towards others, and I believe we should never take that for granted because you never truly know how much someone might need that sense of knowing that someone else understands. That’s why I believe that empathy can be so powerful in our world today; it can truly change people’s perspectives about their own lives and the community that they live in. It can give people a hope of knowing that their not alone in a world that might seem so large yet so empty at the same time. It’s a tool that enables people to form bonds, create relationships, and heal brokeness. Empathy, I believe, can ultimately turn a life around.
Overall, our Kentucky Kitchen Table went wonderfully. I think that each one of us took away something very powerful or insightful that we hadn’t really thought of before. We were able to hear perspectives from each other on different questions that brought out every personality sitting at the table. I was honestly a little skeptical at first, but in the end I was very glad that we had the opportunity to intake on this really great experience. I was able to hear opinions from both of my parents that I had never heard before which made me look at them more as adults rather than just my parents. I was able to learn new things about each honors student, Emily, Eliza, and Shayla, and now I feel as if I know lots of their backgrounds just from the many childhood stories told throughout the dinner. The Kentucky Kitchen Table was a lot of fun, and I honestly would do another one if I was given the chance.