My dinner took place in an apartment in Bowling Green on November 8th. I wanted to be able to host the dinner in my own home, but I live two hours away and on campus I just live in a dorm, so my friend Madison was so kind enough to let me use her apartment. Seven guests were able to attend my dinner. Madison’s roommates Brooke and Lexy came and they invited their friends Callie, Lillie, and another girl named Brooke. While we are all female students at WKU, I think that there are many things about each of us that are very diverse. We all have very different views and we are at different stages in our college careers. Our ages range from 18-22. At the dinner we had pizza, pumpkin pie, chips, bread, etc. Everyone brought a little something and it was a very random assortments of food, but it all worked out! We pulled up chairs around our table and ate our feast.
The only person that I knew really well was Madison. Madison is a senior at Western this year & is majoring in criminal law. I think what makes Madison diverse are her political views; she has a lot of knowledge about politics and really brings some amazing ideas to the table. She is also from South Carolina and has a family of 4: mom, dad, and her younger brother. Brooke is from Chicago and is a junior this year. Brooke has been in and out of school for a while because she had to get major back surgery last year. She comes from a very large family, and family is something that she values a lot. The other Brooke is from Louisville and is a freshman. She comes from an Italian family. She was raised in a catholic home and went to a catholic high school. Brooke and I didn’t know each other before this, but it is really cool because we are both from Louisville. But I went to a public school outside Louisville, so our experiences were very different. Lexy and Lillie are both from Bardstown, KY. Lillie was also raised in a catholic family and she has a big family. Church is something that is very important to her- she participated in many retreats and other church activities. She is majoring in nursing. Lexy is the oldest in her family and has a very close relationship with her family. She is majoring in psychology and plans on being a high school teacher.
I started off at the dinner explaining to them what we have been learning about in class; I told them how we talk about many issues today and what we can do as a society about these issues. I asked what citizenship meant to them, beyond the idea of voting, following laws, etc. We talked about how a huge that that we can do as an individual is to be aware- so many of the issues that go on today could be eased if people just knew what was going on. Brooke said, “I think this goes beyond just being aware with political issues, but I think we just need to be aware of the people around us.” We talked about how our community is so naturally selfish that we often times don’t take the time to understand other people and get to know them. Especially in college, there is so much going on and often times we just think about what we have to do, and we ignore our surroundings. Lillie said, “I feel guilty because I have classes with the same people every day and I don’t even know the names of some of the people that sit near me”.
This kind of got us to the topic of how much technology has affected society. In an elevator its everyone’s natural instinct to pick up their phone because that’s much easier than having to talk to the stranger on the elevator. Lexy talked about how she always tries to stay off of her phone and ask people how their day was. This is something so small, but if more people just tried to talk to people, I think people would be so much closer. If we were closer as a generation, so many problems could be solved. We talked about how depression and suicide if=s often times in result of just feeling out of place, and so often social media and our technology makes us feel this way. Because of how much we have on our phones, it gives us the ability to be so connected and its weird how it can do the opposite effect. We talked a lot about how people try to look picture perfect and have everything together, when in reality this isn’t the case. Nobody has everything together but having the ability to look at people’s profiles comparing yourself to everyone can be so harmful to yourself.
I asked how the how their jobs relate to their role as a citizen. Brooke just got accepted into nursing school and she talked about how she felt like doing her absolute best to bring the best care to people is something that she can do as a citizen. Coincidentally, 4 of us at this dinner are nursing majors, so while talking about this I thought about our discussion in class about empathy in doctors. I explained to them the discussion we had in class whether if doctors should be empathetic (because I feel like this is the same scenario for nurses). In class we got off on kind of a debate trying to distinguish the difference between empathy and sympathy. At the dinner we talked about how it really is important that people in the medical field are empathetic; when you treat people like they are an object rather than see them as an actual person is where so many doctors go wrong. Empathy is being able to imagine yourself in the persons shoes and doing whatever you can for them. In class people said it’s impossible to have empathy for a person if you haven’t been through the exact same thing. At the dinner we all agreed that how someone could even say that is kind of a perfect example how there isn’t enough empathy in today’s society.
Madison wants to go to law school and she explained how being a lawyer would have a huge impact on her role in society. The social issue today of transgender and LGBT is very close to her. She really wants to impact the way that society treats them. We talked about how important it is that every person is treated as a person. No matter how different they are then you, they have every right to this life as you do. People often have very strong political views and they think that we can’t agree on anything, but we can agree that everyone is human and deserves to be treated that way.
All of us at the table come from very different types of family. Madison said that her family always sat down every night and had dinner together, however for Lexy that wasn’t the case. We talked about how coming together and eating really brings a family together, and its actually one of the hard things about being away from home at college. This led to us talking about how at college, one of the really cool things is everyone comes from a different place.
I think that my dinner was very successful. Bringing everyone’s thoughts to the table and just being able to talk about issues going on in society went really well. All in all, we talked about how being a citizen goes way beyond just doing actions like voting- it’s just how you are as a person. Treating people with fairness, being aware of other, and just being kind are simple things, but they often are forgotten. We agreed that we want to be people that are there for others. We want to be people that are loving and caring. In a society that is so caught up in our own needs, we need to remember others.
I learned a lot through this dinner. I didn’t earn a whole lot of stuff I didn’t know before, but I was able to put things in a different perspective. I had never really thought of things like the way that we talked about them; I think hearing other people’s take on something really opens up your mind. After having this dinner, I think I am really going to try to show compassion to others. I need to make that a goal of mine because often times I feel like I get so caught up in myself that I leave out what is really important. I need to put others before myself because when it is all about me, nothing gets built up. I really reflected on how I want to be remembered in society. I don’t want to be remembered for any of the things I accomplished, instead I want to be remembered for how I made people feel. I think I’ve heard that quote before, but it truly is so important- that’s the main goal on a citizen.