On Monday, November 5, 2018, the rain poured down and flooded Bowling Green. In a house, just on the other side of the hill on Western Kentucky University’s campus on college street, known to many as the ten women, a group of 7 girls including myself gathered. Kelsey, a senior in the hospitality management program, lives there and offered her house for our dinner. She is 22 years old and from Nashville, Tennessee. She identifies as a Methodist and republican. Her parents are the main influence in her views, and she looks forward to graduating in May. On the left of Kelsey sat a sophomore advertising and photojournalism major named Carlie. She is from Georgetown, Kentucky and 19 years old. She is also Baptist and a Democrat. Her career goal is to be a graphic designer for advertising. I sat next to her. My name is Kelsie, and I’m 18 years old. I’m Catholic with mixed political views, and I’m a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To my right sat a girl named Caitie who’s a freshman majoring in history with a teacher certification. She is 18 years old and from Louisville, Kentucky. She identifies herself as Catholic but has no political affiliation. She does note that both of her parents are republican and conservative. To the left of Caite sat Natalie, another freshman from Louisville, Kentucky. She is 19 years old and says she identifies as Catholic but isn’t super religious. She adds that she has liberal views. Then next to her sat another freshman girl from Louisville, Kentucky. Her name is Lily, and she is also a nursing major with liberal views. She is 18 years old and identifies as semi-Christian. Last another girl sat around the kitchen table. Her name is Madison, but she goes by Bonzo. She is a senior double majoring in broadcast journalism and criminology from Lebanon. Kentucky. She identifies as a Republican and a Christian.
We started off by stuffing our mouths full of our delicious home-cooked meal. This consisted of none other than spaghetti, mac and cheese, and green beans. The first question I asked to start with was “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” They all seemed to have the same idea and built off what one another said. To summarize it, they all agreed that being a citizen includes participating in the community. This means a person contributes economically, socially, and help builds the community. It’s their job to make the community they live in a better place for everyone. This answer reminds me of one of the overall arching themes in HON 251. The theme is that we must personally do our part to make a change even if we aren’t sure it will pay off in the long run. We all have to take part and stand up for what we believe in. Part of being a good citizen is bettering your community and country. This means bringing change to injustices and raising awareness of important issues. Taking part in solving the problem and exercising the rights you have as a citizen to do so. Hiding, running, and ignoring the problem is not being a good citizen. As I learned in the book The Impossible Will Take a Little While, small actions can add up and make big changes. No one has to be a special person in order to make a change for good, they can simply just be an ordinary citizen. By becoming aware and doing what you can whether it be small or big has an impact on helping to fix the overall problem.
Another theme I came to realize is that no matter what size town or city we come from there is a sense of closeness between the people who live there. Kelsey even mentioned that where she’s from everyone knew each other when she was growing up. This we all agreed upon. It points to the fact that no matter where you grew up or live there is a connectedness between the people. As humans, we are naturally drawn to others and are a social species. I also learned that we all had family meals around the table growing up. We all just had different traditions. Caitie ate with her sister, parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, and their kids every Sunday. Kelsey even ate with her neighbors sometimes. Carlie’s family only did this when the TV show “The Voice” was on. She said her mom would cook breakfast food and they’d all get together with her neighbor to watch it. Bonzo said her mom was busy with her and her siblings but she always cooked their meals. Knowing that families still do this and there is still a feeling of closeness between people gives me hope. I’m glad that basic family events still exist, and that the world isn’t too crazy. It also makes me believe in humanity knowing that good down to earth people are out there. I was also drawn to these people because I related to all of them. I found myself understanding their past and thinking we had the same upbringing.
We also had a conversation over whether our religion affects how we treat people. Carlie pointed out that without her religion she would be different and wouldn’t hold her actions as accountable as she does. We all seemed to agree that no matter what level of faith we are at that it still affects our decisions. This led the conversation into talking about morals. Bonzo thought a person’s moral values were constructed by their parents and upbringing. Helping people and giving back to her seems like a moral obligation because if she didn’t then she would end up feeling bad. A lot of us shared our experiences with homeless people and giving back. We all had the idea of giving food and goods to the needy and then donating money to charities and organizations. This came about because the stereotypes that go along with homeless people were brought up. Natalie noted that she hated how there’s a stigma attached to them. But in my opinion, it’s better to give than not to give. This discussion is very much related to the reading “The Intuitive Dog and its Rational Tail.” We all had morals, and some stemmed from what our parents taught us or what we decided upon. We also had them because we knew it was good and society expected it of us. None of us know the true reasoning behind our morals or why they exist, but we still abide and follow them.
At this point, we started eating the brownies and talked about our futures. Everyone but Lily spoke up about wanting to be moms. Some wanted two kids and others wanted five. In all our futures we spoke about being wives and self-efficient. None of us wanted to be super dependent on our husband for money or other needs. We all also realized that none of us were going to make a ton of money getting out of college and starting our dream careers. Then it became more political when talking about the budget. Some made comments on how the military budget is way too big. We have no competition in budgets with other countries. Catie then added that the education budget gets next to nothing in comparison. I said I wanted to be happy and they all agreed. The money talk related to happiness because none of us wanted to be miserable rich. We concluded that living comfortably is the best way to go. I learned that I am not alone in being scared but excited for the future. Even the girls who were going to graduate and enter the workforce soon didn’t have a solid plan for their future. This makes me feel okay about letting things just happen and not get too stressed.
Hon 251 deals with a lot of politics sometimes, but I was kinda happy when I realized this group didn’t get that into it. We shared our views on wanting officials to be more honest and holding true to what they stand for. Often, they switch up after getting into office. We all hoped that at the time with the upcoming elections a lot would change. Some pointed out that people our age need to be more informed. They also need to get involved and show up at the polls. We also brought up some movements like MeToo and the LGBTQ movement. We all ended up saying we supported them and hoped change would come from them. I learned that some hit close to home. For Kelsey her brother is gay and her family learned to accept him and others. I also learned that these girls feel the same way as me and we care about the future of America. We all want to vote someone good into office that will make change for the good.
One thing that was clear in this group of girls was that we all had hope. This is a big theme and maybe the central idea of HON 251. It is definitely the theme in our main reading The Impossible Will Take a Little While. We all had hope for our future whether that be being a mother or a wife or an independent woman. We all had hope for the careers we wanted and living out the American dream. There was even hope for the future of America. We all wanted people to stand up for what they believe in and vote. We wanted them to get informed and become involved. We know that’s how to help get America on track again. There was also hope in equality for all and acceptance throughout society. I could tell throughout this group of girls that the future of America is in good hands. The stereotypes for millennials doesn’t affect all of us. I’m glad to know there are people my age out there who are still down to earth. They were still raised to know right from wrong. I learned we all had more in common than we thought.
Overall this project taught me a lot about the people around me. I became close to those I didn’t know and even closer to those I did. I was amazed by how a simple home cooked meal at a tiny dinner table opened people up and made them feel comfortable. We covered a lot of topics that normally people don’t feel comfortable talking with strangers about. I’m glad the Kentucky Kitchen Table project taught me about the power of sharing a meal and having intimate conversations with people. This is something I will carry with me throughout life.