My Kentucky Kitchen table was hosted in Bowling Green, Kentucky on November 15th with participants Christina, Jackson, Tyler, Kelsey, Anna, Emily, Nick, Olivia, Olivia, and Holly. Each of these attendees are upper class-men
students of Western Kentucky University, but are still very unique from one another! Christina is a photographer and videographer and is a member of the sorority of Kappa Delta. Jackson is from Kenton County and is currently involved in Young Life. Tyler is from Boone County and enjoys traveling whenever he can to anyplace that he can. Kelsey is also from Kenton Country and enjoys all sorts of sports such as tennis and basketball. Anna is a part of the sorority Alpha Delta Pi and has also served as Gamma Chi director for WKU PanHellenic. Emily is in a relationship and is involved currently in Young Life. Nick is from Warren Central and is a big Cubs fan. Olivia is an incredible artist and studied abroad for a semester in Italy. Olivia loves nature, high school musical, and is always up for an adventure especially to other countries. Lastly, Holly is an alum of the sorority of Chi Omega, is from Louisville, and is currently in the nursing program. Each of these people were graciously willing to meet with me as I only know Christina personally and have had short conversations with Olivia and Anna. Each of them know each other as they have some kind of connection with Young Life on campus, but I personally had not met the majority of them. Each were willing to bring meals and due to it being close to thanksgiving we chose traditional thanksgiving foods for our potluck. Holly made mac n cheese, Christina made a casserole dish, Olivia made buffalo dip, Nick brought a turkey, and the others brought miscellaneous items such as drinks, chips, or vegetables. As everyone came into the home they chatted and got to catch up and then we gathered around the table to eat the yummy food and begin our discussion.
The first question that I asked them was “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” I was not sure how they would respond, but after a couple minutes to really think about it, a few shared their opinion. Nick said to him citizenship is a collective group of people that are trying to work together for a common goal and Kelsey said that it means someone is in our country legally and that each citizen of our country welcomes those new citizens even if they are different than them. Olivia stated that citizenship means that people are all doing their best to reduce waste in their environment to help create something sustainable to preserve this earth that we live in. Lastly, Anna mentioned that the military reminds her of citizenship as there are those that are fighting for our country in order for us to be called citizens of the United States. As we all discussed this question we all had similarities of what citizenship meant to us but, these were some of their initial thoughts discussed when this question was addressed.
Next, I asked the question of “What do you think are the best things about our world today?” Everyone was eager to answer this question as they all had a commonality in their answers. Everyone around the table mentioned in their answer about how our world has shifted drastically to encourage everyone to be their authentic selves and to be genuine. We all agreed that society has changed from strict guidelines to how now each person is encouraged to do something out of their comfort zone each day. Technology was also mentioned by Christina that the advances that have happened in our world are indescribable and she loves to be able to use technology to capture the beauty of our world. Overall with this question, relationships, authenticity, and the overall beauty of the world is what makes this world the best.
We then discussed the question of neighbors and if the people around the table knew or currently know their neighbors. Everyone had funny neighbor stories of when they were little. Some mentioned that their neighborhoods always had parades and a tight knit community while others said that they had never had more than a five-minute conversation with their neighbor. Not many of them were able to have a sit down, home cooked meal with their neighbors, but some would know their neighbors very well. They then shared stories of how when they each started at college and how they needed to meet their roommates and neighbors. They explained that some went knocking on doors to introduce themselves, while others waiting for the knocking on their door. Each then agreed that having those relationships with neighbors is very important, but it takes in work. Once mentioned that they have a crazy schedule and are not home so they have to work very hard to get to know who they are living next to. As many of the participants will be graduating soon, they agreed that they want to, wherever they live, to be able to know their neighbors as best as they can.
The question of “Do you think we have any obligations to other people in our country?” came up, was thought on, and was answered and discussed. Emily said that she believed that we should be trying to help others around us to the best of our availability especially if we have those resources around us. Everyone agreed as to there is a need to show compassion and help others who need this help. I then told them about our reading by Ivan Illich, “To Hell With Good Intentions” and how he stated that there is major concern in helping those who need help. Everyone around the table was very interested in this view as they had not thought about the negative impact of helping others. Many of the people around the table had been on mission/service trips and told their stories of what they did. This spurred good conversation as to what may be the best way to help those that need help. We came to a common consensus that we need help those to be able to help themselves to get back on their feet.
Lastly, we discussed as a group of social issues in our world. The ones brought up (some duplicated) were abortion, human trafficking, physician assisted suicide, gun control, and environmental issues. Everyone discussed why there were passionate to these certain issues and how we answer these issues can determine our future world. Everyone around the table is involved in a religious organization, Young Life, and they all agreed that their religion played a major role in how they answered these tough issues. They all said that their faith was the backbone of how they view this world and that is how they came to their conclusions on these questions.
Before I had my Kentucky Kitchen Table I was not sure what to expect. I did not know the majority of the people that were going to be there, and I was not sure if they were going to give me fluff answers or actually tell me, a complete stranger, deep answers to important questions. As soon as we sat down for our meal and began chatting it felt so easy and normal and it continued to go well throughout the night. All of the attendees loved to talk about the questions and wanted to also share why they were so passionate on a particular topic. I learned throughout this whole process that people enjoy talking about these questions. They, in fact, want to discuss them even more. Each of the people wanted to keep talking and talking and got more into the whole conversation as it went on. Each person was respectable if there were differences and if their commonalities, people got to know that they were not alone in their opinions and were able to build off of each other.
Throughout the whole conversation I was thinking of how this dinner reminded me of our class. There was no yelling or crazy interruptions and each person was respectful of what one another had to say. “How We Talk Matters: by Keith Melville clearly shows why it is so important for everyone to be on the same page of respect and valuing of each person and the discussion that I had at my Kentucky Table I would fit into these guidelines very well. Our class, especially during deliberation, is like this and it showed me that discussion does not always need to be in classrooms for them to be insightful, but they can happen anywhere. If everyone is able to say what they believe, why they believe it, and then respect others opinions, then conversations are destined to be very informative and insightful. We must be willing to start and then continue in these conversations with those around us.