McCall’s Kentucky Kitchen Table

            For my Kentucky Kitchen Table project, I ate dinner at my friend Jenna’s house on Friday, November 23, where I was joined by her and her family. I ate dinner with Jenna, her mother Denise, her father John, and her older brother Blake. Jenna is my friend from home who I became close to my senior year of high school. Jenna is now a senior at Walton-Verona High School. Prior to eating dinner with her, I had not seen Jenna in three months. Denise is a registered nurse at St. Elizabeth health center. John is a police officer at the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. Blake was a student at Lindsey Wilson College and is transferring to the University of Kentucky. We started off the dinner by talking about the Christmas tree that the family had just finished putting up in the living room. John talked to me about how he had a live tree every year growing up and how this year he decided to buy a live tree for his family. To preface the situation in a bit more detail for Jenna, Denise, John, and Blake, I talked about what Honors 251 is as a class. I described that Citizen and Self is a class focused on the social dilemmas and responsibilities faced by society and is based heavily in discussion between classmates. I asked the family the required question, “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” John seemed to speak up more often than the rest ofthe family and was clearly passionate about the topic of civic duties which is understandable considering his profession. To John, from what I can recall,citizenship meant contributing to society through work, being in the country legally, and obeying the laws. I realize that the question tries to exclude obeying the laws as a response, but John made it known that obeying the laws andrespecting authority is a large part of what he considers to be citizenship. John spoke calmly but firmly about the value he places on cooperation between citizens and law enforcement. John spoke passionately about his father immigrating from Europe as a child, bringing a perspective to his opinions that I would not have guessed. Denise took a more sensitive approach to her answer, focusing more on community relations. She thought of citizenship on a more individual, person to person level. To Denise, citizenship means helping others in order tomake the community a better place. Jenna, being a student all her life, valued going to school and getting her education as part of her duty as a citizen. Blake remained awfully quiet at the beginning of the discussion. I decided to shift the conversation to a different question to focus more on our own community on a smaller scale. I asked, “What is the thing you love most about living where you do?” Everyone around the table could agree that the main advantage of living in Northern Kentucky is the location geographically. We allagreed that we enjoyed living so close to a big city like Cincinnati without actually living inside the city. John pointed out that Northern Kentucky is generally a safe area with people who know each other and take pride in the area. John pointed out that economically Northern Kentucky is a good place to live due to the abundance of jobs brought by the industrial parks stationed there by big companies. After sharing stories about my grandparent’s old restaurant in my hometown called “Ponzer’s,” and Blake sharing stories from working at his uncle’s t-shirt printing business, I asked one last specific question to touch on the religious aspect of citizen’s lives. I asked, “Does your religious identity affect how you think we should treat other people?” Immediately, the entire family spoke a unanimous yes. I asked them to elaborate and Denise told me that she feels called by her religion to love other people. Her take on religion seemed to be her own answer to the question “How can we live better together?” According to Denise, Jenna, John, and Blake, loving one another and caring for each other is how we can live better together as a society.

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