For my Kentucky Kitchen Table, I went to Mallory’s house in Bowling Green on March 29th. There were four attendees, which included myself, Mallory, Mallory’s younger sister Lindsey, and their mother Sherry. Mallory and I are both freshman at Western Kentucky University. I’m an exercise science major and enjoy playing soccer in my free time. Mallory is officially a biology major but she is still exploring her options. She loves to do yoga in her free time. I met Mallory last semester through a mutual friend and have had two classes with her, Citizen and Self and a biology class. I met Lindsey and Sherry very briefly last semester but haven’t spent a lot of time with any of them. Lindsey is homeschooled and a junior in high school who loves to dance and is even considering teaching it one day. Sherry works from home transcribing medical records and is very involved with the youth groups at her church.
To begin the evening, the four of us sat around the table and got to know a bit more about each other. Sherry asked some questions about my major, hometown, and what I wanted to do for a career, and she told me a bit about her job. She said she really enjoyed it because she is able to do it from home and it gives her more time to be with her family and be involved with her church.
What does citizenship mean to you?
Sherry said a prayer to begin our meal. “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” was the first question we tackled. Sherry started us off and explained that she thought being a citizen meant you felt like you belonged. Beyond just living in the US, she has a sense that the country is a place she is welcome and belongs. I agreed with that and also said that I thought being a citizen meant you really cared about the country and its people, want it to be a better place, and have opinions about issues within the country. The four of us all seemed to agree on both this and what Sherry initially shared.
What do you think are the best things in our world today?
Next, Mallory asked what we thought were the best things in the world today. She began by saying that one of the best things is how we can communicate so easily with people around the world. We all agreed because it makes it easier to keep in touch with friends and family that don’t live close by. The closest extended family I have to home is in North Carolina, so technology has been extremely beneficial in maintaining our relationships.
Do you know your neighbors?
Next, we talked about whether or not we know our neighbors. Sherry, Mallory, and Lindsey laughed as they told me about a few of their neighbors. They told me that they knew the neighbors on their immediate left and right, and Sherry told me about one strange interaction she had with another neighbor that lives across the street. They talked about the man that lives by himself next door to them, and Mallory and Lindsey shared that they often cat-sit for him when he goes out of town for the holidays. I currently live in PFT, and said that I do know the majority of the girls on my floor. I then explained that I only really know and have a relationship with one of my neighbors at my home in Richmond. They are an older couple that lives immediately to the right of us. Our neighbors on the other side just recently moved in, and I shared that I had met them and we’re friendly with one another, but I don’t know a lot about them.
Does your job serve a greater purpose?
We moved on to talk about whether or not we believed our jobs served a greater purpose. I am a sports writer for the Herald here at WKU, and while I would like to think my job does serve a greater purpose, I couldn’t really think of any reasons that it did. However, Sherry, Mallory, and Lindsey all said that they felt their jobs served a greater purpose. Mallory works at a local school in its after-school program and Lindsey works at a local dance studio.
Do you think we have obligations to other people in or country and community?
Finally, we discussed what our obligations are to people within our community. Sherry talked a bit about how it was hard to find a balance with our obligations to others, bringing up how it isn’t always safe to help people, with a specific example being people out in public asking for help and money. That’s when Mallory brought up the video we watched in class of the girl in China who was repeatedly hit by a vehicle while bystanders failed to do anything to help her. We talked about how some people may have walked by out of fear that it was a scam, but I mentioned that if you are afraid for your own safety, you can always call authorities to come help. We all agreed that if you don’t feel safe inserting yourself in the situation, you don’t necessarily have an obligation to do so. However, we all felt that there’s always something you can do, like calling the police to help, and are obligated to at least do that.
While I did grow up having dinner every night around the table with my family, we didn’t always have the deeper conversations that this meal consisted of. Through our conversation, I felt like I got to know Mallory a bit better and on a different level than I had before. I also feel like I learned some things that will help going into the deliberation, as we had to prod a bit at the beginning to really get the conversation flowing. Two of the central questions of this course ask how we can live better together and how we can solve problems. I felt that the KKT experience related to both of these questions because in order to live better together, we must have a better understanding of each other. I felt that the conversation I had with Mallory, Sherry, and Lindsey certainly gave me a better understanding of them. Additionally, I think that understanding and engaging with each other builds a better base for us to solve problems, so that multiple perspectives are brought into play. Overall, my KKT was a positive experience that I was glad to share with Mallory, Sherry, and Lindsey.