On April 6th, 2019, Taco night was held in my dorm kitchen in Southwest hall of Bowling Green. The original plan was to hold it at my family’s house with my friend from high school over curry, but my family is leaving the country the next morning. Taco Night consisted of 7 people who were all in my fraternity on campus, although others were in attendance but did not participate in the discussion and were at a different table. The guests include Kristine, who is a graduating pre-med student from Scottsville, Ky who is my chapter president and Kristen who is also a graduating pre-med student and a Fraternity brother. Christy is a graduating communication disorders student from Evansville who has traveled Spanish speaking countries and Ben is a physical education student. Brittney just spent a semester at Disney and is a graduating transfer student with a minor in musical theater and Kayla is a social work major who is also a lead resident assistant in the housing and residence life department. With a wide array of people at the table tonight, we enjoyed turkey and beef tacos fitting the different dietary needs, which was addressed at the table.
Initially we made dinner all together and brought ingredients per person. The new dorm kitchen made it easier to work together and make dinner. We talked about the difficulties of midterm exam season and how the early spring break effected the pushed midterms, making the difficult exams extra taxing. Kristine talked about how graduating that semester made it hard to care about individual exams as they seemed so much smaller in comparison to where she was going in life in just a few short months. Christy talked about how she was a graduating senior and leaving undergrad school was giving her anxiety because she isn’t sure what she wants to do beyond graduation. I asked everyone if they were wanting to go back to their hometowns after college. Kristine and Kristen said they would consider it, but Christy thought of her hometown- Evansville, IN- as more of a home base from her traveling. Brittney is planning on joining the work force soon after graduating and wants to jump in to a career where ever it is offered for her. Ben however wants to stay in Kentucky specifically as long as the governor doesn’t “screw up” the life of a teacher.
When asked about what it means to be a citizen, other than voting and paying taxes, and oddly enough the first thing someone said- Christy- was giving money to someone who is homeless on the street. She said she had offered food more than money though and likes to have conversations with the people. Christy said she enjoys hearing people’s story about living and surviving. Kristine found this kind of interesting but worried about Christy’s safety. Christy commented the safety of those people who live impoverished lives and who are interacting in a public atmosphere. Ben said that he is very uncomfortable when people approach his car, but being a citizen means participating in conversations with shared problems are important to him. Conversations can be in the form of a formal deliberation or a dinner like this one.
Ben talked about being a PE teacher and how he understands there will be all types of children with their own things going on. I asked him if he thought he was a kind of public servant, and he really thought he was just giving kids the opportunity to be healthy. He thinks students aren’t active enough and that its sad when there aren’t kids on the playground or riding bikes. Kristen mentioned her service work with her church back in high school, although she is more disconnected now. She said she went on a mission trip and met a lot of cool people. I remember the article about American missionaries and asked her what value she got from her trips. She mentioned that it felt important in the moment, but she felt like she spent more time fundraising for the trip than preparing for what public acts she was going to be doing. When she finally got there, she didn’t know the work they would be doing and when she left it was over and there was no way to tell if she had actually helped a community. Beforehand, I had no relation to that article but now I understand more about how missionary work as a servant with religious purpose could be unfulfilling and ill-suited.
Kayla brought up her role as serving the public, and she was really interested in how she will serve the community. She believes that being a citizen means contacting congressmen about problems and also far down at the other end helping an elderly person load their car with groceries. It was the sense of community that she loves about Bowling Green which she said is a bit scarcer in Nashville. I found her comparison interesting. I asked one of the questions with a twist asking more about, which type of person do you want to be, and does that say something to where you would you want to live? Kristine was really excited about this question and responded with how she is moving and wanted to mention how Bowling Green has always felt like a very warm place to live. For her, it was interesting because she isn’t from here, yet she feels like its home and fosters her best self. Kristine looked at her tacos and said that it was because there were so many types of people who create a diverse atmosphere to where we have amazing tacos and amazing Bosnian food. Kristine bringing up the Bosnian food being accepted and wanting the food made me think of the Bosnian treatment story we read, because it is culture that is persecuted, and it is amazing that such a small place in Bowling Green can accept all types of people.
I chose this time to ask about social issues, and Christy brought up the fact of poverty and the language barrier, one I hadn’t thought a lot about. She didn’t explain much about either, but she said that there is a separation between classes that makes it difficult to live together peaceful. Ben preached to the girls at the table and mentioned the gender wage gap and provided a first hand account to where he found out he was making more money than a girl who help the same position. He said what we all have said before, and that he never thought he would be affected by the problem and then he mentioned that we treat society’s problems like the are normal, and that is the biggest problem of all. We derailed for a while and talked about the quality of ground turkey in tacos and how to make shredded chicken.
I learned a lot about my fraternity brothers’ aspirations in life and their outlook on how they are bettering the community. The conversation was insightful but also pleasant. I expected people to respond shyly to my questions, but really everyone was really open to the idea of a conversation. The conversation touched on some public issues, but also excited me to want to know more about their ideas and concerns for the community, especially when relating to their field of studying. I found doing this with other college students really prospered the idea of having an intellectual web where we can foster ideas and share opinions.