This Kentucky Kitchen Table took place in Morgantown, KY on April 6th, 2019. My mom, Tonya, has grown up in Morgantown and is a florist in Bowling Green, Kentucky. My dad, Bill, is from Elkton, KY and is one half Filipino. He went to WKU as well for management, but he can no longer work due to his lifetime battle against juvenile diabetes. My brother and sister, Zack and Kylie also were able to enjoy the meal and give short comments; they are 13 and 10, respectively. Zack likes to play basketball and Kylie is a flute player in the Elementary School band. I, Madison, am a freshman at WKU majoring in Accounting. I also work with my mom at Deemer’s Flowers in Bowling Green. Zack, Kylie, and I have all grown up in Morgantown our whole life. Lastly, Emma is a mutual friend who I have not been able to get to know that well. She is originally from Morgantown, but she has recently moved to Bowling Green. She is a social work major and will be graduating this May.
Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, citizenship meant to my dad that people should be fair and sensible. The community in a rural town treated him differently as a minority, much different than how the average white man was treated growing up. Emma believed that we should feel obligated to act as citizens when dealing with moral and social rules, and that we should try to help when we notice others struggling in situations. My mom, Tonya, said that she thought as citizens of our community we should try to give back to the community through volunteering and assisting the community when we can. Zack and Kylie agreed this was a great way to help in our community. I believe that volunteering is a significant part in a citizenship role, and that being involved in community issues and topics would be a great way to have a part in local government, but our community has not held community discussions like deliberation.
When discussing the community we want to live in, some common themes were having a safe environment as well as a sense of familiarity, knowing we could depend on each other. I would like to live in a bigger environment than our town, but it would be nice to have a sense of security where I live. However, I feel that this would be difficult to achieve in a bigger city. Here in Morgantown, we love being able to know the community. Especially as a mother, Tonya said that she likes knowing the teachers and staff at school, knowing her kids are in a safe environment. Emma lives in Bowling Green, and she enjoys having the access to more resources that a rural community wouldn’t give; however, she is choosing to move to Morgantown once she graduates to be able to have the sense of security. One action we believe our community could improve on are the prejudices that community members have. The issues of prejudice may come from the lack of experiences with people from different backgrounds. Honestly, growing up in a small Kentucky county does not offer much room for these experiences. However, me and Emma both agreed that coming to Western gave up much more room for interactions with diverse people. Another implementation our community could use is more access to health care, especially mental health care. There are only three options for mental health care here in Morgantown. Emma is interning with a social work program in Morgantown now, so she has first-hand seen the effects of this. Our community could use some considerable growth in jobs as well. People cannot usually find decent jobs here, therefore most people move out for better opportunities. Our population in Morgantown has not grown considerably because of this.
With being a social worker, Emma feels that her job helps her be an active citizen in her community. She first-hand sees the parts of our community behind closed doors, while most of us do not see. Working at a florist, my mom and I agreed that we can brighten people’s day. Whether for a birthday, anniversary, holiday, or just because it is nice to know you created something that will put a smile on someone’s face you don’t even know.
Child abuse is one of the biggest social issues Emma wants to overcome, and she is fully contributing to that by pursuing a career as a social worker. The price of health care is especially close to my family’s hearts due to of my dad’s disease. He has been a diabetic since the age of 2 and has had multitudes of difficulties since then. The opioid crisis has had an impact on my mom since several of her family members have dealt with addiction and have not been so fortunate. My dad wishes there was less prejudice in the world and that people should fairly treat others now, no matter how diverse they are. Zack agreed, he said he wanted to end racism. We discussed the tradeoffs of this issue, in a rural community like ours, there is still racism and judgments against people, but it seems in bigger communities that people are less approachable, and many people are rude. Kylie said she doesn’t like animal abuse, and I told her Kentucky doesn’t have a strong policy against the abuse of animals. She would like to change that when she grows up.
Many of these topics related to our class. When discussing what we could do as citizens to improve our community, deliberation would be a great idea to establish. I would love to contact some teachers I was close with in high school to discuss if a deliberation project would be reasonable for a school project. I would have loved to learn about having more of an active role in citizenship in school and having a class like this one. When talking about the opioid crisis, I was able to refer to the reading we discussed that week “Seven Days of Heroin: This is What an Epidemic Looks Like” and discuss my viewpoints on the issue. Emma was able to discuss the effects here in our own community, and how people try to quit but it is difficult. In some situations, it is the norm of the family: since they grew up in that environment, it is easy to fall in the same path. Even when people are unable to visit their own children, they still struggle with drugs and getting the help they need. This directly ties with how people can have more say in their lives as well. If people had more help with their addictions, it would be much easier for them to regain control over their lives. While discussing our community and how to improve it, there were some great ideas on how to live better together. We all believe our community could use some changes, in Bowling Green and here in Morgantown. Growing up, we all knew our neighbors and would easily run across the street to borrow sugar or bring over cookies. In Emma’s apartment in Bowling Green, she said that they do not interact with their neighbors, only the front office.
This experience helped me apply the topics we’ve discussed in class to my real life. In the future, I would love to contribute back to my community and implement some of the ideas. Emma gave me insight about our community since I never realized the number of harmful issues such as opioids and child abuse. I learned about the prejudice in our community first hand from my dad, since he is from an ethnic background. He doesn’t speak much about these experiences, but he does note that they’re prejudice people in the community. None of us experience this simply because we are predominately white. It is nice to envision the community through the eyes of diverse people, and I overall enjoyed this experience. It would be great to do another dinner like this in the future to experience different viewpoints and backgrounds.