I conducted my Kentucky Kitchen Table on November 3rd, 2018. I did it around my own kitchen table in Hodgenville, Kentucky. There were eight people present. Vicky, who works part time as an accountant, Darin, who owns his own business and has held multiple management positions, Kenny, who is a retired veteran and has a tax business, Ruth who is retired, Rita, who is also retired but holds many responsibilities in her community, Kathryn, who is a college student, Jessica, who did not graduate from college but holds a job that pay minimum wage, and myself, another college student. I described every one’s job because it felt it had an important impact on the conversation that took place at this Kentucky Kitchen Table.
The people at this Kentucky Kitchen Tables all come from different backgrounds, political parties, and communities. With that being said, there still wasn’t much difference in the answers to the question “beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” Darin answered first with “freedom.” I thought this was very interesting and I thought someone would answer with a specific action that citizens do. Following that, Rita joined in and started talking about how it is our job as citizens to be informed and to inform others in the community. I also thought this was unique because it lead me to ask the question “do you think we have any obligations to other people in our country or community?” To my surprise, everyone around the table said yes. I found this shocking because everyone agreed even coming from different political parties, as usually, Republicans and Democrats have different views on who helps who.
The next part of the conversation dealt with the community. Even though people came from different communities, all of them being from Kentucky made them similar in the way that they are all small communities. The conversation started with a broad question about the world and the best part about it. Kenny jumped in and talked about freedom once again and the rights that citizens have in the United States specifically. Everyone continued with things like resources and money. Kathryn, being a college student, talked about education and how everyone has the right to education and how that has helped our world grow and become a better place, as people are more informed. This sparked interest in most people, since it was something people didn’t think about at first since everyone goes to school because it is just what you do in the United States. This lead into how blessed we all were to live where we do. The United States may sometimes seem like it is about to fall through, communities as well, but ultimately there are a lot of things, like education, that we take for granted. As citizens, we have a lot of responsibilities, but we also have a lot of rights, even if we don’t choose to take part in each. We also have rights in our communities that make us part of that community. Coming from small communities, everyone at this Kentucky Kitchen Table was describing the positives of their small communities. Rita started with knowing a lot of people. I agreed with this statement as it helped me get to the place I am in my life. Knowing people in your community makes it easier to communicate and, in some ways, helps make the community stronger.
Next was family. I asked the question, “did you ever have meals around the table with your family or neighbors growing up?” Mostly everyone answered yes to having family dinners. Ruth mentioned her family being close with some neighbors but never really having dinner around a kitchen table with them. She did, however, mention taking dinner in times of need and just going over to talk. I found this very relevant as well. I live in a neighborhood and know most of the people that live within. This also comes with a close community. My neighbors and my family will get together and talk all the time and even sometimes have dinner together. We all thought it was important for families to sit down and eat dinner together because it is a time to reflect on the day and take a break from our busy lives. I know for me personally, when I was younger my dad worked a lot and the only time I really saw him was at the dinner table. We were able to talk and relax until he had to go back to work, but it also made me think about what he was doing for my family. Within this conversation I asked the question about people’s jobs. As Vicky pointed out, money isn’t everything, but everyone at the table agreed that it helped if you had some. Everyone reflected on their lives at a younger age and realized that everyone worked in order to provide for their families. Kenny talked about working when he could to help out his parents. Darin told a story of his college years when he would come home every weekend in order to mow yards and make some money to help pay for his college. Me, being a college student, thought about how much college cost. I know college wasn’t as expensive when he went as it is now, but I also know he wasn’t making a ton of money mowing yards. This made me realize how much people have changed when it comes to jobs. It is a stereotypical saying, but todays work force doesn’t have the work ethic that people used to have. If everyone would have the same work ethic as people did twenty years ago, I feel that our world would be a better place because they would feel a sense of pride because they have something to work for.
The last part of the conversation was centered around people from different backgrounds. There are two people in my family who have significant others from different countries. With that being said, I have a lot of personal experiences with them. Rita, however, brought up another good point: people from the north are different. Being from Kentucky, we like to think we have “southern hospitality.” Rita recently took a trip to Connecticut to visit her family and celebrate her granddaughter’s college graduation. She talked to everyone about how she felt the people from the north are a lot different than the people from the south because they have different backgrounds than us. I think it is interesting how people notice such small things when they are speaking or interacting with others. From there I shared my experiences from high school when I was friends with our foreign exchange students. I loved talking to them and seeing how our lives differed just because of where we lived in the world. Darin also brought up one of his past coworkers who was from Turkey. He said similar things about talking to people with different backgrounds, but he also pointed out that the person he was talking with liked the United States and was curious to learn more about it.
Overall, I liked this assignment because I feel like it helped me understand citizenship and our world, country and community better. There were things brought up about citizenship that I hadn’t thought of and basically have taken advantage of since I’ve been alive. I also learned how important communities are. I think part of being a good citizen is getting involved in your community in order to help your community grow. In order to do that, you must communicate with those in your community and grow bonds. I know recognize how much goes into being a citizen, so hopefully I can start being a better one and so will everyone else at this Kentucky Kitchen Table.