Kentucky Kitchen Table

By Austin

Let me start by saying I am a pretty awkward person as it is, and typing on my computer or scribbling notes while people were talking at dinner would have made me very uncomfortable and my awkwardness worse, so I did not record what everyone said verbatim. But while none of these answers are exactly what the guests said, I questioned them until I understood their answers enough that I could write about them without changing their intended meaning.

So let us begin.

INTRODUCING FIRST! From LaRue County, Kentucky, standing at 5’ tall, Mrs. Katy Cecil! Mrs. Cecil is a high school English teacher and Larue County High School’s Speech and Debate head coach. She has been a mentor to me since my freshman year of high school. In fact, she is the one that convinced me to apply to college in the first place, and she still helps me when I have no idea how to do something… like organizing a dinner with people I don’t know. Also, she is the reason that our dinner wasn’t a potluck. She wanted tikka masala, which only Mr. Cecil knew how to cook, and nobody else knew how to complement.

Introducing second, from somewhere in Colorado, standing at 6’3” (ish), Mr. Cecil! He is also a teacher, but he teaches Honors and AP Chemistry. I never had Mr. Cecil because as a sophomore in high school I was somewhat of a slacker and took the easy class. He cooked dinner and it was absolutely amazing.

Next, we have the Cecil’s daughters, Elena and Elise. Elena is 15 and attends the high school that her parents teach at, and Elise is 10 and goes to an elementary school in the same town.

The man taking the picture is Ellis Fraser. He grew up in Louisville, but moved to LaRue County his senior year of high school and competed on the speech team that Mrs. Cecil coaches. He went to WKU for a degree in Film, but now he is the assistant coach of the Speech team.

Also there, but not pictured, is my friend Damon Helton. I told you I’m awkward, so I wanted someone goofy there to counteract my awkwardness. He answered some of the questions, but his answers won’t be featured in this post.

I think it’s safe to say that while this group of people has much in common, there is a fair amount diversity. All different age groups are represented, from Generation X, all the way to the new generation born after 2000 that there isn’t even a name for yet. Ellis and I are both Millenials, but even though we are technically the same generation, there is quite a bit of difference in what we remember from the ‘90s. Also, perhaps most obvious, Ellis is black. I think that gives him a rather unique perception of the world. Less obviously, I am Mexican. I may not look Mexican, and I may not have a Mexican name, but I can assure you I group with plenty of Latino culture in my house. Also, we were all born in different places and we’re all from different financial backgrounds. Ellis was born in Germany, I was born and grew up in LA, Mrs. Cecil is from Kentucky, and Mr. Cecil is from Colorado. Even the Cecils’ daughters were born in Michigan. All of this contributed to our collective uniqueness, which I hope will be enough to make this post what it needs to be.

Now for the fun part, dinner.

I started out with questions from the packet, like “Do you see your job as serving a greater purpose?”  but it eventually just turned into a conversation about community. It was quite interesting hearing the benefits of small town from someone that grew up in a small town, left their small town, and eventually came back to find that they loved it even more. Mrs. Cecil said that nothing can beat being able to text the pharmacist a question, and knowing they will reply almost immediately. It’s actually quite funny seeing things like that in action. Mr. Cecil agreed that it is nice knowing everyone and knowing that if he was running late, he could call and the pharmacy, or the bank, or the grocery store would stay open for him. He did say, however, that he would prefer to live in a big city. Ellis, too, said he likes the city more than small town life. But they both acknowledge the benefits of being close with the people of your community. It’s all relevant to our class because a big part of what we talk about is community based; community communication, community betterment, etc. Even the wicked problems that we’ve discussed, all of the papers that we’ve read agree that the changes necessary to “solve” them have to start at the community level.