Rachel’s Kentucky Kitchen Table

By Rachel

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On Saturday, October 27, 2018, my Kentucky Kitchen Table Project took place around the kitchen table at my house in my hometown of Springfield, Kentucky. Springfield is a small, rural town in central Kentucky that has the reputation of being a friendly, close knit city where everyone pretty much knows each other. At my Kentucky Kitchen Table, I had dinner with my family and one of my mom’s friends that I knew but didn’t know entirely well. My family members involved in this dinner included my mom, dad, and older brother. My mom, whose first name is Karen, is a 48-year-old woman who is married to my dad and a mother to three children. Some specific things that define her include working full time for the Washington County School System as a food service worker as well as being the 14th child in her big family that consists of 15 children. My dad, Tom, is a 52-year-old man who is married to my mom and is a father to three children. He works at the family business which is a furniture store and is the youngest in his big family that consists of nine kids. Some words he uses to describe himself include humorous and easygoing. Christopher, my older brother, is a 23-year-old man who is from the small town of Springfield. He graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Broadcasting. Lastly, my mom’s friend’s name is Jennifer who is a mother of three with a military background. She has a bachelor’s degree and is currently working on a master’s degree. All of these descriptions are the ways in which the people who attended my KKT wanted to be described. Although these people seem similar since they all grew up in the same area, they all have different experiences and opinions that display the diversity that exists among them.
To start off the dinner, I asked the required question of what citizenship means to you. After looking stumped and thinking about it for a minute, Jennifer jumped in and said that service was a major part of citizenship to her. Christopher stated that it was about being a good person and treating each other right. My dad brought up taking care of the environment and my mom provided the general comment of helping others. Next, we went around the table and began to discuss what the best things are in the world today. Despite getting some negative comments about the world being mostly bad by what is displayed on the news, some answers that were thrown out included technology, more diversity in the world today, friendship, compassion, people coming together in a time of need, and even some simple answers of babies and old people. I then went on to start the discussion of their interpretation of the community we live in. When asked what kind of community they would like to live in, all of them agreed on a small rural community while Christopher added in a diverse community where race and sexuality are not noticed as much as just being a person. After asking what they loved most about their community, they are all generally agreed on the characteristics of a small-town atmosphere, no traffic, low crime area, and genuine people. The next question which asked if they knew their neighbors included some different answers. Jennifer stated that she did know her neighbor since her neighbor was her brother. The rest of my family members explained that they knew who they were and had small talk with them occasionally but did not know them personally because most of the people that live on my street keep to themselves. After an off-topic conversation about their neighbors, I switched gears and began talking about their jobs and how they relate to their role as a citizen. Jennifer, who is a nurse, stated that she has the responsibility to help people get well while Christopher acknowledged that his job as a board operator at the local radio station provided the public with entertainment. My dad said that he provided people with furniture to use such as a bed to sleep in and my mom brought up her job as a food service worker and how she provides kids with food, so they can learn. We then went on to acknowledge the question of if we have any obligations to other people in our country or in our community. All of them immediately responded with an unwavering yes to both questions with Jennifer and my dad adding an extra explanation to their answer. Jennifer reasoned that Jesus tells us to serve the less fortunate while my dad brought up that we should especially help those who have a difficult situation such as people who are born with and dealing with certain detrimental diseases. Next, we preceded to talk about what advice should be given to people running for office in our country or voters in general. Christopher had very particular opinions about what he would say such as keeping your promises and not just focusing on political party but on what the actual person believes. Jennifer jokingly added to cut taxes and then started to laugh. Lastly, I asked them what social issue is closest to their hearts. Jennifer brought up the lack of knowing the Gospel or turning away from religion. My mom said drug use among the population because it is killing many young people today. My dad then said gun violence was an issue because it is seen everywhere today. Christopher wrapped up the discussion by saying that stereotyping was a big problem because it’s not getting us anywhere as a society and is predominately judging a book by its cover.
I believe that all of the answers provided by each individual throughout the dinner helps to reveal a little bit about what each of the people value or think is most important in their lives. Jennifer’s answers seemed to all revolve around the ideas of religion and service, so she must value those things the most in her life. Christopher’s answers mostly were diversity and the importance of treating each other right, so he must think of these as important parts of life and being a good person. My mom and dad each had very general answers about caring and providing help to others in need, however they didn’t have a distinct theme like Jennifer or Christopher.
By having this meaningful conversation, I feel as though I have learned a lot more about the kinds of things my family and Jennifer believes. Specifically, their beliefs about citizenship in general helped me to see what being a citizen really means. According to them, being a good citizen means helping others out when they need it and being a good person to all. In addition, this project helped me better understand the people around me and see different topics and ideas from a different perspective than my own. This dinner allowed me to discuss topics with people that I never would have before because rarely does anyone have time anymore to sit down and talk about the real problems that exist in society and what should be done about them. Lastly, this project has given me the chance to actually listen and understand how they view the world. Learning these things connects to the central questions of the class by letting us talk about how we can live better together, solve problems, and help each other have more of a say over our own lives.
One reading that I thought related well to this project was “How We Talk Matters.” Within it, it discusses how good conversation and communication is needed to understand each other and know what each person values in their lives. In addition, this helps us to identify the problems that exist in our lives and the ways in which we can go about fixing those problems. It goes on to introduce deliberation and how this is needed to solve problems that are difficult in society. Although not a lot of differences were seen in the answers in my Kentucky Kitchen Table, good communication is still important in everyday conversations so that we are provided with a good idea of who a person is. Also, taking into consideration the things we say and how we say them says a lot about who we are and how others view us.
Overall, even though I was doubtful and didn’t think this assignment would allow me to see much difference between people, I am very glad that I did it. It allowed me to open my eyes and see that although some people can seem so similar, they are all actually very different because everyone lives a completely different life in which they experience many things that someone else doesn’t experience. This brought about some meaningful and insightful conversations that allowed me to form new perceptions of people that I thought I already knew.

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