A Short Novel by Connor
The following gathering takes place at Sunset Apartments in Manhattan, KS.
The date is April 26, 2018. Stomachs continue to growl as the eyes of five hungry college students gaze upon a massive pan filled to the brim with tasty fettuccine Alfredo.…
Each one of the questions asked by the supervisor (me) are the same for each of the four other participants (Nate, Erin, Teresa, John,). Aside from the required “citizenship” question, the remaining discussions are chosen based on character depth, or the capability to reveal and learn more about other participants on a personal level. Rather than bouncing off each other’s ideas, every participant in the room takes a turn talking in a circle. As time progresses, it is apparent each person becomes more comfortable discussing sensitive topics which reveal their beliefs, morals and values (it might have been the alcohol, too).
Nate – Nate is a sophomore from Moline, Illinois majoring in statistics, with a minor in theater and performing arts. If you were walking through campus, it would be close to impossible to miss him, whether by sound or sight. He is very tall, measuring in at a whopping 6 foot, 6 inches, with a personality that fits his appearance. He is extremely outgoing, well spoken, and has a heart the size of Texas. Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, Nate believes there is more to being a citizen of this country than simply “keeping it legal.” He believes that citizenship is being a part of a society, having an identity and staying active in helping his community. Nate’s motto in life comes his grandfather (used to be an NFL player). “You win some, lose some and some are rained out.” This applies to Nate in times of triumph, despair and unfairness.
Erin – Erin is freshman from Overland Park, Kansas, majoring in hospitality management. She enjoys long naps, watching Riverdale and visiting the Varsity Truck on the weekends. When she grows up, she wants to own a five star beach resort. Her greatest fear is not getting married, but I think she will turn out fine. Erin firmly believes her job at Smoothie King serves a greater purpose than just making some extra bucks. She recalls to a time on the job when she experienced an act of selflessness. “There was this one time when a woman came into Smoothie King and explained to me how she was suffering from thyroid cancer. She wanted to know which one of our products was most suitable for her condition. I suggested for her to order the vegan smoothie because it had the most health benefits we had to offer. I felt like I walked a little taller that day after helping that lady.”
Teresa – Teresa is a junior from Olathe, Kansas, majoring in interior architecture and product design. She appears small and petite, but is extra, extra sweet- an absolute firecracker. She is not afraid to speak her mind, and is demonstrated when sharing her “two cents” to the group. Although Teresa is of Italian descent, she identifies as a patriot of this country. “I identify as a citizen of the United States, therefore it gives me a sense of social identity and belonging. I take pride in that.” She describes herself as a creature of habit. “I like to follow a set schedule for my day. When my schedule doesn’t go as planned, it creates an avalanche effect and everything seems off.” Despite her short height, Teresa has big aspirations for her future. She hopes to hold a position that exhibits leadership and power, all while sticking true to her morals and values- treat everyone equally, generate a hostile-free environment and work hard all while having fun.
John – John is a senior from Salina, KS majoring in business. He’s a big Cats guy, so Manhattan holds a special place in his heart, especially Aggieville. After spending four years here at K-State, he values the sense of diversity the most. “For the most part, we’re all one big purple family. There is something about the close-quarters atmosphere of this town. It is not just the students, but he natives as well. It’s a special atmosphere that you sure as hell can’t find in Lawrence.” John’s personality is laid back, but there are certain issues that make him tick. One in particular is the planet’s pollution crisis. It bothers him knowing that humans are responsible for destroying the environment they live in. Going forward, he ties this in with his concluding life motto- don’t be a douche, be open minded.
After discussion time progress, two more participants walk in, sit down and join the discussion. I decided to exclude them from the description due to them not fully participating…
Overall, the Kansas Kitchen Table experience has made me realize how something as simple as a dinner gathering can bring a group of people together. Being college students, we often do not have time in our hectic schedules to spend time and have genuine conversations with others over a home-cooked meal. This experience reminded me much of what it felt like to have dinner back home with my family.