Kathryn Taylor, Co-President of TableTalk

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Kathryn Taylor is a double major in International Studies and Computer Science who is interested in pursuing a career in cyber policy. In addition to TableTalk, she’s involved in the Emory College Honor Council, EPASS Academic Coaching, Women’s Club Soccer, and research at the Center for the Study of Law, Politics and Economics.

Her Campus Emory (HCE)What is the mission of TableTalk?

Kathryn Taylor (KT): TableTalk works to connect people who don’t often interact. With all of our events and initiatives, we hope to find new ways to help members of the Emory community share their thoughts and unique perspectives. We believe that everyone stands to benefit from a culture of conversation where people honestly and comfortably engage with one another.

HCE: What does the club do?

KT: TableTalk has three branches: CampusCouches, TableTalks, and TableTalk[X]. Each branch has its own projects and initiatives that seek to connect people in different ways. Our CampusCouches team sets up sofas across campus every week and invites passersby to sit down and chat with someone they haven’t met before. TableTalks are dinners between two student organizations that don’t often interact, but have independently expressed interest in building a relationship or learning about each other. TableTalks facilitators organize and attend these dinners, but the groups’ members dictate the content of the conversation. TableTalk[X] is a small group of creative thinkers dedicated to conceiving and executing new projects and initiatives that meet TableTalk’s mission. [X] has created The Swipe Partnership, a program that brings together freshmen and upperclassmen over shared meals at the DUC. Each semester, [X] hosts a “Look Up” event at Wonderful Wednesday, where members give out free coffee to people who agree to put down their phones while they drink it.

HCE: What are some upcoming events?

KT: This week, [X] is holding an event called Meeting of the Minds (see the Facebook event here), where 12 students and three professors will sit down to a casual dinner to discuss the impact of smartphones on college life. We will have more Meeting of the Minds events later this semester with different professors and new, thought-provoking topics. [X] is also partnering with The Pulse and SPC on Couchella, an arts, music, and social event that will take place during Dooley’s Week this year. We are also currently collaborating with the IDEAS Fellowship on Professors at Kaldi’s Getting Coffee, an event every Wednesday where students can chat with three professors from different disciplines (see the Facebook event here).

HCE: How did you get involved?

KT: I spent the summer before my sophomore year working for an NGO in rural Peru. I lived in a house with 25 strangers without Wi-Fi, TV, or phone service. Because of this virtual isolation, we spent all our free time talking. This open, connected space allowed me to build great friendships with my housemates, many of whom I seemingly had nothing in common with. Returning to Emory in the fall, I missed this environment where talking to strangers was the norm. I was drawn to TableTalk because “talking to strangers” is central to the organization’s mission, and because of the incredibly dynamic, friendly people who were a part of it.

HCE: What is your role as President?

KT: As Co-Presidents, David Petrushka and I share the work of overseeing all of TableTalk’s projects and leading the executive board. We are constantly reaching out to administrators, professors, and other student leaders to develop and promote our initiatives. My favorite part is thinking big picture. There are so many interesting ways to bring people together on a college campus, and David and I spend a lot of time trying to find them.

HCE: What are TableTalk’s future goals?

KT: We hope for TableTalk to be the launch pad for all kinds of community-oriented events. When students or faculty think of new ideas to connect people at Emory, we want TableTalk to be their first thought. By increasing our collaboration efforts with other organizations, and by strengthening our current initiatives, we will continue to strive towards a culture of open and productive conversation.

HCE: How can students get involved?

KT: TableTalk accepts applications at the beginning of each Fall semester. The best way to get involved right now is to sit on our couches, come to a TableTalks dinner, or attend our upcoming events!