Adapting and Evolving During the Pandemic, and the Challenges That Come With It

This is the second post in our Summer 2020 blog series on how “We Create Community” in the time of Covid-19.

By James Hansen Velinskie, Student, Kingsborough Community College

They said that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and our Bring Your Own Lunch (BYOL) event is no exception. Our Bring Your Own Lunch events are discussion groups for our student body that we hold every other week on campus. They follow a certain theme that is determined at a previous date.

Thankfully, we were able to keep the BYOL events running this semester with a lot of hard work, ingenuity, and some inspiration from our Kingsborough professors. The inspiration for taking our BYOL event online actually came during my astronomy class when my professor was talking about what changes would occur if we had to move the class online because of the pandemic. Since my professor, like most of my past professors, was using PowerPoint to teach the class, he said it would be as simple as moving the PowerPoints to Blackboard, where most already were, and then hosting a video-based lecture every day of class to go over them, just as we would in a normal class.

Upon hearing that it was becoming more and more likely that we were going to be moving online but that didn’t mean things had to change that much, a lightbulb appeared over my head, and an idea began to form on how to keep our BYOL events going this semester. The idea was to take our BYOL event and condense it down to a PowerPoint while providing the same resources and information that our students would have gotten had they been on campus. After getting approval from my office, I set to work creating the format of our new BYOL event which we had taken to calling Bring Your Own Lunch Home Edition and, as a joke, Bring Your Own Living Room.

The format of the event was simple. The first slide is for the title of the event; we decided to call them episodes to make it more fun and a better fit for the online environment. The next slide is dedicated to a quick summary or recap of events related to the pandemic and CUNY to keep our students informed about what is going on. I chose a Star Wars credit crawl to help grab and keep the reader’s attention. Our next slide is titled “Make Your Own Lunch.” We usually serve refreshments at our event, but since that was no longer possible, we chose to post recipes here to give our students something fun to do and, hopefully, something healthy to eat. The bulk of slides after this one make up the event itself and contain the information and resources that we wish to convey to our students. The closing slides after this were added to give our students a little something extra, whether it be our Coronavirus information slide that holds safety tips and links to websites with up-to-date information or our Binge It slide, where we post shows and movies for our students to watch from different streaming services. The final slides credit the people who worked on the event as well as any offices or departments that we may have worked with, and we close with a powerful and inspirational quote.

Everything has its own challenges, however, and we definitely had a few of those this semester. Thankfully, though, they were nothing too hard to deal with. They mainly had to do with people submitting work late, which I am sure we have all dealt with at one point or another, and problems with conflicting formats, which were not too hard to fix.

I have always believed and often said that every cloud has its silver lining and that it is thanks to darkness that we come to appreciate the light, and some day when this cloud has passed and the darkness recedes, we will have a new understanding and appreciation of our world and our lives. We will remember the people whom we lost but also the people whom we met; we will remember the memories that we made and regale each other with stories for years to come; and some of us will take what we learned and created and continue to use it so that we may continue to grow and learn from this. I hope that you will join me and my office in doing just that.

James Hansen Velinskie is a student at Kingsborough Community College, where he serves as the Senior Peer Mentor in the Opening Doors Learning Communities Peer Mentor program.

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