July 20, 2012
By Lucy Cabrera, translated from El Correo de Queens
Lunch hour at Queens College has seen a great transformation since spring 2012 when Steven Appel created Lunchtime 2.0
Lunchtime 2.0 has changed the college’s cafeteria from a place where students usually eat, socialize and have fun with classmates with similar backgrounds, into a place where they also have an opportunity to socialize with students with different views of life.
Appel, assistant director and co-founder of CERRU (the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding at Queens College), points out that “this is a good way to bring people together. In this informal setting, students from different backgrounds have the chance to talk about their customs and traditions, as well as their worries and dreams for the future.” In his opinion, Lunchtime 2.0 seeks to develop the necessary cross-cultural empathy and understanding that is often difficult to achieve among students of different backgrounds.
Lunchtime 2.0 was designed to promote understanding and communication within the diverse student body at Queens College. Its main objective is to get students talking about their cultural backgrounds and ideas that matter.
Appel worked for a year developing Lunchtime 2.0. The program was so successful last semester that it will be offered again in the fall.
This initiative, supported by CERRU, builds on the philosophy behind Web 2.0 and increases cross-cultural interconnectedness in physical space, not just cyberspace.
Appel believes the program will continue to grow. “We shouldn’t underestimate the positive social change created by these interpersonal experiences for our students and for our country,” says Appel, who is also creating a manual to export the program to other high school and college cafeterias.