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Students with Friends Club strengthens Carlmont community

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

Attempting to end loneliness and isolation on campus, the Students with Friends Club spends their Tuesday lunch period socializing with those sitting alone. “We go out and find people sitting alone at lunch and offer to sit with them and start a conversation with them, trying to make new friends,” said Svante Aretun, the vice president of the club.

Originally published on November 12, 2021, on Scot Scoop:

I found out about this club by visiting one of its meetings as a photographer once, and I knew it was important right away. After contacting various members of the club, I was able to find out about their mission and had the honor of writing about it. I thought that this article had many faces: it was, at the same time, a campus news story and a human interest story. Stories that elevate human goodness such as this one are always vital to have in communities such as schools, and I'm glad I got to report on this group.

After a year of being at home, the Students with Friends Club aims to prevent loneliness and isolation among the Carlmont student population in an in-person learning environment.

Headed by president Areg Horoupian, the club holds meetings each Tuesday in D-7. The club’s mission is to find and sit with isolated students at lunch, fostering a supportive community on Carlmont’s campus and supporting mental health efforts.

Svante Aretun, a senior and the vice president of the Students with Friends club, explained the main benefit of the club as being able to help others. In addition, it looks good on college applications due to the extracurricular nature of the club. In the future, Aretun also hopes to add more benefits, namely volunteer hours.

“[Volunteer hours are] something that we’re working on,” Aretun said. “But hopefully, we’ll be able to give [them] in the future.”

According to Aretun, the club is critical because it provides the Carlmont community with extra support, something everyone needs now and then.

“It’s always nice to have someone there for you,” Aretun said.

“It’s always nice to have someone there for you.” — Svante Aretun

Aretun outlined his reasons for joining. Highlighting his own experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during distance learning, Aretun spoke to the detrimental nature of the isolation induced by distance learning and quarantine.

“During distance learning, I realized that feeling isolated and being away from other people had a negative impact on my mental health,” Aretun said. “There are people that go through that every day at school and are isolated and don’t have too many people to talk to.”

James Tokunaga, a senior who joined the club in September, also reflected on his experiences in Students with Friends, sharing what he felt made it essential.

“It means a lot to me to try to help others,” Tokunaga said.

“We just try to bring some ideas to keep making our community stronger and better.” — Martin Osorio, member

Martin Osorio, who is also a senior, had similar experiences. At first, he didn’t understand the importance of the club. His view changed as soon as he went out into the field and started sitting next to students who were eating alone.

“I talked to many people sitting by themselves and tried to introduce them to the community,” Osorio said. “Overall, we just try to bring some ideas to keep making our community stronger and better.”

By bonding with other students during lunch over shared interests or classes, Aretun and his fellow members can prevent feelings of detachment from happening to other students the way it happened to him over distance learning, building a stronger community.

Aretun said, “[The] benefit of the club is being able to go out and help others that are feeling like they’re alone or just don’t have anyone to sit with and give them some company.”

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