Friendship Developmental Lunches: meet a new friend every day

Two strangers take a walk across the street to Trader Joe’s. They joke around and laugh while buying food and then walk back to school where they sit down– phones off –and talk. They talk about school, friends, family and life. A wrap from Trader Joe’s unfolds into a meaningful conversation. Could this be the beginning of a deep, long-lasting friendship?

Brian Russell, senior, began a program that he calls Friendship Developmental Lunches (FDL) at the beginning of his senior year, after he found himself without a close-knit group of friends, since many of them graduated last year. With FDL, Russell eats lunch with a different person every day, expanding his friend group and deepening his relationship with the people around him.

“The senior and the junior classes were really close last year,” Allison Gennette, senior said. “I know (Russell) had a lot of senior friends who just left. I know a lot of people who are in the same position.”

Russell reached out to the people on his SnapChat list during summer and asked if anybody wanted to have lunch with him. “I got an overwhelming response. People were so willing to do it,” Russell said.

Gennette emphasized the significance of a face to face conversation.

“I think it’s important to know that people do care about you and they are setting time aside to get to know you more and develop that and just make sure you are doing okay, to connect on a personal level,” Gennette said. “I’d like to instill (the lunch program) throughout the whole school and see if we can get other people involved with it.”

Russell highlights the significance of a one on one conversation as well.

“When you have a one on one conversation with somebody, their personality is entirely different than in a group,” Russell said.

Grant Hoffman, senior, knew Russell in elementary school but fell out of touch during sophomore year. Hoffman was the first person Russell had lunch with this year.

“All we have in life is the connections we make,” Hoffman said. “It’s really important to meet as many people as you can because everybody has their own story. He’s meeting people who he’s always wanted to talk to and he never did, or meet up with people he’s fallen out of touch with.”

Russell wants to be a communications major in college. The FDL program is helping Russell develop his conversation and communication skills which will come into play in his future.

“Everybody has different personality types and traits,” Russell said. “The more people you meet, the more different types of people you see and you become more accepting of people.”

Russell said last year he felt “self conscious and worried about seeming cool.” Going into his senior year, he left those insecurities behind him.

“In high school especially, we are all so obsessed with seeming cool. I think that actually saying ‘Hey, let’s go get lunch’ with somebody is one of the coolest things you can do,” Hoffman said.

3 Comments

  1. Caroline Malouf

    September 16, 2017 at 9:33 am

    I’m so proud of him and his courage! I hope this spreads to other schools and even to adults groups.

  2. David Harris

    September 16, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    So proud of my Grandson, this is a wonderful program.

  3. Noah Masyr

    September 16, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    That’s my boy Brian, I’m proud of my buddy and I hope people learn the importance of true human connection through this. In high school there is such a group mentality and everyone wants to fit in. I’m glad to him breaking the mold. Way to go dude!

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