Student support has been pouring in for TRU’s first virtual speed friending event, which took place on Feb. 27 over BigBlueButton. The event welcomed 53 students looking to socialize and make new friends during the pandemic.
“It 100 per cent exceeded all expectations,” says TRU’s learning strategist, orientation and transitions coordinator, Payton Comazzetto, who oversaw the event. “ We were gonna stop the event after an hour, but the students demanded that it continue, so it lasted three hours.”
For the first two hours, the students were randomly divided into small groups, where they were given ten minutes to get to know each other before being shuffled into a new group. For the last hour, students were allowed to chat amongst themselves freely.
Students from various backgrounds and programs participated in the speed friending event, including a mix of both undergraduate and graduate students.
“About 50 per cent [of participants] were in Kamloops, and 50 per cent were somewhere else,” said Comazetto. “The majority were new to TRU.”
Commazetto organized this event in hopes of helping combat student loneliness.
“We get tons of emails about how to connect with peers…We’ve found that students really just want to talk. Giving them a platform to do that was really important to me.”
Comazetto sent a SurveyMonkey to all participants in hopes of gathering feedback. Very quickly after the event finished, she started receiving overwhelmingly positive responses.
“Within five minutes of me putting it up, we got four responses…We’re up to sixteen now,” says Comazetto. “100 percent have answered they would like another one in February.”
Emiliano Garcia Ochoa, a first-year software engineering student who moved with his family to Kamloops from Mexico in 2019, was one of the participants.
“I was waiting to come to Canada and meet so many people, and then [COVID-19] happened,” said Ochoa. “I cannot see my friends in Mexico. I cannot see my friends here because of restrictions, so this was something fun and different to do.”
Ochoa may have made some lasting connections at the event.
“I exchanged Instagrams with some people. There are people I’ve talked to [since the event], and they’re nice. With proper safety, or when the pandemic is over, we might go for a hike.”
Ochoa is one of the many participants who would be willing to participate in a follow-up speed friending event.
“I would definitely go…I feel like, with my experience from the first one, I would definitely go to a second edition,” Ochoa said.
Comazzetto is already planning a follow-up event for late February. She plans on incorporating games into the event after receiving student suggestions to do so. Comazzetto hopes to continue receiving student input as she develops a plan.
For more information on the follow-up event or other opportunities to make friends, students are encouraged to reach out to TRU Student Life via email.