Illustrated by Natsumi
Thinking back in time when I was in middle and high schools, there were things that I somehow couldn’t do, or I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want myself to be seen going home alone or eating alone at a school cafeteria to name a few. However, it wasn’t very easy during the tween and teenage years to ask classmates to do something together, or imagining what if I would be turned down was beyond what I could handle.
Natalie was forced to eat lunch every day when she was in middle school, which, she thinks, lured bullies, and became a target for them. After she changed schools for high school, she made friends quickly and now enjoys her school life. Although she herself is not eating alone anymore, she never forgets how she felt having lunch alone every day. So she now invites whoever eating alone to join her table. Over time, she realized that “one simple act of kindness made a big difference, and so she wanted to effect change on a larger scale.” She eventually ended up designing an app, “Sit With Us,” that coordinates lunchmeats as wishing no one else should experience what she had to go through.
Using this app, a student who doesn’t have a lunch buddy yet can locate which table welcomes anyone who wants to join lunch together without embarrassment of asking it in public. According to Carolyn, spokesman of the Sit With Us team, “Natalie felt that if she had had just one person – one friend who had her back in middle school – then she would not have been a target for bullying.” I believe that there were students who might’ve been concerned about her and wanted to do lunch with her, but for them too, it might’ve required extreme courage to ask her to join them knowing that many other would see them talking to her who had already had eaten lunch by herself for a while. This app should also help potential friends who actually want to invite other students eating alone, but cannot do so in a full view of people.
I had my tween and teenage years in pre smartphone era, so I honestly hope that kids including mine own could gather the courage to say if they could join the lunch table in an old fashioned way. But, at the same time, I totally understand that things have changed, and we rarely spend a day without these devices nowadays. So, moving with the times, and utilizing whatever available such as this app to make their school days more enjoyable sounds priceless after all.
There are about 100,000 users in 7 countries worldwide. We don’t know what causes bullying exactly, but since we can eliminate one possible cause with this app, we should be so grateful to Natalie creating “Sit With Us.”
Natalie (16), Founder of Sit With Us