Find Your People: Leslie Smith Green ’94 and Nada Al-Thawr ’19
In 2014 Leslie Smith Green ’94 began an informal program of matching incoming international students with alumnae. Alums provide advice, emotional support, and, often, a well-stocked shower caddy—a luxury students don’t think to pack. In fall 2015 Leslie “adopted” Nada Al-Thawr ’19, who is from Yemen. The two have formed a close bond, often texting each other daily.
Nada is the fifth student I’ve adopted, and my experience with her has been the most influential. When she first responded to my message to students saying she’d love to be paired with an alum I could feel her excitement. Rather than pairing her with someone else, I decided to match her to me! We have become very close, texting often and sharing with each other about our families and experiences. Nada is from a country with borders that are closed due to a Saudi-led coalition that has her family pretty much trapped in their city, unable to work or even access their banks.
We first met in September 2015, not long after she arrived on campus. I took her to the mall to get a phone set up for her. The next night, I took her and some other firsties we’d met for frozen yogurt, and then we ended up roaming the campus, trying to get into all of my old dorm rooms. It was the best night. We had so much fun. The students thought it was great to see dorms they hadn’t been in, and I just loved being with them and regaling them with stories of the fun I had while there.
Nada has reminded me why I love and support—and encourage others to support—Mount Holyoke. That we can help someone with her background, knowledge, and talents attain an education so that she can go back and try to affect change in her home country is what it’s all about for me.
Coming to Mount Holyoke, I was throwing myself into an entirely new adventure. I didn’t know what to expect! However, during the summer before my first year, Leslie reached out to me and to a few other international students. The email was very sweet, and I was so excited to connect with an alumna from my future college.
As we talked more and as I met her in person, I developed a very special connection not only with her, but also with her family—her husband, Tom, and their young son, Ben. They felt like my family away from home, since—unlike many other internationals—I have no relatives or friends in the US.
The first time I met Leslie in person, I had such a wonderful time and felt very happy. We toured the different dorms, and she told me many stories of when she was a student at Mount Holyoke. We always talk and share our life events and news. So when I met her again this fall, it didn’t feel like it had been a year since we’d last seen each other.
I have learned so much from Leslie and have loved all the moments we have shared together.
It’s also special that when I graduate, Leslie will be celebrating her twenty-fifth reunion, so we will get to share yet another moment to always cherish and remember.
October 12, 2016