Volunteer Profile: Mary Mitchell Goodman, Guide to a New World

Mary Mitchell Goodman (right) with her students from the Classes of 2016-2019

Mary Mitchell Goodman, a community and environmental activist from Weekapaug, Rhode Island, first became part of The Initiative To Educate Afghan Women while she was teaching English and English as a Second Language (ESL) at Providence Country Day School in East Providence, Rhode Island. Now as member of its Advisory Board, Mary teaches in The Initiative’s New Student Orientation Program, where she helps newly arrived students become acclimated as they prepare for their college experience in the United States.

Mary's strength and nurturing qualities set her students at ease as soon as they arrive for the New Student Orientation program. For many the trip is their first away from home. Mary organizes fun activities such as movie nights, exploring the Providence area and official visits to the Rhode Island State House to meet state legislators. Mary even takes her students for their first visit to the ocean and teaches them to swim!

Mary and her students become close as they learn from each other about their respective cultures. “Mary and her entire community of supportive friends and neighbors welcome our students arriving in the US with open arms,” says Executive Director Christian Wistehuff, adding, “What Mary gives our students is immeasurable.”

It is not all fun and games, however. Mary also teaches her students how to prepare for a rigorous college program with classroom work on critical thinking, advanced grammar, how to conduct online research, term paper writing and public speaking. Her work with students begins even before they arrive in the United States with writing assignments that encourage them to find and use their voices to express themselves in essays and poetry.

Mary Mitchell Goodman is the ideal guide for The Initiative’s new students to become acquainted with their new environment as they complete their studies. She provides a critical step for her students to flourish in the US and a role model for them to make a difference in their own communities when they return to Afghanistan!

"Mary and her entire community of supportive friends and neighbors welcome our students arriving in the US with open arms. What Mary gives our students is immeasurable"

- Christian Wistehuff, Executive Director

Editors note: Bethany Richards and Alix Zuckerman interviewed Mary Mitchell Goodman as part of the University of Rhode Island Harrington School of Communications and Media course, COM310: Special Topics - Real World Partnerships, designed and taught by Professor Daphne Bui Wales and Christian Wistehuff.

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