Making new friends is one of the hallmarks of the college experience and for Fatima Bishtawi ’17, hitting it off with freshman year roommate Amanda Mozea ’17 was key. But it wasn’t quite enough.
Inspired by her brother with special needs, Bishtawi had worked with Unified Sports throughout high school, and at the start of her freshman year at Harvard she connected with the Best Buddies program, which connected her to Andrew Peyron. And inspired by Bishtawi, Mozea followed. Now, Bishtawi and Peyron and Mozea and buddy Amy Richmond meet two to three times a month.
“Amanda and I usually hang out with our buddies together, and Andrew and Amy both love going to the dining hall so we usually just bring them over to Pforzheimer’s dining hall for brunch or dinner,” said Bishtawi. “Other times we hang out at their house [a group home on Concord Avenue] and talk. Sometimes we go to the Coop, which is a store they both love!”
“Amy is a coffee aficionado and fanatic. She loves Harvard gear more than any Cambridge resident that I’ve ever met,” said Mozea. One of Richmond’s first questions when she meets a new person, she said, is “Do you like coffee?” And no matter what the answer, “She will still love you unconditionally.”
For the two juniors, the quartet’s outings are a reprieve from the stresses of academics and an opportunity to refocus and reconnect with what — and who — is important.
“Things become simpler when I’m with Amy,” said Mozea. “If I’m upset because I didn’t do as well as I wanted on a test or on a paper she always asks me, ‘Did you fail?’ And when I tell her that I in fact passed, she says, ‘Then that’s OK.’ And she’s right. It’s OK. Amy gives me a perspective that I lose when I’m surrounded by people who are constantly trying to do more and achieve more and be better. I really value that — and her hugs.”