One of the hazards of teaching EFL overseas is that you end up having close, meaningful relationships with peole who are thousands of miles away. The kids in Korea, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep in touch with them. They could barely read, let alone email. I can accept that. They were also 5 when I had them and have probably forgotten me though I will never forget them (until I’m so old and crochety that I’m forgetting my own name anyway.)
However Diego Munoz was 12 when I met him. Great kid. Very outgoing and funny. Trust me, being funny in a second language is no mean feat. He and his family were instrumental in helping my husband and I get out of Chile when we found out that our school hadn’t filed the proper paperwork with Immigration and we were about to be deported. I’ve been in touch with Diego sporadically since we left. Not long before Christmas he and I started emailing more regularly. Very short emails, but still contact. I had an email in my inbox waiting for me to reply when the earthquake hit Chile. The news that it was close to Concepcion brought to mine the individual faces of all the people I had known during the 3 months I lived there and all the places I had been. I wondered if the skylights in the mall had shattered and if the roof over the walkway had fallen down. I wondered if the shelves Don Domingo had attached so securely to my library walls had endured. I emailed Diego immediately, but I haven’t heard back.
I can only hope that he and his family are alright. Last I heard from him, he was visiting his grandfather in Chillian which is closer to the epicenter, but not as heavily populated and further inland. However, school was supposed to start on Monday the first and he might have already been home. I remember their house, perched on a steep hill in a very night neighborhood. Their 2 big dogs and their inviting kitchen.
And I hope it’s all still there.