I have always been good at recognizing faces.
When we are watching movies, my husband and I spend a lot of time wondering, “What else was she in?” and then looking people up on Wikipedia to figure it out. When I started teaching at ACS, 13 years ago, it was fun for me to go home after a school event and look up former classmates in my Dordt college yearbook (I don’t think they always recognized me, though!).
At Teacher’s Convention, there was always one face that got me, though. I would be part of the same workshop, or in the lunch line, and although she looked so familiar, I just could not figure out how we knew each other.
When we ran into each other while shopping one day a few years ago I was finally bold enough to introduce myself and ask if she had maybe gone to Dordt College with me, or if there could have been an Edmonton connection from my childhood, but that wasn’t it either.
I had a name to put with the face, but still no clue how I knew Julie.
Then this spring we got the news that we had hired a new grade 7 teacher—and it was Julie! As we started the school year we discovered that we had a lot in common, including daughters in grade 7 who were quickly becoming good friends.
One day as we walked upstairs to our classrooms, we started talking a little more about how we came to be at ACS. I mentioned that my teaching career started when my husband and I, as young newlyweds without educational degrees or experience, filled in as teachers at a school for missionary kids in West Africa way back in 1997.
“Which school?” Julie asked.
When I replied that it had been the International Christian Academy (ICA) in the Cote d’Ivoire, Julie stopped right then on the stairwell in surprise.
Suddenly we started to put it together…Julie had been a dorm assistant there at the same time!
Suddenly we could talk about shared memories of colleagues and snakes and students with malaria and so many other things that you can only understand if you have experienced it yourself. It took our friendship very quickly to a whole other level of familiarity, like when you reconnect with elementary school classmates on Facebook or after you are invited to someone’s home for a meal. We all crave connections and a sense of community, and I am glad to have found it again in such an unexpected way with Julie this year!
I went home the night that we finally put everything together to find my ICA yearbook from that time long, long ago. Here we are on the staff page together…and if you kind of squint a little bit, I think it even looks like we haven’t changed much at all!