I was sitting in a bar/restaurant in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (Isla San Cristóbal) the other day working away on my computer when a fellow approached and politely asked what my name was. I was a little puzzled by this but replied, “Felipe,” which is what usually gets most traction in such situations.

He very tentatively said, “Sherwood?”  which with a  bit of a Spanish accent tends to come out a bit like “Shair-wood.” At this point I was startled and looked at him closely. Some faint recollection couldn’t quite form in my head, and I couldn’t help but blurt out, “Yes! How did you know that?”

Well, turns out he was the dad of a student I had in one of my classes when I taught at Colegio Interamericano, in Bahía de Caráquez, on mainland Ecuador, some six or seven years ago. He and his wife, whom I had met in and around Bahía, are on a vacation in the Galápagos and happened into the same restaurant I was in, and recognized and remembered me! We ended up chatting for quite a while, talking about mutual friends and acquaintances, how things had been going in Bahía for the last several years, and so forth, and parted with warm embraces.

To say that I was flattered grossly understates my feelings. I was really deeply touched and gratified to hear, so much time later and in such an improbable way, that I had had a positive effect, had helped a student along. Late into the evening I was still thrilling over the encounter, and I’m sure I’ll always have it in my “Teaching Paybacks” ledger.

Goddamn, every once in a while I guess you actually do manage to get something right and leave something constructive and enduring behind. Sure feels good to hear about it.

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