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That Special Teacher

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Everyone lucky enough to have had a teacher that truly impacted, or even changed, their life will identify with this story.


When Jamil Jan Kochai, now 30, entered second grade, he was terrified. Emigrating to the U.S. from Pakistan when he was just a toddler, Kochai's family spoke Pashto and Farsi at home.

In kindergarten, he didn't know a word of English. "I associated language and learning with punishment, fear and disappointment," he recalls. But his second-grade teacher, Mrs. Lung, changed all that. Nearly everyday after school Lung sat with Kochai, warmly teaching him how to read and write.

"She showed me that I didn't have to be afraid of it, and it could actually be something that I could come to love," he told The Washington Post. By the end of that year, Kochai was fluent, and the next year, he won a reading comprehension award.

Today, Kochai has published two books and teaches creative writing at multiple universities. He always felt grateful for Lung, but couldn't recall her first name to be able to trace contact to her. But in 2019, Susannah Lung had an appointment with her neurologist, when the doctor happened to mention that she’d stumbled upon an interesting article. She shocked Lung by asking her: “Are you the Mrs. Lung that taught Jamil Jan Kochai?”

Lung could hardly believe it. “I remembered the name, and I remembered what he looked like,” she said of Kochai. “He had a cute little smile.”

Lung and her husband did a little sleuthing and, last month, decided to attended a book reading by Kochai. "When I saw Mrs. Lung there, my heart exploded," Kochai said. "It wasn't like seeing someone from my past, it was like seeing someone that I've known and cared for and loved all my life."



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