Posted on August 25, 2022 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Author Jamil Jan Kochai has journeyed a long way, both literally and figuratively.

Literally, because he was born in Pakistan but grew up in the US.

And figuratively, because he was born in a refugee camp and now counts, among his honors, a Pen/Hemingway Award finalist nod and a stint as a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

No doubt he can count many helpers and mentors along that route, but one sticks out particularly in his mind: his second-grade teacher, Susannah Lung.

Kochai told NPR's Scott Simon that he had learned to associate school with suffering, because he didn't understand the language and thus the rules.

Lung understood what he was going through and stayed after help him add English to the languages he spoke (Pashto and Farsi).

It took Kochai several years to find Lung, but eventually the pair reunited, thanks to an essay he wrote.

Kochai and Lung take turns telling the story in the NPR interview, available as text and audio.

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Categories: Author Interview

Tagged As: Author interview, NPR

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