Today I took the time to visit one of my students who has not been able to take her lessons due to her husband’s tragic accident in Guatemala in February. It seems that he was on the way to the airport in a limo when a truck driving the wrong way in their lane plowed into the limo. Many people were in the limo and one person died in the crash. My student’s husband was unconscious for two months and on a respirator for a long time. After surgery on his left arm in Guatemala to insert pins in his shoulder, he was moved to a hospital in Miami where he received additional care for for about a month. He was flown back to Japan and spent another 3 weeks in a hospital in Tokyo and eventually was able this month to return to Kobe with his wife. He suffered major injuries to his left arm and left brain. He was initially paralyzed on his right side but, he can now use his right side. He still has some paralysis in his right eye but it is hoped that he will be able to recover use of that eye someday soon. What a terrible experience! But through it all with help of his wife, family and friends he is recovering well and is very thankful.
It was a moving moment to meet him and see the tears in his eyes as he explained that he was very lucky and could not have made it without the support of so many people in three countries. The really sad part is that the Spanish that he learned during those two months of homestay in Guatemala seems to be gone. He cannot remember any of what he learned. But he says that he is dedicated to start over and learn Spanish with renewed vigor!
Even this kind of experience is a blessing. As Smith’s teacher-owners we are often able to become very close with our students and they become like our extended family. These kinds of experiences remind us that we never know what’s going to happen in the next moment. We have to enjoy each moment and we must help others when they need help. Being a Smith’s teacher-owner has made me more aware of the importance of life and helping others when they are in need. We never know when we will also need help.
Owning a Smith’s School has given me a very special connection to the lives of dozens of students. They share with me their fun times and sad times and are always happy when I can help to them to express their feelings in English. Such experiences remind us that life is precious and that we are not alone. With Smith’s School of English (Japanese Home Page) and the great support of the head office, we are also not alone. We are a great team and together we can achieve much much more.
I assure you that for me life in Japan is a wonderful experience and owning a Smith’s school just makes it that much better!
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)