My Teacher James Foley And The Book That Changed My Life

By Peter Alvarez, Teach For America

When the news broke earlier this year that an American journalist named James Foley had been killed, I paused. I felt my stomach turn from the heinousness of the act, not yet realizing that I knew James. I watched the news montages on this great man and journalist. He looked familiar, but he was in the media, so obviously I had seen his face, I thought. Then I saw John and Diane Foley speak about Jim's death, and the person they described seemed more familiar than ever. That day, I got an email from Terri Slater, the former assistant director of the University of Massachusetts Upward Bound program, in which I had been a student many years ago, with the subject line: "Jim Foley."  

In that instant, it clicked, all the connections were made. I knew before I opened the email. I wrote Terri back, expressed my disbelief, and explained what Jim had given me so many years ago…