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.
In the summer of 2000, Jim Foley was my favorite teacher. I received an A in his class. He taught me history, government, and social studies like I had never been taught before. He infused our lives, beliefs, politics, sociology, and economics in a two-month, rigorous summer course. The class was interesting and interactive, but my fondest memory of Mr. Foley was not in the classroom.