One of the first questions I’m asked is how I find people to interview for this blog. The short answer is, everywhere.
The longer answer is more interesting.
I meet my contacts through friends, friends of friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and shop keepers. Through past contacts. At dinner parties, on vacation, and over drinks at my local pub. I keep an ear out for news about local exchange students. I nab people on Facebook who talk about having family and friends in foreign countries. I pester people who travel for business.
Mostly, I just talk to people. Ask them about their life while I’m walking the dog or running out for coffee. People who seem interesting and curious about the world.
There are a lot of them.
Sometimes, they find me. Which is what happened last week at my favorite local cafe, Limestone Coffee and Tea.
“Do you remember me?” asked a young man with a kind face. “My name is Amjol.”
Once he said his name, it came back to me.
I met Amjol eight years ago in the same cafe (old location). I was working on my novel, he was working on his PhD in philosophy. His family is Nepalese. Although Amjol was born in America, he spent much of his life in Nepal, where he met and married his wife.
It was a couple days before the 4th of July. Amjol and his wife were staying in a local hotel with no plans for the holiday. I invited them to my house for a barbecue with neighbors and friends. They came and were charming, interesting, and graciously answered endless questions about their culture.
At the end of the summer, Amjol and his wife returned to Nepal. We lost touch.
Now he is back in the Chicago area, beginning his first job as philosophy professor at the School of the Art Institute. He has a two-year old daughter now.
We made plans to get together for dinner. He says he knows a great Nepalese restaurant not far from my house. I can’t wait. As you might have guessed, Amjol is going to help me get a contact in Nepal.
This experience reminds me that when my grown kids were little, they cringed whenever I struck up conversations with strangers. People I thought had an interesting story to tell.
Sorry, kids, I’m not stopping anytime soon.
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