Someone I Once Met: Student of the Year

Cristian Alvarez is well-educated, hard working, successful and kind. He is a Chilean man who I taught English to twice a week for the duration of my time in Chile.

Our lessons were one on one, just me and him in his ever so neat office in downtown Santiago. Although I always declined his offer of coffee, he never failed to offer me a cup when he was making one for himself. Two cups per lesson was the average and always in the mug which showed his support of the Chilean football team Colo-Colo.

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Although material given to me to me by my employer showed Cristian as being at the ‘upper-intermediate’ level, I would definitely describe him as an advanced speaker. His course was a business English one and he hated going by the book. For the first few lessons I stuck religiously to the syllabus- practicing reading, writing and listening skills. But it didn’t take long before our classes became more conversational in nature.

Cristian Alvarez was like my psychologist. Although the lessons were there for him to improve his Business English, his timid nature and good listening skills meant that I would often go off on a tangent for an hour while he sat and listened. Every now and again I’d feel guilty about neglecting the ‘real work’ but he’d insist we continue as we were- him listening while I filled him in on my life. He identified in front of him a girl in a foreign country with a lack of close friends in which to confide.  Mr. Alvarez was there to make sure I was ok.

When I fell Ill he had a sudden realisation that I had no-one to look after me and reassured me that he would be there if I ever needed anything. He had no problem changing a class time to suit me when I took on a second job. Cristian was never late for class unless it was completely out of his control. This fact, although seemingly insignificant, was a huge treasure in the land where time and punctuality mean nothing. And when class was over he always, always, walked me to the door.

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