As we dig deeper into personal interviews kids start to reveal more. Students that were reluctant to share are now opening up.

We interviewed a sweet but quiet boy in a level one class last week. He was asked the routine questions, but toward the end of the period, a student asked him a question that is on our list but has not been asked often enough. The question was: “How do you help people?” I like that question because it helps students to think outside of themselves.

The boy thought for a moment. He was obviously trying to think how he could put it into Spanish. He asked if he could speak in English. I allowed it because he earnestly “plays the game” and rarely uses English unnecessarily. He said, “I have helped several friends that were thinking of committing suicide.”

Our jaws hit the floor. With extra respect, I asked the class how we could describe him and what he does to help people in Spanish. They came up with: “¡Puede escuchar muy bien!” (He can listen real well!), “¡Puede hablar bien!” (He can talk well!), and my favorite, “Es un buen amigo.” (He is a good friend.)

This is a boy that no one notices any place else. He is not big, fast or strong. He is not high academically. He is not wealthy or particularly good-looking. He is not loud or in the popular crowd. But in Spanish class he is now a hero. In Spanish class he was appreciated, noticed and respected.

Would that we all had such friends.

That’s how personal interviews are supposed to go–beyond compelling input, to compelling connections.