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Nearly everyone has fond memories of what they learned in kindergarten, but for Rashed Al-Foudary, the year was particularly life-changing.
That year – 1982 – was when Al-Foudary’s teachers discovered he was hearing impaired. Thirty years later, he’s completely deaf and uses a cochlear implant.
He has never forgotten his teacher at Millbrook Elementary in Raleigh, Faye Bundy. Finding an old report card in which Bundy gushed about how he’d “grown up a lot this year” made him want to say thank you.
“Faye Bundy is the spark that has pushed me to reach where I am today,” Al-Foudary wrote on his blog. “She was the first to support me and never gave up on me. She has encouraged and taught me to excel despite the massive barriers I faced during my early childhood with my hearing and speech.
“She basically was the springboard from which I started my life as a ‘regular’ kid.”
The only problem? Al-Foudary, 36, now lives in Kuwait. He spent only a few years of his childhood in Raleigh and hasn’t been back. So to track down the long-lost educator, he turned to social media. A Twitter exchange led to Wake County school board vice chairwoman Christine Kushner, who posted a link to Al-Foudary’s blog on her Facebook page.
In a matter of hours, someone notified Bundy’s family members and posted her contact information on the blog. She’s still in Raleigh, having continued at Millbrook until her retirement in 2000.
“I was too excited to think of anything else; I was literally squirming in my chair,” Al-Foudary said.
Finally armed with an email address, Al-Foudary fired off a message to Bundy.
“I admit I was so excited that I barely made any sense in the email,” he said, adding that he hopes to visit the United States in the spring to thank his teacher in person.
Karen Barlow, Bundy’s daughter, said her mom was thrilled to get the email. She’s 73 now and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and initially she had trouble remembering Al-Foudary. Then her husband showed her an old snapshot from Al-Foudary’s blog, showing his birthday celebration in her classroom.
The memories came flooding back.
“For her to be able to remember him, it’s just a miracle,” Barlow said. “It was really neat. She remembers the mom, she remembers him and how sweet he was.”
It’s been 12 years since Bundy was in the classroom, and Barlow said it’s rare for her to hear from former students.
Bundy’s husband, Jim, commented on Facebook that “the greatest compliment that you can give a teacher is that they have made a positive influence on your life ... and certainly this was the case with my wife and Rashed.”