As a writer, I have had my share of unexpected encounters with readers. One of these, which I will always remember, happened on January 3, 2013, as I was traveling from the USA to Tanzania.
I had boarded a plane in Minneapolis, bound for Amsterdam. Having taken my seat, some ladies sitting near me asked me if I would be willing to trade seats with a friend of theirs, so that she could come and sit near them. I readily accepted their request and vacated my seat.
As soon as I was comfortably seated, I greeted the young lady sitting next to me. Responding, she looked at me and excitedly remarked, "You wrote a book." Saying that, she quickly reached for her purse which was under the seat in front of her and brought out a copy of Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences.
The young woman told me that she was traveling to Kenya as part of a group of volunteers with Medical Missions Worldwide. Through her, I got to meet other members of the group. She also said that a friend of hers from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls told her to read that book.
That made me recall that a few years earlier a group of students from that university had visited me at St. Olaf College for some cultural orientation prior to traveling to Uganda to work on a building project. We had a fruitful conversation and a book signing.
Needless to say, this encounter was quite a surprise to me. However, that was not the first time I had encountered such situations with readers, who easily recognize me because my picture appears on the back cover of my book. I had a similar experience with readers from Nebraska at the airport in Amsterdam, as I reported on this blog.
(Photos were taken by John A. Williams II, Executive Director of Medical Missions World Wide)