For a year now, I’ve met with an 8-year-old boy every week for English lessons. He was shy during the first 10 minutes we met. Now we’re best friends.

The only thing is, he and his mom, Xiaoyan, moved back to China in the beginning of the summer. So we only see each other through the fuzzy screen on Skype.

I tell him the meaning of words like “soggy” and phrases like “a nagging feeling.”

We think of ways to ship his mom’s dumplings to me.

Sometimes Xiaoyan enjoys the conversation and pops on the screen to talk to me herself. She tells me about the Chinese class called Morality and what they learn in the class. Yongzhen tells me about his favorite food.

We talk a lot about food.

We read stories from a textbook called “Story Town” and study vocabulary words. We talk about Harry Potter. He shows me his legos. Spencer sometimes gets on the computer to show him his legos.

When Yongzhen turned 9, he invited Spencer and me to his birthday party. Xiaoyan never let us leave without a jar of spices or a bag of dumplings.

We changed the schedule to two times a week now. Every Friday and Saturday I get to see my friends.

We miss them.