Bodies of Work

Illustration for TIME by Joseph Adolphe

The English patient: Cotterill arrived in Laos a sick man

Colin Cotterill owes a lot to hepatitis. In 1990, as an aid worker for UNESCO, he was dispatched to Laos to develop a curriculum for English classes. It was a bit of a Sisyphean assignment, since all the English textbooks in the country were written in German, a language virtually no one in Laos understood. On the flight from Europe, however, fate intervened. A doctor in the adjacent seat leaned over. "He said, 'You do realize you have hepatitis, don't you?'" Cotterill recalls. "I looked at myself in the mirror, and, by God, there were these big yellow tennis-ball...

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